As told to Emi Boscamp:
A few months ago, I told a classroom full of people that I hear voices. The voices come from a black stick figure right behind my right ear. Normally, he just sits there. He can even be calming sometimes. But other times, he turns into a monster and takes over my brain.
"Hey," I'll think, "your shoe is untied. Why don't you go tie it?"
"No, why don't you go kill yourself?" comes the response.
The professor of my leadership class had asked us all to tell a story, so I told them my story. My entire story. My professor cried. People looked at me like I was crazy. And, technically, I am — but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's made me a better person.
I want to tell you my story too.
I am diagnosed as having bipolar disorder type II. I experience earth-shattering highs and exhausting, suicidal lows.
I'm a 22-year-old college student from Connecticut. My father passed away in 2014 after a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. I was super close to him. I didn't know it at the time, but about four years ago, right after I heard he was going to die, I had a full-blown, long-term manic episode. I never felt tired, even after getting only a couple of hours of sleep every night, and I always felt like I was on an important mission. I felt superhuman, invincible. Everything shone brighter. But it was an unhealthy, unsustainable way of living.
A few months later, I crashed into very severe depression. I had suicidal thoughts. Well, the friend in my head told me suicidal things.
"You shouldn't go to class."
"You should kill yourself."
Sometimes, he didn't even form words. He would just scream. That's when I knew it was really bad.
But it got even worse than that. Aside from hearing things, I would see things that weren't there, too. A white, pulsating orb took residence in my head at times. And once, on a trip to Boston, I saw people jumping off buildings and tapping on my car window.
Mostly, though, in my times of deep depression, he would just whisper discouraging things to me.