I wanted to share all of this because this is the year where I take everything to the next level. My followers are so important not just to me, but to the contributor writers that call this place home. I want to show the world what a community such as ours is capable of doing amazing things.
I am a writer who needs multiple projects that are ideas, in first drafts, editing, and ready to publish. I am also seeking an agent for those out there looking for a writer. For right now, I understand the self-publishing process, so that is good in my book. I will continue to go down this route. I have a fantastic cover artist (if you are looking, please email me!) and people I trust besides myself to edit my work. I prefer to keep busy.
Here is an idea of where I am at right now just in works in progress.
The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir – (Non-Fiction) Republishing in March 2020
Angel on the Ward – (Fiction Novella) In formatting and working on the cover art. Getting ready to publish in April 2020.
The Rise of the Nephilim – (Fantasy Fiction Novel) In editing looking for an agent
Hyeon and the Precious Notebook(Short Story) Looking for literary magazine publication.
The Dark Passenger (Short Story) Currently in the final editing phases.
Vacation From Heaven (Non-fiction) this is my major ghostwriting project of 2020.
What can I say, I like to keep busy, even as a graduate student.
My Next Big Ideas
A Book Sharing the stories of the Mental Health Community
That brings me to other projects that I want to launch in 2020. The first being A collective book on the stories of the mental illness community. I have been throwing around this idea for a while, and I think it is something that will be long-term. I hope to travel and meet people to write their stories. The money will go to helping others with medication, seeking mental health services, and perhaps other projects. Not a dime will go to me. A lot of this project will hinge if I can convince my followers to become Patreons. I will use my books as incentives for those who want to be a part of my writing process.
A Mental Health Podcast
I have two people that will become contributors once I get all my ducks in a row for this project. Both have experience in mental health. One of these two mental health advocates has experienced differently from mine. One is a bit younger with varying mental illnesses, including PTSD, that she deals with daily. The other, he is the man whom I am ghostwriting his book, is much older but also has some fantastic experiences that significantly differ from my own, including getting off benzodiazepines, which is a tremendous story. It will have guests, and I have big plans for this project in 2020.
Growing The Bipolar Writer Brand
Building my brand is going to be a fun project, and again, it comes down to if I can launch my Patreon account with enthusiasm. I am thinking t-shirts, coffee mugs, and maybe even one-day hoodies that show inspirational things alongside my brand The Bipolar Writer.
I wanted to share all of this because this is the year where I take everything to the next level. My followers are so important not just to me, but to the contributor writers that call this place home. I want to show the world what a community such as ours is capable of doing amazing things. That the support and understanding that I have experienced is the best. We need to change the stigma of mental health together!
At times our journey to discover what is wrong with us can be a hard one, and it can go unnoticed for a time. Then we experience something that changes everything in our lives. That’s what it is was like for Victoria, a young woman from the Midwest— Indiana. Victoria’s journey begins with her official diagnosis— Vaginismus.
You can find more about the signs and symptoms of vaginismus in Victoria’s blog Girl With the Paw Print Tattoo.
A Struggle With Vaginismus, Anxiety, & Depression
The ride to discovery can me be a hard one, and it is never easy. It usually is a difficult one— and it was no different for Victoria’s journey. Victoria‘s official diagnosis is vaginismus. It occurred the first time her freshman year of College.
“After having sex for the first time. I discovered excruciating pain that went along with it,” she explains. “I did a Google search, and “vaginismus” came up.”
It was difficult for Victoria to understand, and for the months that followed, she hid it from the world. It wasn’t until a session with her therapist that she brought up the pain. It was Victoria‘s therapist that convinced her to seek real medical help.
”My first gynecologist knew I struggled with pain during examinations. Yet, they never addressed it. Now, when I say ‘struggled’ I mean I was held down on the table by two nurses as I cried. I shook uncontrollably whenever she examined me.”
It was a horrible experience for Victoria. At times her gynecologist couldn’t examine her because her PC muscles blocked her. It was still never addressed, and it continued to be a problem in her life. It finally took Victoria approaching her doctor and telling her that she had the condition.
Her response was, “Oh that makes sense! I always thought you never liked exams.”
When you receive a diagnosis such as vaginismus, it can be a daunting and an exhausting process. Over the years, Victoria has gone through so many doctors, gynecologists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and physical therapists.
“I was given a set of dilators and told yo use them daily. I was never given instructions on how to use them. This is typical.”
As with any diagnosis, it usually morphs into other issues in your life. Factors like problems in Victoria’s personal life helped fuel a new struggle with depression. In her freshman year in college, depression became a part of her diagnosis. Victoria was randomly selected to take a test in the Psychology Department in her college. It was the results of this test that the Professor, a therapist and the Head of Psychology Department, called Victoria into his office.
“It was the most nerve-wracking experience of my life,“ she explains. “I knew I was a mess, but I had to pretend I was fine. I walked into the room full of sunshine, and played it cool.”
It worked as Victoria confused the room. The results of her test made it seem that it would be impossible to get out of bed most days. They were shocked that the individual that took that test was before them. Victoria, like so many of us who first experience depression, laughed her depression off.
It was a futile thing to do, and on a break from school when Victoria went home, she went to a family doctor. Victoria got her official diagnosis of Depression. Victoria resisted her doctor’s recommendation to take medication and chose a route without anti-depressants.
“It wasn’t until recently that I began to see a psychiatrist. I now have been prescribed a variety of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. It’s crazy to think that it’s officially been one full year on meds.”
Anxiety is another side effect of her diagnosis. Victoria contends that she has always lived with generalized anxiety disorder. She learned to adapt throughout her life. It was her therapist in her freshman that gave her the official diagnosis of anxiety.
“To be honest, I don‘t remember what it was like before these diagnoses,” Victoria recalls. “I remember one memory of being completely blissful, and that when I was very young. I was outside in the backyard; the grass was extremely green, and the sun was shining brighter than it ever had. I would twirl around, and swing on the swing set smiling as I breathed in the crisp air. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the grass and the air and the sunshine on my face. I was fearless. I was free. I was innocent. I was happy.”
What is the Hardest Part for Victoria?
In Victoria’s life living with vaginismus is the hardest thing she has to deal with each day. The depression is a side effect of vaginismus, and she has found ways to make the anxiety not a big part of her life.
“With vaginismus, and therefore depression, It is feeling worthless and abnormal,” she explains. I feel like everything is my fault, and I’m a huge failure when it comes to relationships.”
Victoria worries that she has set her fiancé back when it comes to relationships. It is often the feeling for Victoria that vaginismus holds her back from enjoying her life. For Victoria, it feels as if life is passing her by.
“It’s not living. This, of course, is my biggest fear.”
Triggers are what Victoria struggles the most each day. One of the hardest triggers for her is to be alone in her apartment. Trying to relax alone can be a hard thing for Victoria. The negative thoughts and emotional turmoil can be consuming. Victoria at times has good days, and she is able to move on with her day. It’s the nights that can be the most difficult.
“Every night is difficult for me because I so desperately want to be intimate with my fiancé but can’t,” she explains. “This only intensifies my depression.”
It doesn’t help Victoria’s cause that depression and anxiety often set her back. She can remember a time before her anxiety medication where she was afraid to hang out with people. The fear of driving and being in large crowds frightened Victoria. It was fearful to even drive for her.
Luckily for Victoria, those days of fearing her anxiety have passed. Depression still haunts her every day. Those days where she wanted to stay in bed all day, she gets up and tries to go about her day.
”I find that tears sometimes swell in my eyes for no reason. I must wipe them away. I realize that I suck at communication with others because I’m not even thinking about anything other than my own thoughts. It makes me feel terrible and guilty. I worry that I am a terrible friend and partner.”
Victoria Wants to Share This With the Mental Illness Community
The one thing Victoria wants to share with the readers of this article is this. Not to judge individuals so quickly.
“You have no idea what they are going through in their life,” Victoria explains. “You have no idea what their daily struggles might be. Also, for those of you dealing with the same struggles, just know that you are never alone. Some days are harder than others, but you will get through this.”
Learning From the Blogging Experience
Within the confines of her blog, it has helped Victoria sort through her emotions. In a very constructive way. What helps is being able to sit down and talk about her mental illness and conditions. He blog is like writing a journal that you share with others. The people that follow her blog can empathize and relate to what Victoria is going through.
“I also love how blogging shares awareness. It makes me feel good inside to talk about vaginismus and shed light on this condition to the community. Hopefully, it will one day go further than just blogging about it.”
Ending on a Positive Note
There are things in our lives that make life worth living. For Victoria, it is her fiancé and the possibilities of beautiful adventures. Like traveling the world.
It has been a unique experience to share Victoria’s continuing journey with vaginismus, depression, and anxiety. I came across Victoria’s blog, and it was amazing to see how someone who has been through so much can be so open. She can still shed light on her illness and help others with her blog. It was my pleasure to write this feature article about Victoria.
I hope every person reading this article knows that each of us struggles in our own way. Victoria and The Bipolar Writer are of one mind when she says not to judge people for their struggles. When this happens, some battles stay hidden, and that is all bad. I wish nothing but positivity as Victoria continues her journey.
A Look at Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety
Imagine for a moment. Every second of your existence is a struggle. The struggle is with fear, rituals, anxiety, and depression. It has always been a part of your life. A part of your existence. You have no idea what or why things happen to you. This was the life that Julia Cirignano— from Boston, Massachusett has lived. It was the before her diagnosis life started Julia struggled, something that many in the mental illness community can relate.
“My diagosis with anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder came in high school. I have dealt with the symptoms my whole life.”
Like many in the community she struggled in high school, and it was in this time that Julia received a diagnosis in high school. It has always been hard for Julia to remember a time of peace. A life without an illness. In a life of constant ups and downs it was in high school while seeing a therapist that Julia first found a diagnosis.
The high school years of Julia Cirignano were the darkest of times in her life. It was also her lowest point. The daily struggle for Julia is to find balance in her self-care and in all aspects of her life.
“While I do use medication, one of the biggest things that helped me was focusing on the things I love,” Julia expains. “From a young age, I had a passion for horses, literature, music, animals in general, and more.”
Julia finds solace in her activities and it helps to keep balance in her mental health. Julia keeps her body fit, with boxing, working out, and staying productive. Along with eating well, Julia believes that keeping fit helps keep her mentally fit.
A single day with OCD and anxiety can be difficult for Julia. The key is to take each day as it is, and always stay busy.
“In my day-to-day, I try and keep myself busy because that keeps me happy,” she explains. “Accomplishing chores, no matter how big or small, gives me satisfaction. Nights are hard, like they are for almost everyone with mental illness. I drink tea and smoke weed to help with that.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Julia in the past. It was not uncommon for her dwell on the negative aspects of her mental illness. At the same time her illness has made her an empathetic person.
“Some people may call me sensitive. I like to think of myself as a person who sees and feels all that’s happenings around them,” Julia explains. “I am affected by the energy around me, which is hard in the negative world we live in. I try to put myself in the best situations possible.”
Julia has learned many positive things in her journey. She wanted to share some of that wisdom with the mental illness community. What Julia has learned is to channel the strengths that her mental disability has given her.
“Yes. There are ways in which it has slowed you down,” Julia explains. “But, everyone (no matter if you struggle with mental illness or not) has to figure out their strengths as a human. I believe that with weakness comes great strength. I believe in opposites. I believe that when you hit rock bottom, you’re there to push off and bounce back to even better, richer highs.”
Julia has written a blog not so much for mental health but for writing. Julia recently self-published a book of poetry called White Wine and Medical Marijuana. It was an extremely personal book for her to write. Writing in Julia’s life is theraputic, and it comes as second nature in her life.
“For me. It was more uncomfortable and anxiety provoking to publish my book for my loved ones to see. The process of writing comes easy. It’s easy for me to publish and promote my work to people I’ve never met,” she explains. My fellow writers, or people who can relate to my mental illness. It’s hard to hand my book to people who know me well – especially if they don’t deal with mental illness themselves.”
For Julia, most people didn’t know the internal struggle with her mental illness. It was hard to show the ones Julia loves most in this world her book. In the end it was a positive thing. It brought Julia closer to her family.
The things that make life worth living for Julia are the people and pets in her life. “My family. My horse. My friends. Chocolate. Steak. Mashed potatoes. Ice cream. Books. My Bed.” In this mental illness life we have to find some peace. Julia has come a long way but she is right with her mental health.
I always love to write these interview feature article about members of the community of bloggers that discuss mental illness. Julia has taught us in her journey and her story that with the right attitude you can find acceptance in your diagnosis. It was an honor to write another interview feature.
There are times when writing interview features for The Bipolar Writer blog that it gets personal to me because I can directly relate to the subject of the article. When that happens, I feel as if I must tell the story right. Today I share the story of Joy Daehn, originally from Sagamihara, Japan— and currently lives in Florida. You can find her blog at https://happy-thinks.com
Joy Daehn: A Story of Overcomer
In every journey with a mental illness, we all start at the point where an event or something significant influences how your mental illness affects the rest of your life. For Joy Daehn, her mental illness started very young due to abuse.
“It’s hard to say if I was born with a mental illness or if it formed over time,” Joy explains about her mental illness origins. “I would say that it is my biggest curse, but also my biggest blessing.”
Since her childhood, Joy has always wanted to help others, find her purpose, and at the same time feel welcomed. Joy believes that her mental illness has allowed her to connect with so many wonderful people on her blog, but to reliving the trauma she faced a child is something she would never want to relive.
“There are good people in this world that sometimes ‘just don’t get it.’ They mean well, but they will never understand.”
On a daily basis Joy has to contend with her diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with dissociative symptoms, a diagnosis she finally got in February of 2018. Due to the fear about the stigma of mental illness Joy decided to put off evaluation— this is a common occurrence in this mental illness life.
“I honestly do not remember a time I have not struggled with some form of mental health,” she remembers, “I remember having suicidal thoughts as a child and being depressed as early as age nine.”
What Joy sees in her life is being able to understand what it is like to have suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks ruling her life. This understanding has allowed her to step into a place with other people that otherwise may not have permission to go. “And I say ‘with’ because I am still figuring this thing out.”
The hardest part of the daily routine of living with PTSD involves people who don’t know or don’t understand what it means to have a panic attack that is PTSD related.
“It has often made me afraid to go into social settings even though I enjoy being around people for the most part,” Joy explains about this type of anxiety.
To get through a single day Joy is very much a planner. Each day she has an agenda that Joy writes the day before, it helps her get through her daily grind. It has become a routine in Joy’s life, and it coincides with her mood journal that she keeps daily.
“This helps me clear my mind of any negativity. Prayer and meditation at the end of the day it also helps me reset my thinking,” Joy says, “I guess you could say it’s much mental preparation the day before. I know my mental illness isn’t going anywhere soon, so preparing to coexist with it seems to be the best option for me.”
Writing a mental health blog can be therapeutic and enlightening. I always ask my interviewees what they would like to share with the mental community— and this is what Joy asked me to share her little piece of wisdom.
“I believe my blog has always been a place where people of any background can come over. I don’t believe there is a single person on the planet that is exempt from mental health issues.
“But, if you read my posts you will probably notice that I speak from experience 99% of the time. So, from experience, I would share something with the faith community.”
“If you read my story, you know the environment I grew up in did not believe in caring for mental health. You might relate to this if you grew up in a similar background. Although you may have left these teachings, there is a part of you that still nags at you and calls you a bad person for being the slightest concerned about your mental state.”
“To this, I have to say; God did not only make you be a spiritual being. He created you with the intention to be a body, mind, and soul. Yes, caring for your spirituality is important for your soul, but neglecting the other two are completely contradictory to God’s design.”
“You are not sinning for caring for your mental health. And trust me, the more you realize it’s okay to practice self-care, the more you will be able to care for others.”
Writing a mental health blog for Joy has done absolute wonders in her life. “Before the blog posts, I thought NO ONE understood the pain I was feeling. However, I started receiving messages upon messages from people just like me. These people and I have become a community, and it has meant the world to me,” Joy explains about her mental health blog.
For Joy, life itself makes life worth living every day. Living according to PTSD’s agenda can be quite miserable according to Joy, but along with the planners she uses she has a vision board full of pictures. It helps her to stay excited about the good things in life, to have something to look forward to in this life.
To end the interview, Joy had this to say:
“Have a support group. I sincerely don’t know where I would be without the support of my husband, sister, best friend, and my boss. Some people will truly care about you if you let them. You are worth being cared for!”
If you would like to know more about Joy’s journey with PTSD and her past you can follow the links below to pages from her blog.
I always like to end these interviews with my thoughts on the story I have shared with you in this feature on Joy Daehn. I am genuinely in awe that Joy dares to share her abuse story, it is something that I still struggle in my own journey—I barely talk about it. At some point, I hope to find the courage to do so.
What hold’s the fabric of our existence when we struggle in a single day? It’s a question each of us in the mental illness community must find or are actively seeking. It can be anything that helps you get through the hardest moments in your life. People have turned inward to meditation as a way to understand the “why” in their existence. Other’s find their place in writing their story down, and finding why they struggle. Some of us turn to faith.
Katie R. Dale, a young woman from Warrensburg, Mo, has found her place within her diagnosis of Bipolar One. The grace of God. It helps Katie to have faith when dealing with the daily struggle of her mental illness.
“He’s the one holding my life together,” Katie explains about the present and her faith in God. “That entails a relationship with Him. That means reading His word daily, praying, having family and friends support me. It also means having a purpose, a job, and the miracle of medication.”
Katie’s official diagnosis is Bipolar One disorder. The journey Katie has to take to get the right diagnosis started at the age sixteen. It was a time of major life change for Katie as she was switching from public to private school. Katie fell into a deep depression and at this age that she began her first inpatient stay. It was at the juvenile psychiatric ward, and it was where she received the diagnosis of Bipolar One.
“The doctor didn’t diagnose me at that age, but it got to a point where it stuck.”
When Katie met with her psychiatrist, the doctor prescribed an antidepressant. Katie made a request to switch her medicine to a different antidepressant. The switch was cold turkey, and in turn, it made her go further into psychosis.
Katie remembers her life before her early experiences with Bipolar disorder.
“I lived a happy, and healthy childhood. It was a relatively normal life. I was always creative. I was into writing, drawing, computer graphics, and challenging the status quo of thinking,” Katie remembers.
Once the realization came over Katie that she was mentally ill, it was too late for her. When her next hospitalization came, it was because she needed help yesterday.
“But, the hospital admitted me, fortunately. I need to get a steady dose of medication. It was imperative to have medical professionals track my behaviors around the clock.”
Katie considers herself blessed. When dealing with the daily struggles of life. Katie doesn’t struggle with symptoms or the side effects of medication. In working through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Katie has found her way to deal. A teachable spirit and a positive attitude became how Katie hashes out her issues in life.
“Thus, I approach my daily challenges in stride.”
Even with her can-do attitude, Katie’s mental illness has affected her life in the past.
“Mental illness was once possessive and oppressive thing that kicked my butt,” Katie explains. Once I heeded the wisdom of my doctors and started a daily regiment of medication it started to change me. I now work my issues through with CBT.”
Now for Katie her mental illness doesn’t affect her daily life, “It hasn’t affected me. Except now accept it. I will gladly share my struggles and successes with others. Nothing is impossible with God. With God, impossible is nothing. Mental illness happens. Mankind is fallen and we’re not perfect. But God is faithful. And allowed this sickness to affect me insomuch as His grace has prevailed through all.”
Katie wants to share within the confines of this feature article her wisdom of her journey. First Katie wants to express that you should let shame come from the fear of having a mental illness. To put out the fire of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses we must project courage.
“It is a blessing if we learn from it, and share that with those around us without fear or shame.”
When writing these feature articles I prefer to also get to know the blogger side of my interviewee. Not only their story. That means perusing their website. I get to see what they bring to the table as a writer for the mental illness community. That is the point of why bloggers in the community write. One of the most powerful forms of sharing experiences is through writing.
It was amazing what I found on Katie’s blog. Bipolar Brave. One of the first articles on her blog site that caught my eye was Why I Say ‘I Have Bipolar’ and ‘I Am Bipolar.’ This blog post she has this to say, and its one that we all can relate. I know it does for The Bipolar Writer.
“When I say I’m bipolar, I am addressing the illness because it lives in me! It does not own me, but it begets the symptoms and characteristics of bipolar disorder, therefore I am characteristic of that disorder. I am bipolar.” – excerpt from Bipolar Brave.
It is therapeutic to write about your experiences in a blog. It is the same for Katie. It has opened up doors for Katie. It is through her shared experiences on her blog Bipolar Brave that Katie is able to encourage others. This is a nice bonus for Katie to be able to share her story on her blog. I would recommend Katie’s blog to anyone living with Bipolar disorder.
“By his stripes, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
The little things in life are what keeps us going when dealing with a mental illness like Bipolar. Katie turns to her faith and all things that lead her down the right path to God and her diagnosis.
“Christ’s sacrifice on the cross means many things to me,” Katie explains about her faith and mental illness. Among those things is largely the reason I can live and have a whole mind. Since claiming victory in the life I have with Christ. Believing he has given me eternal life in Him, I am more confident that He gave me my sanity back. He makes it all worth living. Even the darkest day has a glimmer of light because of Him.”
Katie is true to her faith and believes in His love. She can’t resist Him. It is her faith that keeps her moral compass centered. In her faith, Katie believes that even if she were to take her life, she wouldn’t be going to hell.
“It’s not the unforgivable sin. He and the blessings He’s given me in the form of my family, friends, and health. Make life worth living.”
In Katie’s life writing has always been a great and important thing. Katie is currently looking for a publisher for her memoir. She plans to try the traditional way of publishing if possible. If not she looks to self-publish sometime this year. Katie plans the memoir to reflect the name of her blog, Bipolar Brave.
I write these feature articles about the different members of the mental illness community because it feels right. It is a way for me to further end the stigma surrounding mental illness. I am amazed that the human beings I write about are real people. People I can relate to every day.
Katie is an amazing human being, writer, and blogger. The way that she exudes confidence in all she does with her faith is astounding. It took me years to say “I am Bipolar, and that isn’t a bad thing.” Katie found her place and is in a place of solace with her faith. It was a pleasure to share another story here on The Bipolar Writer.
Here is another interview feature, this time Leigh’s. Please read this one and all the others as I repost all of the interview series. I hope to write a book about the many experiences one day if I can get my Patreon account off the ground. Please enjoy!
Being entirely out of focus on the world around you. It is impossible to get out bed even for a moment. The struggle to be yourself is real, and the little things in your life seem to be unlikely to get done. What do you do? What can you do when depression gets the best part of your day?
Leigh turns to her faith, “If I take a second to breathe and focus on God, I find that I’m able to concentrate better.”
This is the story of a brave soul dealing with the unimaginable depths of her diagnosis. Each of our mental illness stories is unique to each human being in the mental health community. Here is one story—a good one of Leigh S from Norfolk, VA.
If we could walk a day in Leigh’s shoes, we would find someone stuck between two worlds. Leigh fights with her Christian faith and being Bipolar. It can be hard to reconcile being Bipolar with what the Christian faith teaches us. The dark places that depression can take your thoughts can be hard to deal with and still keep the faith. It is never easy, but Leigh continues to walk the path that helps her with the daily struggles of being Bipolar.
Leigh explains how it is for her struggle with being a Christian and Bipolar. “Being Bipolar and a Christian can be a struggle on a lot of days. Because while I know God is with me, sometimes I struggle with actually believing it.”
When asked about how her mental illness affects her own life daily her answer was a familiar one. “I have days where I don’t know how to cope, so I retreat to my room and bury myself in a book to escape reality for a little while.”
Leigh’s story begins in the year 2000. In her senior year of high school, Leigh received a diagnosis of severe depression. Leigh started to hate life as she sunk deeper into her depression. It was tough going most days with her moods all over the map. It seemed as if the diagnosis did little to help Leigh.
“My grades suffered. The only thing I can think of that could have lead to the depression was that I had MAJOR panic attacks. It would start in the middle of the night. I was laying there when my heart started racing. My hands seized up, and my mom couldn’t pry them open.”
It only got worse over the years. When Leigh mood would swing from depression to mania, her would spiral. It wasn’t long before Leigh was charging up her credit cards racking up mountains of debt.
“I was happy, sad, frustrated, angry, excited, and depressed all rolled into one package.”
It’s interesting that a sufferer will find the first diagnosis of severe depression. It is often the wrong diagnosis. It wasn’t until eight years later that Leigh got the right diagnosis that fit her symptoms. Bipolar Two disorder. But for Leigh, she believes that her diagnosis was wrong.
“Once I learned about the Bipolar disorder, everything fell into place. All my up and down moods, rollercoaster of emotions. I had it all along.”
What causes this to happen? Leigh believes that it could be that her doctors didn’t know what they were looking for. But she believes that she has been Bipolar since her teenage years. At one point, we have all had a time where our diagnosis and the reality of what is going on in our lives doesn’t seem to match. It was the same story for Leigh.
Every single day Leigh does her best to make it to the next in the way that works best for her. She does it with a lot of prayers and daily meditation. There is, of course, the thing we all have in common, the medication that does its best to balance our lives.
Leigh believes in her faith. One thing Leigh wants people to understand from this feature is simple. That it is possible for someone to be Christian and have a mental illness.
“It is possible to experience being Christian and suffer from a mental illness. It’s a struggle, but it is possible.”
This is a unique and vital way of looking at mental illness. It is one we haven’t explored here on “The Bipolar Writer.” Leigh says it’s a struggle, but it’s a significant struggle for her. It goes the same for the many other Christians dealing with a mental illness. It was great for Leigh to bring her trust in her faith here, where she would be vulnerable.
While perusing Leigh’s blog, I was impressed with how committed Leigh is to her faith. Leigh wants only to help those who are struggling with their mental illness and their faith in God. It is inspiring to see Leigh’s article about “Plan of Salvation.” In this blog post, she offers to help for those who want to talk about becoming a Christian. Leigh uses scripture to back up her faith throughout the blog articles that she writes.
A close relationship with Jesus Christ is one way that in Leigh’s life makes it worth living. She believes in a healthy church family that cares and nurtures her spiritual journey. It is essential for those of us with a mental illness to find these little comforts in life.
Meeting others only reinforces Leigh’s faith in God while dealing with an illness. “I’ve been able to meet others who share my mental illness. It has helped me realize that there are others who know what I am going through.”
Many of us in the mental illness community suffer beyond our daily struggles. It is no different for Leigh. In her life, she has to deal with the struggles that are not mental. The illness is a chronic disorder. Fibromyalgia is the widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas. It is downright frustrating for Leigh to deal with both daily, but she always finds a way through her faith.
Leigh’s story of faith and diagnosis is not one this author has heard a lot of in his own journey. It was refreshing to see a journey like the one we see with Leigh. To have faith even in the deepest depths of depression is something worth writing about.
It takes a special person to be willing to talk about her journey with her faith and being Bipolar. When I begin to write these individual feature articles, I don’t know what I will find. But so far, I have seen amazing stories the stories of how strong the human spirit is. It’s stronger than I ever would’ve thought imaginable. It is an honor to write down Leigh’s story here on The Bipolar Writer.
If you would like to see more of Leigh you can find her on her WordPress blog:
Panic attacks about nothing. The days where you can’t force yourself out of your bed. Then your mind begins to change, and this time you switch into mania. Your mind races and you have endless energy. It feels as if you are all over the place. The safest places like your own home become a battleground for depression and mania. It’s a typical day dealing with the issues of one human being dealing with her mental illness. Tabbi Ashley—from Western North Carolina.
“The best way to describe this is to imagine yourself facing a lion or a bear that is in the attack position coming toward you. Think how your body responds— you heart rate increases, palms are sweaty, the mind is racing, and your breathing changes,” Tabbi explains in her interview.
Even when the things you love surround you it can take you over. It’s never easy according to Tabbi, and it is pretty hard to describe to those not affected by a mental illness, but she does what we all do. When people ask Tabbi does her best to explain.
Many of our mental illness journey stories come from our childhood experiences and in Tabbi’s life, she can remember struggling with bouts of depression as early as eight-years-old. Growing up, Tabbi on the outside was a normal and sky kid, and her parents had divorced when she was four. It was at this point in Tabbi’s life that changed. It became the catalyst for her later issues with mental illnesses.
“In my childhood. I endured eight years of sexual molestation and neglect. It began shortly after my parents’ divorce,” Tabbi remembers.
Someone so young the abuse in Tabbi’s life might have seemed normal to her. But when she saw the warning signs of another family member, she decided to speak out.
“I finally spoke up to someone outside of the family and moved into another situation.”
If only this was the end of the abuse that Tabbi would endure in her life. In her new living situation, it became another place with physical and verbal abuse. By the time Tabbi reached the age of seventeen, her panic attacks led to a diagnosis. Tabbi had no knowledge at the time for fear that it would only make things worse for her.
In Tabbi’s early twenties she once again found herself in a doctor’s office after an illness recheck. It was a long road from her teen years. Tabbi found herself at the point of exhaustion from fighting her own brain. Tabbi knew nothing about her diagnosis of panic attacks. At this point, she couldn’t take the constant fight in her brain.
“My doctor spoke, and I started crying. I begged him to help me or to tell me to commit myself because I had reached my limit,” Tabbi recalls of that day.
For Tabbi, she got the treatment that most people getting diagnosed for the first time. The doctor diagnosed Tabbi with Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Clinical Depression and prescribed some medication to help. The doctor sent Tabbi on her way.
By March of 2008, Tabbi was struggling with depression. In her mind, she was sure that there was more to what she was dealing with on a daily basis.
“I worked with a therapist and my doctor. They diagnosed me with Bipolar disorder. A year later, my team diagnosed me with PTSD from my years of sexual, verbal, physical abuse, rape, and two abusive relationships.”
It didn’t end there for Tabbi. Six months later her doctor added the diagnosis to schizoaffective disorder. The basis was the fact that Tabbi was having ongoing hallucinations, both auditory and visual. When she is under extreme stress these hallucinations tend to get worse for Tabbi.
As of today, Tabbi has a plethora of official diagnoses. The diagnoses follow as such: Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and PTSD. It was tough for Tabbi before getting her diagnosis. She often struggled to reconcile her struggles with normal people.
“Before my diagnosis, I would look at other people and see that they weren’t like me. They didn’t seem to struggle like me to do everyday tasks. They didn’t seem to have trouble processing things. They didn’t have to close down themselves to get through a single day.”
Nights are always the worst for Tabbi’s PTSD because of her night terrors. Smells and touch are the biggest triggers for her PTSD. But, with working in therapy sessions Tabbi has found her night terrors to be more manageable.
Those of us with a mental illness tend to learn through experience how to deal on a daily basis. Tabbi works best through a good daily routine.
“I try to watch the foods that I eat because I know the things that affect my mood in negative ways. I make sure to walk my dog and do things that make me happy. I also limit the time I spend with toxic and negative people and situations.”
It isn’t always perfect in Tabbi’s world. There are times when she has to deal with her auditory and visual hallucinations with the help of her dog Moose. “If he doesn’t respond or react it’s not real. If he does, then it is.”
Tabbi uses several things in her life to get through her mental illness issues. She works with her car team (a doctor, therapist, and psychiatrist.) Tabbi has a strong but small support system of family, friends, and others with a mental illness. Tabbi doesn’t believe that group therapy would work in her life. Instead her support group of doctors and family is her own version of group therapy.
Making lists are a part of the daily routine for Tabbi. On the good days, she takes full advantage of everything on her daily list. When the harder days hit Tabbi’s life she works on a single goal off her list. If Tabbi completes it, then she works on another until she can’t do any more tasks.
“I try not to beat myself up about it, and I know there is always tomorrow.”
It can be very hard to make long-term plans with the many mental illnesses controlling Tabbi’s daily life. She never makes plans too far in the future because every plan requires the knowledge of what mood she is in at the time.
Her mental illness affects other areas of her life like maintaining a relationship. “I would feel guilty about saddling someone with my issues,” Tabbi responds.
The way that Tabbi processes her emotions is unique to her own battle. It means spending time away from people. Tabbi would rather be alone than have someone judging her on how she deals with her issues daily. Instead, Tabbi focuses on her small group of friends and invests her time and energy with them. Within the mental health community, Tabbi has found the most strength and understanding.
“I’ve learned not to judge someone by outward appearances because everyone is dealing with something, and that on some level, we can all connect with one another.”
One question when interviewing for these feature articles is a favorite of mine. I get to ask the interviewee what they would like to share with the mental illness community in this article. Tabbi wanted to share this little piece of wisdom.
“I have survived many things in my life. But, I can say that the hardest fight I’ve ever had is the fight with my own mind. We have to remind ourselves and each other that we need to keep fighting. We can rejoice in those moments that we have peace and a calm mind. We should focus on what we can do now. We should be educating people. At the same time breaking down the stereotypes to show everyday people to never give up.”
The therapeutic nature of writing one’s journey and experience writing on a blog is important to many of us. Tabbi finds that when she is struggling the most, her blog allows her to shares her story and experiences. She makes amazing connections with others that have similar experiences. He blog allows her share these experiences through the written word, and it has meant the word to Tabbi.
The biggest question that faces many of us that live with the daily struggle of a mental illness is what makes life worth living?
“What makes my life worth living changes on a daily basis,” Tabbi explains. “When I get down I have to remind myself that my nieces and nephews need me. My dog always with me and he needs me. I do important work in my community and they need me. When my brain tells me that no one would miss me, I count my blessings.”
Tabbi wishes to convey that she believes that no one has to be alone in the struggles of a mental illness. There are many resources and one of the best is reaching out to someone. You can always find someone to listen.
“It might not be the first person, but don’t give up. It’s okay to reach out and need someone to help you. We’re created to help one another.”
Tabbi’s story is one that was such a pleasure to write here on the Bipolar Writer. I learn so much from the people I interview for these features. It is amazing that given what she has been through, Tabbi still looks to help others like her. We all have a journey that has taken us to different places in our lives. It was an honor to share Tabbi Ashley’s story. If you want to know more about Tabbi you can find her blog here:
If there is one thing that I have learned while writing interview features on my blog is that in every walk of life for someone dealing with a mental illness, the story is different. Our stories are what define us, and hopefully, make us better people in the end.
I always imagined telling the story of someone much like myself, and in truth, I have a real affinity for stories. It was amazing the number of people willing to have me share their story.
When I first met Tony, it was on my blog, and over the course of just a short time, he shared pieces of his experience within my blog posts. When the opportunity came to share the major parts of his story, Tony jumped at the chance to be featured on The Bipolar Writer. Here is the story of one human being and his journey from his orgins to today—Tony from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
How does one deal daily with the struggle of a mental illness? Tony’s explains his daily experience in this way, “Having depression is like having a fog, of varying colors, consistencies, smells that kind of sharp itself, hovers, reveals and conceals different things at different times.”
It is always easier to capture how a person feels in their own words, and in the interview with Tony, he uses his creative side to describe the daily struggle with depression.
When talking further about depression Tony had this to say, “Sometimes, heavy as a lead blanket, sinking to the ocean floor. Other times sparse, allowing more breathable air, less stifling. Sometimes it’s grey, other times it is pink. But the fog is there, it just looks and feels different at times.”
The “fog” that Tony describes is commonly thought of how depression feels, and it can mean the difference between a good day and bad one. For Tony, the fog means simple daily tasks taking up most of this morning with time stretching out like a wad of gum, seconds cutting like blades, and every moment weighted down by the depression.
Tony can trace his diagnosis to his childhood days. When he was very young, Tony was diagnosed dysthymia (mild depression) with severe depressive episodes in which he describes as, “Kind of like cloudy, with a chance of storms.”
It was much later and recent when he received the diagnosis of Bipolar Two and avoidant personality disorder.
An avoidant personality disorder is described as a psychiatric condition characterized by a lifelong pattern of extreme social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and sensitivity to rejection. But for Tony, this diagnosis means so much more, “It’s a tendency to retreat than to face things (problems) face on.” This is common with someone with a mental illness, but for Tony, his avoidance is rooted in the history that is can only be told in his own words.
“I don’t really remember having a mental illness or not having a mental illness.”
It is easier to walk in another person with a mental illness’ shoes if you know his story, and Tony’s story is one of amazing perseverance in the face of turmoil. Tony was adopted at birth by a devoted family with loving parents, but he describes their personalities as much different than his own. “My adopted father was a hard-working gregarious man who severe Bipolar disorder who had to go off work permanently while I was still young,” Tony recalls.
Tony’s mother, who was also a nurse, spent most of her free time with her husband’s issues leaving little time for Tony and his sister. “She too was loving and kind, but distant as well.” It was most likely this isolation that led Tony to begin to show signs of his avoidant personality disorder and it didn’t help that he was diagnosed so young with mild depression.
Tony was identified at a very young age as a gifted child and got through his elementary school days well enough, and weathered most of the storms at home. But, Tony began to use food as a coping mechanism and began to gain weight all the way to the beginning of his high school days. At this point in Tony’s life, we see how turmoil can lead someone down disastrous behaviors with depression as the copilot.
Tony remembers his early days and describes himself as having crooked teeth and a lazy eye, which led to severe bullying in teen years, “By the time high school hit, I was already 300lbs, and was bullied on a daily basis. I started having the shit kicked out of me. I hated school so much I would set my alarm to 2 am and hit snooze for the next four hours until it was time to get up so that I could fall asleep and wake that many times knowing I didn’t have to get up and face the day.”
With the daily torment of his peers and need to find a way to cope with the darkest depths of his depression, Tony chose to use hallucinogens dropping acid or eating mushrooms just to get through the moments of his school life. It only made things worse for that he was labeled a stoner and had little support from his teachers who cared little about the struggling teen.
“I dropped out, I isolated, I sat in my bedrooms for weeks on end, not showering, doing anything, barely surviving. I was depressed. I was allowed and encouraged to be depressed by an ill parent.” It can be tough living with a parent that mirrors your own issues, and these types of relationships, when reflected on later in life, this can feel destructive.
It was tough going for Tony for most of his childhood and his teenage years. But as a human being, our journey is one that teaches us perseverance, and though it may seem as if this life is not worth living in the struggles of a mental illness, there is always a time when things feel okay. As if life is showing you a little light in the darkest places.
Tony eventually found that he could be functional after losing the majority of the weight he gained over the years. Tony found a few years of “normalcy” that often comes with the end of a depression cycle. In this period of time Tony made the decision to go back to school where he received his college diploma in Social Service Work. As most stories with a mental illness go, this short period of normalcy was quickly followed by a glut of personal tragedies in his adult life.
Everyone experiences personal tragedies in their life, but for someone prone to severe depression it will often sink the sufferer deeper into depression as a response. The shorter the period of time and succession of tragedies can often leave a mental illness to suffer little time to compartmentalize these events.
“I experienced in a short period of time my dad’s brief fight with cancer, my sister’s own discovery of her own battle with cancer, the ending of my marriage, which was followed with the birth of a daughter who was born at 1lb 3oz at 25 weeks with bleeding on her brain and a hole in her heart.”
Even the strongest of us in the mental health community can only hold on for so long. It is no surprise given the succession of tragedies in Tony’s life that he had a psychotic break and was hospitalized for twenty-one days. Tony recalls that experience well, “It was frightening, but I felt safe, and I away from all the shit of the world for a short period, and I didn’t have anything to do but get better.” It was in this experience that Tony started writing and doing collage art.
In Tony’s experience, it is often tough to get through a single day with his mental illness. When he is symptomatic he uses routines that help him complete tasks in a ritualistic way. It helps that Tony gets through a day alive, but on the worst days, he only accomplishes a fraction of what he had planned. To combat the bad days, he focuses on his limitations, trying not to get too ahead of himself, and try hard not to take the bad too seriously. These types of behaviors come from years of dealing with the darkness and finding wisdom.
That wisdom showed when Tony was asked about if he ever had suicidal thoughts, “Yes, I have several times. Once I got close enough to downing a bottle of pills that I knew enough to drag myself to the ward. When you can’t trust yourself with your pills, you know you’re in trouble.”
Writing can be the most therapeutic part of the life of someone with a mental illness. I know in my own experiences that is true, and Tony has found his place in his own blog and writing. In talking about his story with me it has helped Tony to process the past and to look to be grounded in the present.
“My blog and being creative in general have meant the world to me. I am not someone who talks about things. I sit on them” he recalls. Tony believes that seeking help is an important part of his recovery, but engaging others through creative expression is an amazing experience that he cherishes.
In Tony’s life, he often finds solace and happiness in the little things in his life that make it easier to deal with his mental illness. Tony has his kids, nature, art, music, friends, and family that are his support system in his darkest times.
Every one of the human beings in the mental illness community wants their story to be one of many that make a difference or end the stigma that surrounds all of us. “At some point in our lives,” he explains, “I am pretty sure we could all meet the requirements for a mental disorder diagnosis. It’s okay. If we are honest and brave enough to be vulnerable and tell people what we are feeling, it’s a start.”
Tony believes that we all have a vulnerability that keeps us from seeking help, but if we are willing to be open-minded and willing to accept that we have a mental illness it could mean getting the right help. Tony believes that it’s not about weakness, laziness, or morals. It is about your health and illness.
Tony wants to tell the world his story, the ups, the downs, his love for his poetry and his art; to be featured on The Bipolar Writer in Tony’s eyes is a vital part of his healing process. Tony’s is one of the many, but there is no doubt that his story has to be told.
Here are some links to written poetry Tony wanted to share:
Starting this month I will be reposting each of my interviews of the “Interview Feature” series. This was something I started in 2017, and while I have not the time at the moment to write new ones, I am planning on writing a book with many interviews in the future if I can get my Patreon account. With that said, here is the first one I ever wrote.
Since the inception of my blog The Bipolar Writer it has been my goal to write the stories of others like myself. I have written my own story in my memoir (also entitled The Bipolar Writer) and sharing my experiences on my blog. Every human experience in having to live with a mental illness is unique to that human being and the suffering from it is also unique. It is why I believe it is imperative that I share other’s stories, so here is the story of one brave mental illness sufferer—Morgan who lives in Australia.
The daily struggle of waking up every day to a mental illness can be a struggle and for Morgan, it is no different. Morgan has always felt that her daily mental illness struggle is a hard one, and had this to say, “My mental illness has always been very affected by what’s going on around me, some days it much worse than others.”
We all have that story of when we went from the unknown to the known with our diagnosis. Surrounded by the people Morgan loved on her twenty-first birthday, it became clear to her that in that moment she could barely acknowledge the event and a feeling of numbness. Only broken by the speech of her godparents and seeing the face of a filmmaking mentor, seemed to register to Morgan that day. “I was very lucky that afterward a very close friend, who suffered from anxiety herself, stayed behind and I decided to tell her how I felt,” she recalls.
Sometimes it takes just one person to listen before you realize you need help.
It was here that Morgan, after talking with her friend who recommended that she seek help, that she made the decision we all face. Two weeks later she was diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety and moderate to severe depression.
We all have a history, a time before our diagnosis where we had little to no understanding of what was going on in our lives, and Morgan remembers many times since she was a child that anxiety was a constant and silent companion. Morgan describes her early experiences as just a part of her personality growing up, a common thought during the early stages of anxiety. Like most things with a mental illness, her anxiety grew over time.
Morgan remembers that her anxiety was always there with her since she was a child, and at times she felt more anxious than other times, but the feeling never left her. Morgan recalls her memories with anxiety in an interesting way, but not uncommon, “I have no memory of not having anxiety, which is not surprising seeing as many people on my mother’s side of the family suffer from it.”
Anxiety is often the silent partner for the sufferer, and you hardly know it’s there until it makes it presence known. Identifying other family members when looking back your history of the causes of anxiety in their own life is common, and it no surprise that Morgan can link anxiety through her experiences with her family.
Death is an important part of our lives, and the inevitable part of life is that you will lose someone close to you, for someone with a mental illness this can be devastating. It was this way in Morgan’s life, and it was important enough that she brought it up in her interview with me, “My anxiety definitely became much worse after the death of my father and the suicide of someone I had grown up with within two months of each other when I was nineteen.”
The feelings associated with death in the mind of someone who is devastated with anxiety, depression, and grief can make a person with mental illness turn to the only thing they truly know when it comes to emotions—deeper feelings into the depths of depression—of feeling lost and alone.
“I experienced my first panic attack after their deaths, and I would go on to experience both moderate and severe ones in the years that followed,” Morgan explains.
For Morgan, depression was a much different beast, but still important. Looking back, Morgan can trace her first feelings of prolonged depressive moods to age ten or eleven, when her family issues started to affect her life. Her father was in early stages of vascular dementia which caused Morgan’s father to get easily frustrated with his family. At the age Morgan was at, having to go through puberty while dealing with depression, made it hard for Morgan’s childhood to be a normal one.
Depression would become a factor along with physical pain that affected her in school work over the course of her young and teenage life.
There are so many triggers in one’s life that can start a depressive episode, and Morgan recalls several in her life. One constant problem in Morgan’s life is that her physical problems have always triggered depression episodes. “During puberty, I began to experience severe stomach pain and nausea on and off, within a year lightheadedness and fatigue became frequent symptoms,” Morgan remembers growing up.
It was the beginning of what would become a trend in Morgan’s life with her physical problems causing depression that, in turn, affected her schooling. With her depression came plummeting school work and effectiveness in school over the years as a teen. It culminated for Morgan in her final year where once again her unknown mental illness issues made things impossible, “Even though I had amazing teachers, my prestigious school could only compromise so much, and halfway through my final year, I was told I wasn’t able to graduate.”
How can anyone, let alone someone who is dealing with the dark places depression can take you to, deal with this kind of heartbreak? Morgan remembers what it felt like, “I can remember thinking about ways to die most days.”
This feeling of wanting to die when faced with such emotional pain is common among those within the mental health community. It is easy to empathize with Morgan because at one point many of us have had to deal with this feeling. Some, like myself, have given into suicidal idealizations. For Morgan, even with her growing mental illness problems, she had to choose and she chose to work on her physical health.
People can also be major triggers of depression in the life of someone with a mental illness, and often they leave the deepest of emotional scars on our lives. When Morgan’s parents first sent her to group therapy as a young impressionable teen, it was far from the normal. Morgan describes the group therapy that parents put her into as an alternative and “hippy” where other kids that had been through the program would come back to help. The problem? Most of the kids were still dealing with their own problems and still in need of help. It is here that Morgan first met an older boy who changed her—and not for the better.
Morgan recalls this relationship as unstable and one she couldn’t live without at the time.
“I developed a very strong crush on one of the older boys who were there to help, and he quickly realized how he could use my emotional feelings to manipulate me.”
Over the next four years of her teenage life, she stayed in touch with this boy, and she recalls that during this period of her life, her depression mood swings went from occasional to a constant menace. Morgan remembers the negative thoughts that this boy brought to her life, “One of my strongest memories of him now is the text messages telling me how much pain I was causing others by being in their lives, and how I was worthless.” For Morgan, this was a daily occurrence and a recognizable one for many dealing with a mental illness.
This boy confirmed every fear and anxious thought that Morgan ever had about herself, but the connection had always been there for Morgan, and cutting off this person from her life was filled with difficulties. As humans with a mental illness, we often attach ourselves to situations where it only serves to further our negative thoughts. We feel as if we are not good enough for the world, so these relationships, no matter how destructive, can lead to deeper attachments.
Eventually, on her sixteenth birthday, Morgan finally cut off all contact and ended a relationship filled with emotional cuts that stayed with her for many years.
Not all people that come into the lives of someone with a mental illness are negative influences. In her journey, Morgan has found two people at school that became saviors in her life and they are still a positive influence. In her late teen years, Morgan found the strength to fight her ups and downs with depression with filmmaking and found solace in her friend Alice who became her rock after her father’s death. When Morgan finally sought help it became clear that her past was affecting her future, and since has grown with her experiences.
“I’d known since I was twelve that I had some form of depression, after all, most of my symptoms matched the ones I’d heard of in group therapy, but getting my official diagnosis of anxiety was life-changing.”
These days Morgan gets through her daily struggles with the help of important medications like anti-depressants and breathing exercises that she learned in cognitive behavioral therapy to help cope with anxiety. Morgan also credits a strong support system of family and quality friends who not only know what is wrong with her but offer help in her those times of great need, supporting her along her journey.
When Morgan has a panic attack, she has learned to tell herself, “Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.”
In Morgan’s life, she has found solace in the things that make her life worth living. Close personal friends that are always there for her. Morgan’s boyfriend of eighteen months has seen the worst of her diagnosis and is still is a constant patient and supportive influence every day. Throughout her life, she has been lucky to have her parents that always encouraged her creativity and dreams. It was Morgan’s mother who fostered her creativity, “My mother passed on her love of art and cafes, and we still share wonderful deep emotional conversations together, which are the main ways I process life.”
Of course, Morgan has her cat, Alistair (a Dragon Age reference perhaps) who is always a wonderful distraction from the rest of the world.
In every journey of a human being going through a mental illness you can find real wisdom in the struggle, and Morgan wants her story to be one of many that will help with the goals she sets out to tell her story here on The Bipolar Writer blog, “One of my biggest goals is to reduce the stigma around taking medication. I chose not to take medication for a long time, and it’s one of my biggest regrets I have in life.”
Morgan also believes that the stigma that comes with having a mental illness keeps teens and young adults from seeking help. Morgan recalls when she first started to realize that she was dealing with depression, she saw daily shirts that said, “Cheer Up Emo Kid” which were quite popular in Australia. These types of stereotypes in Morgan’s mind further the stigma that just smiling should be enough to cure you. No one human being chooses to have a mental illness and it can be scary to even think about getting help, but Morgan believes she can change this by telling her story.
“If I could choose this life, I thought, why the hell would you think I would choose this? It is very important to realize your mental illness is not your fault, but you can do something about it.”
In this mental illness life, there is always someone to talk to, a professional or a friend that you can trust. If Morgan could change one other thing about the stigma that comes with a mental illness it would be this, “It’s important to know that there is help out there, even if you aren’t well enough to seek it out in this moment.”
Many of human beings that will be featured on The Bipolar Writer blog cite their creating content on their blogs as one of the biggest thing that makes life worth living. Morgan calls her blog a place of solace that helps keep her steady,
“My blog keeps me from going insane by giving me a little goal to achieve every day, whether it’s replying to comments, writing a new blog post, or promoting on social media.”
Morgan is a filmmaker and writer who was diagnosed with endometriosis at seventeen and depression and generalized anxiety at twenty-one. She uses her creativity as an essential part of her healing process.
Courtney’s Interview Feature: Living with Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a unique mental illness diagnosis. It comes with uncontrollable mood swings that can happen every minute of every other day. The unpredictability of Borderline Personality Disorder can make any day the worst ever.
“They range from anger to sadness to even happiness,” Courtney explains. “But the feelings I have are mostly negative.”
Courtney from Waterford, Michigan, is living every way with the realities of BPD. Two and half years ago Courtney found solace. It would come in the form of a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. But like many of us in the mental illness community, the journey to the rightdiagnosis was a rough one for Courtney.
“Before my diagnosis with BPD, I had different diagnosis’s ranging from depression alone to Bipolar. My life was a complete disaster. There was no such thing as a “normal” day.”
In her early years, Courtney would deal with constant mood swings. The mood swings made family life impossible at times. Verbal arguments were common, and it leads to instability in her family life. It was not uncommon for Courtney to try to commit suicide. On more than one occasion she had to live through the reality of suicide attempts that seemed to come out of nowhere.
“My moods would flip as easy as it was to toss a coin,” Courtney recalls. “There was no telling how my day would start, or how they would end. It was scary.”
Courtney will admit she doesn’t have the best memory. She often has a tough time reliving the past, or even remember it. “I wouldn’t wish what I endured those years before my diagnosis on anyone.”
It’s not all negative in Courtney’s life. Courtney surrounds herself with people that support who she is. This support system includes her husband, mother, and Courtney’s therapist. The positive part in her BPD comes from the right medications and a good psychiatrist.
“The medication prescribed to me that I take every day,” Courtney explains. “I believe it plays a big positive part in my BPD.”
There are daily struggles that Courtney must face. The emotional instability that comes with Courtney and her BPD can make life hard. It can be hard to maintain a relationship, even with the ones that Courtney loves. Anxiety and depression often make themselves companions next to her BPD. On any given day she will feel lazy and depressed.
It is not uncommon for Courtney to want to do her entire to-do-list for the year in one day. It can be exhausting, but she always finds a way. Support is her most prominent ally.
“My mental illness affects my life every day. Little things that shouldn’t bother me, bother the hell out of me,” she explains about how BPD affects her life. “I get irritable over the little things, and sometimes I have no control over my anger.”
Courtney by nature isn’t a violent person, but at times she is on the edge of exploding at any moment. Three things contribute to this feeling. One part Anxiety. One part Depression. One part Borderline Personality Disorder. It can be a disastrous combination.
“It affects my relationship with my husband, my kids, family, and even friends.”
We all have a goal when writing our blog, something we want to share with the mental illness community. For Courtney, her message is one of education.
“I want people to become educated and aware of mental illnesses,” she explains. “There is a stigma that surrounds people like us, and it needs to die. That’s why the title of my blog is “kill the stigma.” I want people to open up about their struggles, to not be afraid of backlash, or to receive support. I want people to be able to talk about mental illness as easy as they talk about a cold.”
For Courtney, writing a blog has done wonders for her life. It is her way to cope and at the same time receive affirmation. It’s not about the comments or the followers from Courtney’s perspective. It’s about people viewing and reading what she is presenting to the blogging world.
What Courtney is doing with her blog is educating and finding a way to make a difference. She writes to teach on topics like depression, anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder.
“I have already done that on a small scale. It also helps me to know I am not alone. I have had several people close to me and distant have reached out. What they are saying is how they have dealt with their own illnesses and wish they had a voice like me.”
My favorite question that I ask in these interview features is what in their life makes life worth living? Courtney’s answer is why I love to ask this question.
Courtney finds peace in the little things in life that make living worth it. She mentions her husband, mother, children, and her belief in God. “I remember how much they love me, and how much I love them. It helps to feel wanted and needed, and I’ve never felt either of those things as much as I do currently.”
There is also the personal things in her life that Courtney wants to work on. She recognizes that she is not the best person in the world. Courtney works each day to strive to be a better person despite BPD.
Courtney recognizes one crucial thing that makes life worth living. It is this knowledge that those of us in the mental illness community should live by.
“If I were to kill myself today, I wouldn’t be able to be a better person. I would go to hell, according to my beliefs. I don’t want either of those things, so the hope that I have now makes life worth living.”
The alternative to the negative thinking that Courtney displays is positive. Its roots are in her past experiences with suicide.
Within the confines of her journey, Courtney has often had suicidal idealizations. For a good part of her life and journey, this was a regular thing. Courtney believed that it was normal to think about all the ways that you wanted to die.
“As a teenager, I didn’t know any different,” she remembers. ” I have had suicidal thoughts ever since I can remember. I would think about cutting my slitting my wrists, about driving my car into a poll at 100 mph, or swallowing pills. I even thought about putting a gun to my head and pulling the trigger.”
In the present time, Courtney struggles with these thoughts less and less. It helps to have the right system in place. For Courtney, she relies on the right medication, therapy, support, and coping skills. It is within this system that helps her combat these thoughts.
It doesn’t mean that Courtney hasn’t gone down the road of trying to take her life. “I have attempted suicide three times, and the first time I flatlined. It took Narcan to revive me. I thought it would never make me want to commit suicide again.”
This thought was great for Courtney, but was temporary and only for a time. She would go on to attempt to take her life two more times. It was through these trials and getting the right support that keeps her steady. Its enough for Courtney to stay off the suicide path.
“It takes time. There is no instant cure and that’s what I wanted. I was expecting it for so long, I wasn’t patient enough.”
Courtney wants to share through this feature article many vital pieces of wisdom. The first is that mental illness can happen to anyone. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, and it can affect anyone.
“I am glad that I’m winning,” Courtney explains. “I am so glad I am winning. I finally feel like I have my mental illness under control after more than a decade. And you know what? It was so worth the wait and effort.
Courtney is at a level that we all hope to get to, a place where you are good with your diagnosis. Her words of wisdom speak truthfully. In my own experiences, all I have been through got me to a right place with my own diagnosis. It is the most fantastic feeling in the world, but the battles are what made us stronger. It has made Courtney stronger.
If you would like to know more about Courtney and her journey you can find her writings on her blog.
When I was looking through her blog, this post stood out the most. You can find so many great pieces on Courtney’s journey with Borderline Personality Disorder on her blog.