Being Invalidated by a Bad Apple

Abuse is present in all kinds of relationships: from personal to professional, from sexual to medical, where ever there are humans, abuse exists. Unfortunately, no one is safe from experiencing it in any of its forms, especially in regards to mental health. In my own mental health journey, I have been fortunate with my connections, but I know so many out there have not. I know no two instances are alike, and abuse can take many forms in this world. My most recent experience with it has prompted me to bring this story to light. It is raw, and possibly chaotic in nature, but it is where I am at right now.

I am a young woman, a wife, and a mother, who just so happens to be diagnosed with Bipolar II. This diagnosis has been following me around for over eleven years, and it is not something I take lightly. I want to feel okay and happy. I want to feel normal, and if medication and therapy are required for this to happen, then so be it. I am worth the extra effort. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but I have never felt as if my team against me…until a few weeks ago. 

Back in August, my husband and I agreed we would start trying for baby #2, but I knew this meant I needed to get things prepped for my mental health ahead of time. When I was pregnant with my son, I struggled – because there was no safe medication for me to take at the time. Last year, my then psychiatrist told me if I was going to get pregnant again, there were options this time around. He knew me and knew intimately about what happened to me when I was pregnant. No one wanted to go through that again. 

Unfortunately, due to family circumstances on his end, he left, and I was given to someone new. He seemed nice and agreed to go off my previous doctor’s notes on my condition for starters and adding his own as we got to know each other. I saw no problem with this sentiment and was willing to give him the chance despite my hesitation because I was thrown to someone new so suddenly.  

As time progressed, I tried to trust him, but something always felt off and awkward with him. Sometimes a comment he made drew question marks in my head, but I brushed it off because we weren’t sitting face to face because of COVID. We only talked on the phone. Sometimes it was a ten-minute call, sometimes it was three minutes, but I felt we were on the same page.  

Before my husband and I talked about getting pregnant, I knew I wanted a game plan in place. I wanted time to get used to new meds and adjust as needed. My psychiatrist was an instrumental part in this plan, so setting up an appointment to discuss my options non-negotiable. Per instructions by my previous doctor and my own research, I already had an idea of what I needed, but I had to bring it up with my prescriber to get it. Simple and straightforward, right? WRONG! 

When the words of “trying to get pregnant” and “what are your suggestions” left my lips, the atmosphere of the conversation changed. Keep in mind, I have been diagnosed by four different psychiatrists, over the course of about sixteen years, that I have Bipolar II. I have been on the appropriate medication for that diagnosis for eleven years, and when I am consistent with taking the medication, I am stable.  

This man had the gall to let “Bipolar II is just a theory” and “many women find the symptoms go away during and after pregnancy” leave his pathetic lips. Despite me bringing up the recommended medication and explaining what happened the last time I was pregnant, he ignored me. Now, I refused to leave this session empty-handed, so he gave me two medications for “as needed” irritability and depression, low dosages with the possibility of increases. I am Bipolar, not irritable. 

I assumed this was better than nothing and began tapering my medication as designed and filled the prescriptions. After several days, I found I had to start taking more than the ‘low dosages’ to have any sort of effect, and I hit a major side-effect wall. I could either feel like I was drunk all day or be depressed. Since I work full-time and must be mentally sharp, I stopped taking the meds. I gave them less than 2 weeks, but they were not working in any capacity as he said they would.  

My therapist was appalled at his words but brushed them off when I spoke to her about it. She looked up my file and found he had not written anything he said to me, in my file (why would he?). Though she did not convince me directly, I put in a request to transfer psychiatrists the next day. Never have I ever been invalidated by a medical professional to my face like that, and even though I am struggling now because of him, I won’t let him win. 

Developing a Diagnosis Dictionary

Last week I wrote about how SMD mad I was about being classified as something.  Ticked off by someone else who would doom me to no WOman’s mental illness land and I would cry uncontrollably, deteriorate significantly, and require care in a padded room for eternity as is the life of I dunno, severely sick anything.  And for a long time, I got cross about that.  I got to cross that my future, my life, my children’s lives, were determined by less than a 15-minute consultation where someone says oh, I dunno, your brain is going to die soon.  Because that’s how it feels.  Either it’s going to die, or you are going to need a brain transplant (don’t know or think this is recommended).  But as last week’s blog pointed out, after you’ve been ticked as loony, over the hill, whatever, well there aren’t really excellent places to go, other than the candy dispenser at the psych hospital or my personal favorite – the smoking balcony at 2 am in the morning – to keep the nurses on their toes.

So I’ve decided to do something different – and I hope that you will help me.  I want to re-write the dictionary that makes us people with mental illness what we are.  The list of symptoms and synonyms that are used to prescribe and prognosis – what is “wrong” with us.  Heck, I am even prepared to write a more politically correct set of stereotypes, so at least we can be nicknamed more appropriately.  Yes.  It’s like my own mother says I have multiple personality disorder when I don’t.  Gees.  Don’t get the stigma confused!   If you are going to insult me, please use the correctly developed, politically appropriate names people with mental illness allow.

No, I haven’t taken my meds for the longest time – but I want a different set of criteria, analysis and engagement to inform the meds I can and should take, different therapies that work, and the truth about the stuff that doesn’t work.  About the pretty things and the ugly things that families that people with mental illness don’t know about and need to be prepared for.  For example, I always tell my littlest daughter to have a bubble around her heart – and I say this because I’m known to be irritable and snap quickly, even when I really don’t mean to.  Especially not with her.  But it happens, and although I say sorry, perhaps by describing our dictionary more clearly,   by preparing them and us, through the heart-est won experience, we and ours can be ready to face the world with the reality we seek to bring about.   And while that littlest daughter and I love unicorns the most that is not the reality I’m talking about.

For example, I think my first listing would be Ashtma Inducing Anxiety.  This is the kind where you feel your chest close, and you hyperventilate, and you feel like your stomach is a washing machine twisting your guts clothing inside out,  and you may squidge out a nervous fart or two as you calm / a cough yourself down.  Yes, similar indeed.  I am serious, and I am dedicated to building a new future for people with mental illness. I am not a disorder, I am not a description, I am not the only diagnosis and getting it wrong could result really, in another kind of dead, neither you or I want to see.  Help me.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4M’s Bipolar Mom.

Photo Credit: Romain Vignes

When Mental Illness Can Be Difficult to Accept

It is difficult to accept when you first learn you have a mental illness. Sometimes it’s a shock when the doctor tells you, but you believe and trust the doctor and begin exploring options towards recovery. What if it’s not a doctor? What if your family is telling you to get help or telling you why certain behaviors make them think you have a mental illness? Will you accept it when your friends or family say you have a mental illness? I have seen some people reject the idea and run from it instead of considering getting a professional opinion.

I can understand why some people have this reaction. When I first looked into the symptoms of Complex PTSD, I was shocked to learn how much of what I thought was my personality derived from symptoms of this disorder. While I learned many of the things, I didn’t like about myself were symptoms, I also learned many of the behaviors and traits I identified with most were symptoms. This was a hard reality to accept. The inner image I had for myself was wrong and I felt lost. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

It took some time, but I eventually started to accept this new self-image. Certain things were reidentified in different ways, but I am still the person I have always been. This new information only made me understand myself more. I know myself better than I did. It takes time to get to know another person and this is true of knowing oneself. The hardest part is accepting and learning how to move forward. I’m still struggling with moving forward. Most of my life I didn’t have a support system. I have a small group of people now, but the path forward is still difficult.

Anyone who feels their family is attacking them with accusations of mental illness, my advice is to see a professional if for no other reason than to prove everyone wrong. Don’t argue. Offer to see a counselor and get an official diagnosis. Too many mental disorders have similar symptoms and behaviors and it can be hard to determine what is causing certain behaviors. Even from a psychiatric professional, the news is difficult to process and accept. Remember that, despite the stigma, mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and does not make you less of a person. It is one more battle you weren’t expecting, but it can be won. Don’t give up.

Photo Credit: <unsplash-logoPriscilla Du Preez

Journey to a Diagnosis — The Series

It’s hard to sum up about 17 years of ups and downs with mental illness in just a few posts, but that is what I have attempted to do in my “Journey to a Diagnosis” series.  This may just be the beginning.  However, it’s a good start and gives a general overview of  how I went from fear and confusion about what was happening to me, to understanding what mental illness is and the role it plays in my life.

I may add to this as time goes on, and if that’s the case, you will see more links added here.

Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Journey to a Diagnosis–The Series:

Journey to a Diagnosis, Part I

Journey to a Diagnosis, Part II

Journey to a Diagnosis, Part III

Bipolar Disorder is Part of My Mental Illness Life but It is Not My Life

A few days ago I wrote a post titled “You Don’t Have Bipolar Disorder” which are the words my new psychiatrist told me after seeing me three times. He also told me I had borderline personality disorder, PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder.

After I was given my bipolar 1 disorder diagnosis 25 years ago, I researched it extensively. I did not want to have a mental illness and especially not bipolar disorder. I tried to fight it every step of the way as long as I could and was in denial far too long. Believe me if there was something I could find to prove to my doctors that I did not have bipolar disorder I would have found it. I couldn’t find anything to disprove my bipolar diagnosis. There was no mistaking it. I had bipolar 1 disorder. After many years I finally accepted my bipolar disorder and then began the long winding road to recovery.

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The anti-depressant Prozac given to me to treat my postpartum depression increased my anxiety triple-fold. I also had symptoms of mania, hypomania, mixed episodes and rapid cycling. I will never know what came first—the chicken or the egg. Did the psychotropic medications cause me to mimic bipolar 1 disorder symptoms or did I always have bipolar? The problem and the answer are the same. It doesn’t matter at this point. It is what it is and it was what it was. The point is that I had bipolar symptoms. I will never know all the answers for sure.

I am happy with my new psychiatrist and welcome his positive comments and new school knowledge. I am not positive if my new P-doc’s diagnosis is correct and it doesn’t really matter right now as I am not taking psychotropic medications. I am over five months psychotropic medication free and am still doing very well. He is monitoring my progress closely and I will stay medication free as long as I am feeling well. I think after taking psychotropic medications for over twenty years and having so many ECT treatments possibly somehow it has transformed my brain positively.

Nothing is cut in stone in the mental health world. There is no scientific proof, x-rays, cat scans or blood work to determine an absolute unfailing diagnosis. When I was given my mental illness diagnoses I was already taking a psychotropic medication that changed my brain chemistry causing severe side effects of increased anxiety, mania and insomnia. Antidepressants can cause bipolar like symptoms. Plus, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder have many similar symptoms and characteristics making it more difficult to make an accurate diagnosis.

Unfortunately, Psychiatrists do not have all the answers and sometimes it is a guessing game at best. They do the best they can with what they are given. I don’t have bad feelings for my diagnoses as they occurred. There is nothing I can do about it today. I can’t change the past. I refuse to visit the what ifs. If I did I could put myself at risk for developing depression and that is the last thing I want to happen.

I have lived with mental illness for over 25 years and nothing can change that. Bipolar is only a label to help treat a mental illness. Bipolar is not who I am but it is a part of who I am and will always be. I feel relieved and feel a little lighter without the bipolar diagnosis if it is true. It lightens my load a little but it is only a word—only a label. It does not change my past or who I am.

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Mental illness diagnoses and labels are given and are necessary to help doctors treat patients, improve their mental health and ensure an optimal quality of life. My mental illness diagnoses and labels from the past helped me survive then. Currently, they increase my awareness of possible triggers, help me understand the cause of my symptoms and which symptoms to watch closely for and have taught me how to cope effectively and reach my optimal mental health and life.

Being diagnosed with mental illness does not always mean forever. Maybe it is like cancer in the sense that we go in remission. Maybe it never goes away completely, but the brain can change favorably over time and mental health can improve. Recently, I read an article that said people diagnosed with personality disorder can reduce their symptoms as they age. This improvement can be caused from changes in the brain chemistry and other treatments such as dialectical behavior therapy being effective for personality disorder. As we age we learn better coping strategies and skills that teach us how to overcome obstacles and struggles in our lives. Surviving many different life experiences helps transform brains and gain necessary inner strength. Maybe the same holds true with bipolar disorder as well. We just don’t have all the answers yet.

I believe I had bipolar 1 disorder and may still have it. Maybe my brain chemistry has changed over the years because of the natural aging process, many different psychotropic medications I took for 25 years, ECT treatments and God. All of the above combined and blended well together with my life experiences and brought me to where I am right now.

I write optimistically not because my life is perfect but because my life is perfectly unperfect. Surviving so many struggles helped me turn my wounds and blemishes into beauty marks.

“Look for beauty in the blemishes of life.” ~Susan Walz

“Turn life’s blemishes into beauty marks.” Susan Walz

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Copyright © 2018 Susan Walz | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved

Journey to a Diagnosis, Part II

Today, I continue the story I began in Part I.

My husband and I drove to the inpatient facility, arriving in about 30 minutes.  I remember being so afraid.  I was afraid of what I was experiencing mentally and frightened of going to this inpatient facility.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I was also sad about leaving my children.  My youngest, only 5 months old, was still breastfeeding.  I had a friend who donated some milk for her to consume in my absence, for which I was grateful.  I had no idea if I would be able to continue nursing after they gave me medications.  There were so many uncertainties that night, but overshadowing all of these emotions was my determination to get help.  There was going to be no turning back.   I was determined to get better–for me and my family.

When we entered the lobby, I remember the lights being dimmed because it was the middle of the night.  Whatever was illuminating the room cast an orange glow over everything.  There was another person in the waiting room, but he appeared to be asleep.  After completing the intake paperwork, we were called back to a small office to meet with a kind man who asked me about my symptoms.  I told him everything that had been happening, no matter how inconsequential it seemed.  He then led my husband and I downstairs where I would be sleeping.  My husband carried my bag down for me and then we hugged and kissed goodbye.  He had to leave to go home at this point.

I can remember how scared I was!  I would be sharing a room with a person I had never met in my life who was there for a similar reason that I was.  I went into the darkened bedroom, quickly changed into my pajamas and lay down on the mattress, but I was too anxious to sleep.  I got up and asked the night nurse for something to help me relax and sleep, but whatever she gave me hardly put a dent in my anxiety.  Eventually, mercifully, I finally slept.

When I awoke in the morning, I realized that my fears were unfounded.  My roommate was an elderly woman named Barbara, and she was kind.   Everyone I met there shared a story similar to mine.  We were all trying to get help.

That first morning I remember getting a doctor’s examination and blood-work.  It didn’t take long for them to get the results back and I was asked by the doctor if I had ever been on thyroid medication.  I had to admit that I had unwisely gone off of it cold turkey.  I was promptly put back on it.  I also met with the psychiatrist who would be supervising my care.  He was also kind.  He is well renowned where I live and I feel grateful to have been in his care.  His name was Doctor Holland.  We chatted briefly and I explained, again, everything that I had been experiencing.  He asked me if anything like this had every happened before.  It hadn’t.

I soon learned that we were kept busy throughout the day with classes and group activities.  These included learning about self care, learning relaxation techniques, doing crafts or exercising.  The first group class I went to, the teacher was leading a discussion about what we enjoyed doing.  Favorite movies were brought up and I shared two of my favorites and then burst into tears with my head down on the table.  The enormity of what I was experiencing was so overwhelming.  The teacher kindly asked if this was my first time with this type of experience and I tearfully shared that it was.  I didn’t understand what was happening to me.

After a short stay in the basement, I was then moved to a room upstairs.  I’m not sure exactly why this happened.  My roommate there was a young girl, about my age.  She was also nice.  It turned out that being in the inpatient facility was not as scary as I imagined it to be.  I was grateful to be there.

Doctor Holland initially diagnosed me as having major depressive disorder.  I was started on anti-depressants and was rapidly titrated up to a therapeutic dose.

It’s been so long ago now that a lot of the details have faded from memory but I do remember that the first antidepressant they tried me on caused my tongue to move involuntarily and made my eyes dart around. My husband came to visit me as often as possible and he came one evening when I was dealing with these side effects. He says he remembers seeing me acting so strangely that on the drive home he was overcome with tears of sadness and helplessness. He was afraid he had lost the Chelsea he loved.

I was switched to a different anti-depressant but it wasn’t long after that that we realized the anti depressants were causing me to go manic. At one point, I felt on the verge of losing touch with reality. I alerted the nurses and apparently this means I was on the verge of psychosis. They were quick in treating the problem. I was given a shot of antipsychotic in my buttocks. Not the best and funnest thing I’ve had to live through. I felt so helpless. I wondered again and again what was going on and how I would get better.

Doctor Holland stopped the antidepressant and started me on mood stabilizers. I was told, at this point, that I would have to stop breastfeeding. I had been pumping at the hospital and sending it home when possible but I stopped doing it. This was heartbreaking to me.

Doctor Holland left to go on vacation. I was put under the care of a different doctor. My symptoms were not improving so another mood stabilizer was added: lithium. This made a total of 3 medications that I was on. High doses of each.

Finally after a few days on lithium, my symptoms stopped. I remember how deeply grateful I was to have calm in my mind!  No more chaos–I can’t even begin to describe how good that felt.  My doctor diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. I was so thankful to know what it was, and even happier that they had figured out how to stop the awful roller coaster.  Finally, after 2 weeks in the inpatient facility, I felt well enough to return to my family at home.

I was released just before Halloween, 2006.

There’s more to this story.  Watch for part III coming soon.

Journey to a Diagnosis, Part I

“What’s wrong with me?” I often thought years ago, as I was beginning my journey with mental illness.  Only, I didn’t know I was on a journey and I didn’t know I had mental illness.  I just knew I didn’t feel like me, and I thought it was my own fault somehow.  I was only about 19 years old at the time, and just recently married.

My husband and I were both going to school full time and working.  Things were very busy, and stressful.  I was gone for most of the daytime at school and work, but home in the evenings.  My husband also had a full load of school but worked nights–cleaning, emptying the trash and pressuring washing at our city bus stops.  It seemed we had little spare time, which meant that there wasn’t much time to recoup and de-stress.  But I didn’t know anything about doing that at the time.  I always watched my mom go go go and thought that being busy was just how adult life is.

The emotional pain seemed to come on gradually, and then became a constant in my life.  There was a long period of time that I remember “faking it”–to everyone.  I plastered on a fake smile and did my best to feel like I normally would but it never worked.  My poor husband, just as new to this as I was, did his best to help me feel better, but we didn’t know what we were dealing with and so nothing really could change.

The main symptoms of this time were the emotional pain, feeling “off,” downward spirals occurring daily (especially at night), and major paranoia.  I was so clueless at the time–understandably.  I knew absolutely nothing about mental illness.  I just kept thinking that there was something wrong with me.  I kept thinking, If I just pray more or study my scriptures more, try harder, or do something differently that I would be able to feel better.  But no matter what I did, nothing improved.  I would take my scriptures to the university library and study them at lunch–praying that I would feel better.  But nothing changed.  At night, when my husband was gone working and I was home alone, I was consumed with fear that I would be killed while he was gone.  I prayed and sang hymns and did what I could to try and change how I felt, but nothing I did had any effect on what I was feeling.  I remember being afraid to take out the trash in broad daylight, because there might be a killer hiding there, waiting to kill me.  During these times, I would fall asleep in a state of fear every night.  I would be lying in my bed, running different scenarios in my head over and over, of how a killer might enter my room and then I’d plan out how I could possibly get away.  It was absolutely awful.

In my husband’s family, there is a person who has suffered from depression for many years.  I finally remember thinking, that maybe I should ask her what depression felt like, because maybe that is what I was dealing with.  I don’t really remember the conversation but I remember that I still didn’t know what I was dealing with afterward.  So I just kept going on as I was before.

Things changed a little when I became pregnant with my first child.  Postpartum, I found out I had hypothyroidism–severely so.  I thought to myself, “Finally!  Finally, I know what is wrong with me!”  I got on the appropriate medications for this condition and felt improvements, but my mental state didn’t change.  As I worked through the process of getting on the right dose for my thyroid, I was constantly calling my doctor in a state of anxiety that we needed to change the dose because I still didn’t feel right.  After a while of this occurring, my doctor called me in and told me that she thought I had depression and anxiety and gave me some samples of medication to start taking.  Having been raised with the idea that people who have depression or mental issues were “weak” or “crazy”, the whole idea of being thrown in with “that lot” made me freak out.  I remember telling the doctor, that I was stronger than this and that I would beat it.  I was very adamant.  However, I took the samples just in case.

I took the samples for a short while, but felt little difference, and ended up stopping them all together when I found out I was pregnant with my second child.  The pregnancy went well and I felt good, for the most part, until after my daughter was born.  Almost immediately afterward, I started having some very troubling and scary symptoms.  I felt “wrong.”  I can’t describe it but what I felt was so scary and so unlike me that I knew something needed to happen.  Still stuck on the role that my thyroid was playing in my mental health, I went off of my thyroid medication cold turkey.  For some reason that did help for a couple months, but then the worst began.

I began having severe mood swings.  One minute I would feel ok, then the next I would feel on top of the world and would think everything was funny and I was awesome.  I would also struggle through intense waves of anxiety. The scariest part of all was the depression.  It seemed to wipe a dark stain across my mind.  Thoughts and feelings of wanting to do myself harm overcame me.  If I looked in the mirror while depressed, my mind would see, in my reflection, an evil version of myself that wanted to hurt me.  I suppose that is a hallucination of sorts.  I also had these overpowering feelings that there were demons around me, that I couldn’t see, that wanted to do me harm.  It was frightening to put it mildly.

Thankfully, I had a friend who had just gone inpatient for postpartum depression.  She counseled me to go in and get evaluated.  I did.  They told me I was too high functioning for the intensity of their inpatient program and that I would probably be ok going to a doctor.  (I was very good at acting “natural”).  Late that same night, as thoughts of suicide started entering my head again, I knew I needed to go in and get help.  I was afraid that I might get to the point where I couldn’t choose not to act on it.  I was afraid of harming myself or my children.

And so, around midnight, I tearfully kissed my sleeping, 5 month old daughter goodbye and my 2 year old son, packed a bag for myself and headed out for the inpatient facility with my husband, while my wonderful mother in law cared for my children in my absence.

This is the beginning of my journey to a diagnosis.  Look for more in part II, coming soon.

Introduction

If you have ever ridden a roller coaster, you understand the excitement and fear that courses through your mind and body as you burst through the track. You experience such an intense jolt of so many emotions as your breath is stolen from falling and you only have enough time to take another breath as you ascend. In a lot of ways, bipolar disorder seems to share many similarities. It seems to change a person drastically in mere moments and can even span episodes for days at a time. You never know how you will feel when you wake up in the morning. You never know what will happen to send you spiraling into a depressive episode. I often like to call it a “Jekyll and Hyde” effect in my personal blog.

I am Shelton Fisher and recently I have been given the privilege to be a contributing writer for The Bipolar Writer. I am a 25 year old with a full time job, an amazing wife, and the two best dogs in the world. I used to be a decent musician and writing has become a passion of mine. Amid the wonderful things that life has provided for me, I have mental health issues that fight me tooth and nail on a regular basis. Anxiety has been a familiar part of my life since I was a child, but alcoholism and panic attacks made me realize that I needed to finally address these problem medically. In September of last year I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and began a regimen of serotonin inhibitors and recently I have began seeing a therapist. After several sessions addressing my childhood behaviors and my current behaviors, we have discussed that I may be bipolar and the symptoms honestly surprised me.

As I continue the journey into my mental health to confirm a diagnosis and discover how to live a better life, I want to include you through personal stories, free verse poetry, and the occasional informative post. I am not a professional by any means, but I am living proof that mental health is a war to be won. If you have ever been afraid to speak, afraid to make a move, lost motivation and hope, hurt yourself because you couldn’t find the right words or felt trapped inside your body, screamed at the top of your lungs with tears rolling down your boiling red cheeks, self medicated with alcohol or drugs, fallen into depression for no apparent reason, or just want to know how I am handling things, my posts are for you.

White Fox’s Interview Feature

How do you know that you actually have mental illness? It is a question that many of us in the mental health community seek to answer. It is one that we often question. More often than not, it is those of us new to a diagnosis. Another difficult question to answer is this. Was there was ever a time before when your diagnosis where you had symptoms that you can look back at? 

It is these questions that White Fox, a young woman from Latvia, Northern, Europe, seeks to answer on a daily basis.

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“I guess, I never had a time before my mental illness. I am still questioning if it is the illness I am diagnosed with is real. I can’t draw the line when it all started,” White Fox laments.

What White Fox can remember was when her mental state first began to worsen. It was around the age of twenty-one when she first moved to live in another country. It was the first time that White Fox faced what the term “Polar Nights” meant.

“It was a combination of feeling homesick, depressed, and lonely.” She remembers. “I started to have mixed episodes. When I returned home, there was a period of feeling okay.”

It wasn’t long before these feelings came back in her life, and White fox began to self-harm. It was time for her to seek professional help. For a long period, her diagnosis was unipolar depression. After a hospitalization for a mixed episode, she finally got the right diagnosis from her doctors. White Fox’s official diagnosis is Bipolar One with mixed episodes. It was the first time that White Fox believes she got the right treatment.

When dealing with a mental illness within the daily struggles of everyday life she looks at it in this way.

“I don’t know what its like to not have one. The diagnosis makes it easier for other people to know what is going on with me. How to act when I am at my worst. I have always been myself. I feel like its only the outside world that is trying to convince me I am not right. I am ill because we can never be sure what is right”

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White Fox asked an interesting question in her interview. How do we know that the majority is right and normal? She looks at living with a diagnosis as another part of life. If we lived in a world with no eyes, “a human being that could see would be the disabled and not normal. For me, being Bipolar is my normal state of mind,” according to White Fox.

The philosophy that White Fox uses in her own life is simple and effective. In this moment she knows no other way to exist. She has never been another person. In the end, White Fox is true to who she is and not to her diagnosis.

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The daily struggles of being Bipolar doesn’t bother White Fox. She chooses to keep on living. She would rather do things in her life, and moving on. Her reasons? If she let being Bipolar run her life, White Fox would always find herself in a place she doesn’t like.

“I would be standing in a puddle feeling bad about being there. It would be as if there is no other way out of it than making a step or jump out. I would stay numb, there would be no chance to improve my situation.”

The area that being Bipolar affects White Fox’s life is in her personal relationships. She admits that when she is down she can be very cruel with her words. It affects those around her. To her people get tired of her drama.

In her life, it is the little things that make life worth living that oppose the negatives of a diagnosis. White Fox chooses to focus on the happiness of her daughter and the people she cares most about in this world.

“Life is short. I think how much I have to manage my daughter, give her everything, and make changes in the world. So that, when I die, I would have left a footprint, and my life would not be in vain.”

White Fox considers her blog as not a mental health blog exactly. It is more an LGBTQ blog that focuses on her own daily struggles and thoughts. White fox likes to read the blogs of others so that she feels less alone when she is seeking comfort in her own life. When her mind goes to the bad places that depression takes a person, and when she feels like she has to self-harm, she can read the stories of others to bring herself back to center.

At times its hard for White Fox to think logically, something we can all relate to in our own lives. White Fox has high expectations of herself. In her need for nothing less than excellence, it often leads to self-judging. This can lead to negative thoughts. These feelings often make her feel like a failure.

“I know that suicide doesn’t end suffering,” she explains. “It passes it to someone else. But at these moments, even trying my best, I can’t always find the right frame of mind. So, sometimes looking ar the writings of others with a similar state of mind can help my mind move back to logical thinking.”

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There is something each of us would like to share with the mental health community. White Fox reminds people to not focus so much on their illness, and to not let it become a label in their life.

“I noticed that people tend to concentrate on their illness so often that they forget about life. They start to limit themselves or use their illness as an excuse.”

White Fox wants the mental illness community to know that sometimes you need to take a break. It is important in her mind to go and do other things outside your diagnosis. It can’t be the most important thing in your life.

Writing the story of White Fox journey was a great pleasure. She allows me to show my readers a different side of Bipolar Disorder. How the right state of mind can be helpful in your mental health. It is important that we understand every story and see the wisdom of what each of us bring to the table. White Fox offers real wisdom to those that need it.

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There is one last thing that White Fox wanted to add to this piece, and it is better in her own words:

“I would like to touch a little bit to the topic called “postpartum depression” because I have had it as well. I know that young mother that is being judged terribly. And they are not lazy, spoiled and thinking only about themselves. They are actually doing their best and trying to be the best they can! It is so wrong that this judging starts from the hospital with this all breastfeeding hype. If something happens and this girl and she can not breastfeed because of having a history of sexual abuse in past. Or the milk is not there no matter how hard she tries, all she hears is how bad mother she is and how egotistical. How formula harms the health of newborn etc. Without even paying attention to the psychological theories that say that in the first year of life the most important thing for the baby is to feel comfortable, in harmony and safe. And when the mother is going through depression, she can not give it to him or her. And this is more important than nutrients and immunity that breastfeeding gives. Breastfeeding is good, but it shouldn’t be forced.”

“And this constant judging continues home, at the general practitioner, from friends, relatives etc.”

You can find White Fox on her blog, https://madhatterer.wordpress.com

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Interviewee: White Fox

Author: James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit: Some pictures from White Fox’s blog site. The rest from Unsplash.com

unsplash-logoJonatan Pie

unsplash-logoNikita Kachanovsky

unsplash-logoCaleb Frith

unsplash-logoJerry Kiesewetter

unsplash-logoHanny Naibaho