Minor Mental Mania

Bipolar disorder in underage teens is more of an issue than realized.


Hannah Bernard

Junior Elisa Carter stands in front of a mirror, in the bathroom, looking at her reflection. She finds chaos in her reflection due to her mental health.

Up down up down up down.

That is what my head does almost everyday. I have many highs and lows with my depression increasing some days and mood swings taking over my life on others. I display symptoms of bipolar disorder but have not been diagnosed because of my age. 

I am 16 and in order for me to become officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder I must turn 18 years old or have a more severe case, which I am nowhere near. My diagnosis consists of major depressive disorder and anxiety.

 I have no official diagnosis for my mood swings, but I take medication that is used as a mood stabilizer which can also be used in combination with my other medication to treat my depression. I use it for both; however, the dosage that I am on does almost nothing to help treat my mood swings. Due to my case not qualifying for a diagnosis, I cannot receive the medication or dosage I need to help with the symptoms I have. 

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression and consists of emotional highs and lows. The emotional highs consist of mania or hypomania and the lows include very strong depressive episodes and can sometimes include suicidal thoughts and/or actions. 

Bipolar disorder is a disorder that is serious and should not be joked about because of how much people struggle with it. It is also a disorder that people shouldn’t feel afraid to talk about, yet people are because when you struggle with mental health and you deal with serious issues throughout your life people see you differently. That shouldn’t be the case. 

The case should be that having bipolar disorder, or any other mental health disorder, does not come with the stigma that you are broken. It may mean that you struggle with some issues mentally and those issues may cause you to require treatment, but they do not need to be fixed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with who they are, it is just the fact that their brain is wired a little differently than others. 

I have had my own personal experiences with the symptoms of bipolar disorder. I have had some experience with hypomania, but I have had many experiences with depression. I have struggled with depression for over 3 years and it has been a long constant battle with myself in my head. 

Fighting this fight has been one of the hardest experiences of my life. I have had some very good days where I look forward to my future of building a family and going to college and having the career of my dreams. Then there are the other days — the days where I never have any motivation to do anything because all my energy is taken up by the civil war going on inside me. I have thoughts that are very personal and very triggering. I scare myself with the thoughts my brain creates. I have had thoughts in the past that scare me to the point where I burst out in tears, I have anxiety attacks, and I panic. 

The thoughts that I have aren’t unique to me, it’s a reality for many other people who struggle with bipolar disorder and other mental health issues as well. It simply needs to be talked about. 

This topic needs to be put out there more, especially the topic of being bipolar under 18. There are many teens out there that may be struggling with less severe cases of bipolar disorder, but may not be receiving the treatment they need because they are under 18 and/or their case is not severe enough to be diagnosed. I know that from personal experience that not getting the help that you need can have a large impact on your life moving forward. 

I know this is said a lot but if you or someone that you know is struggling with symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, please tell someone, please try and seek help because you are not hopeless, you are not worthless, and you are not alone. It does get better, and the first step to that is speaking up and saying something. I know that it is not that easy to do, I know that it can be hard to open up about how you feel; I used to be that way, but the moment I spoke up and the moment I got help it got easier and it will for you too.