About a year ago, I was diagnosed with Major Depression and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). It was a diagnosis that was agreed upon both my psychiatrist and I, as we went through the DSM together to make sure we were on the same page.
Throughout this past year, I went through phases of really struggling with some of the physical symptoms of OCD. But after about 6 months or so, it started to decrease. It shows more of as an anxious mind, then being obsessive over certain things unlike before.
14 months after, I moved to a new city, and met with a new psychiatrist recently.
After talking through my past diagnoses with my new doctor, he labeled major depression and generalized anxiety disorder as my diagnoses as he was filling the prescription. He said my thought process seemed more closely to someone that struggles with anxiety, rather than having the obsessive and compulsive behaviors/mindset.
I had to agree with him, but I was a bit lost.
Whenever I spoke about my mental health, I disclosed to others that I struggle with OCD and Depression – and it felt like it was just a part of me that I live my life with.
But when my new doctor said he doesn’t see the OCD part anymore, it felt like an old bud has left me.
Is this normal to feel this way? Or am I holding on to something strange?
I always celebrate the significant milestones of the Bipolar Writer blog. I know I am not around as much, but I wanted to say The Bipolar Writer blog has reached the 12,000 followers milestone!
I wanted to say thank you to everyone following this blog and keeping it going. To my contributors, thank you for being there even when I can not by creating valuable mental health content. Let us celebrate our mental health advocacy, mental illness, and mental health recovery wellness.
Always Keep Fighting
James, and the Contributors of The Bipolar Writer blog
It has been a struggle to keep up writing new content for The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog. With my hectic schedule with my graduate courses, my freelance work, and my writing projects there is just not enough time to do everything that I want to get done. I want to change this narrative.
So, this blog post is asking what type of new content would you like to see on this blog. It can me anything mental related and I will make sure that I write good post. So leave your ideas in the comments.
I initially refused to start medication because I was afraid I might have to take it forever.
Now, being on it – my fear is gone. I am no longer afraid to be medication for the rest of my life. I appreciate the change it brought to my life, and I am rather very thankful for the help it gave me.
However, not everyone seems to see it this way.
One most frequently asked question from my family and friends would be – “When are you planning on cutting it off? Do you still get anxious and sad if you miss a dose?”
Truly, I don’t know. I don’t know when I would be getting off these pills and yes, I think there are some effect that takes if I miss a dose for few consecutive days.
Why is it that me, the one who is actually facing this is OKAY, doing life with my psychotropic medications have to reassure others that I am okay?
I understand my families and friends are coming from a place of care and compassion.
However, I don’t know how to tell them I don’t plan on getting off this medication anytime soon without giving them the thought that I am “dependent” on it.
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.
It was always the goal for me to write full-time. It has always been a dream of mine to be financially stable enough to write full-time. I have been a struggling writer for a long time, and my experiences with my mental illness have been shared here so many times here on my blog. I do struggle holding down a full-time job and my work with freelance has been up and down. With the change of medication, and the fact that I am feeling much better it is time to officially launch my Patreon account.
Patreon is a way for artists like me to connect to my readers in a real way, and at the same time, it offers tiers for special offers that keep you in the loop of what I am working on a the moment.
This is the official look at what a Patreon account looks like: Patreon is a crowdfunding membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service, with ways for artists to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to their subscribers, or “patrons”.
If I can get my Patreon account going, it means a lot of things. The first is working on my current writing projects full-time and have enough money to hire a top-tier copy editor, so that when I self-publish The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir it is the best possible product. It will give me the time to create a book about the members of the mental illness community beyond just my memoir. I want to start a podcast that will show the many phases of mental ilness and people’s experience.
Once I meet my goals, I will be able to offer merchandise and, of course, copies of my books. I can do so many great things for the mental illness community. There are so many great things I can accomplish. The lowest tier is $2 and $5. I know I have asked a lot of the mental illness community of late and this is just something I have good feeling inside my heart
If you can help that would be amazing. I am genuinely in awe of people in the mental illness community. If you have questions about how to sign up and join a tier please reach out. It can be a confusing process.
Update: I got my first three patrons. I am really excited.
Here is what Patreon is according to their Website:
For creators, Patreon is a way to get paid for creating the things you’re already creating (webcomics, videos, songs, whatevs). Fans pay a few bucks per month OR per post you release, and then you get paid every month, or every time you release something new. Learn more about becoming a creator on Patreon.
For patrons, Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator’s community and pay them for making the stuff you love. Instead of literally throwing money at your screen (trust us, that doesn’t work), you can now pay a few bucks per month or per post that a creator makes. For example, if you pay $2 per video, and the creator releases 3 videos in February, then your card gets charged a total of $6 that month. This means the creator gets paid regularly (every time she releases something new), and you become a bonafide, real-life patron of the arts. That’s right–Imagine you, in a long frilly white wig, painted on a 10-foot canvas on the wall of a Victorian mansion. And imagine your favorite creators making a living doing what they do best… because of you.
My goal in my Patreon account is for me to connect with my followers to a point where they become a part of the experience. I have created tiers on my Patreon account that give a patron a level of access to my writing that has never before been seen.
I want to be able to write full-time, and this idea, using patrons that have access to my work monthly work through a subscription service can help me achieve some significant goals. The first goal is to pay for a legit editor for The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir. I am going to self-publish, but I want this book to reach every person possible. That means releasing the best work possible.
A second goal for creating a Patreon account is to start new projects. I am planning on starting a mental health podcast with fellow advocate because she has very unique perspectives on her mental health. I want to be able to share the stories of others much like my interview series.
That leads me to the next goal, writing a book on different members of the community much like Humans of New York with a focus on the many faces of mental illness. There are so many more things I want to do to spread the word and end the stigma, and I think Patreon will allow me to reach these goals.
The most basic tier is $2. If half of the fantastic people here on The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog sign up, I can begin to reach new levels in my writing.
There have been some changes to the blog already in place. The business level allows me to add new tools to get our message out to a better audience.
I will admit, I am not the best at making everything work, so I am looking for someone with experience that can take the plug-ins that come with the business level and make everything better. There will be an upcoming store soon which the goal here is to help others sell their work through this blog (I am still working on this.) There will be changes in the coming weeks and I will keep you updated. Stay strong in the fight.