Mental Illness is not a choice, but recovery is.
My raw and vulnerable insight into mental health struggles and receiving a bipolar diagnosis.
I started this blog as a way to cope with my bipolar illness diagnosis I received July 2022 and also to try and provide comfort to anyone else dealing with mental illness.
It's more of a journey blog as I’m still very new to learning and adapting to bipolar illness. No desire to be labeled a “blogger” or “influencer” unless that means influencing ppl to not want to be an influencer. Mostly kidding- authentic influencers are my jam.
Holistic Influencer Trap
For those holistic influencers that preach against medication just shut up. If you haven’t been diagnosed with a mental illness it’s wrong to encourage these theories.
Can you heal yourself? Sure, with living off grid, growing your own food, addressing current and past life trauma, having a community of support in motherhood, praying… yea maybe you can heal yourself. But what happens if you don’t live off grid, gardening your own food doesn’t provide enough for your family, community of support is hard to find with everyone working/kids and you're unsure what is even considered trauma you could have from past life and current life: it’s not as easy as these influencers make it seem.
Medication can help level you to start working on yourself. Praying helps make you not feel so alone with God/Universe by your side. So again- if you’ve never been paralyzed in bed due to your brain- shut the F up.
I was diagnosed with bipolar illness in July 2022, but my doctors have been trying to tell me to seek treatment since January 2022. The illness progressed after childbirth and a toxic workplace but I’m pretty certain I’ve had it my whole life. Looking back, it's what has made me successful and well liked, due to my overconfidence and hyper creativity while in hypomania. Although, I'm sure I was labeled a narcissist by some given hypomania tends to display the same characteristics. Hypomania is mild in compared to mania. The first six months of a plausible but deniable to me diagnosis I was spiritually bypassing my illness. I was convinced I was just extra gifted, highly conscious and connected to God/Universe, going through a spiritual awakening, and that bipolar was not real and something that could be naturally healed.
I still think those options play a part in the illness- as Sean Blackwell’s book title states “Am I bipolar or Waking up?” Maybe bipolar is just the medical term. Whatever it is- it's serious, it’s scary and it’s real. My first highly manic episode hit January 2022, two months after taking Zoloft (SSRI). When in that state no one could tell me I was sick. I was euphoric, I was bulletproof and ambitious AF.
Hi, holistic influencer- have you ever experienced a manic episode that almost ruined your life? If the answer is no- again shut the F up.
After diagnosis and beginning medication the reality of my situation and dealing with this for life hit HARD. I found myself paralyzed in bed as the depression came on strong while coming down from the mania. It’s hard to explain just how low that feeling gets. The best way to describe it is feeling like my legs were broken except it wasn’t my legs, it was my brain.
The pain of being shamed and stigmatized by others in the thick of healing cut deep. I guess that's my karma for being a mean girl in school. (post on karma to come)
“Just stay positive and get to the root.” (insert eyeroll)
That manic episode that started January 2022 turns out wasn’t my first, (just my first extremely severe one). Looking back my first recognizable episode started February 2020, 4 months after my second child was born when returning to work with no support. I resigned from my career due to my mental health declining and pandemic motherhood discrimination is real (another post on that to come). I knew something was off, but I hardly knew anything about bipolar at that time. My doctor doubled my anti-depressants as I struggled to find myself without my career. And her not knowing my family history because well I didn’t either, that increased dosage spiraled me into a serious, humiliating HYPER mania that is still painful to look back on. It's true what they say, rock bottom will teach you things mountain tops never will.
The death of my grandma at 40 years old happened before I was born. My dad was in high school when bipolar illness took her life. The painful memories of that time were never discussed to my dad and his memory blocked everything out, for good reason as the pain cut to the bones. All he remembered was seeing her on TV being rolled out on a stretcher, no other recollection at all.
I remember asking my dad about my grandma once and I saw him cry for the first time in my life. I never asked again until January 2022 when I could feel myself losing my mind. My grandpa was ashamed and buried it. Anytime my dad asked, he deflected. In my grandpas defense it was still such a taboo and he thought it was just depression as bipolar was then called manic depression and not as widely known.
Bipolar tends to lean towards the depression side for women and manic side for men. Turns out family history is 10000% extremely important. 80% of bipolar disorder/manic depression is biological. Whether that’s truly because of a chemical imbalance or a generational spiritual curse or uncontrolled energy balancing trauma from current and past life- I’ll never know.
All I know is that this illness/curse is real, and I cannot manage it without medication + lifestyle change. 40% who have it have a shorter life expectancy due to suicide. No big deal but try swallowing that statistic pill while newly diagnosed and unmedicated.
What have I done that I’ve come to regret during mania?
I racked up credit card debt, I bought a pink vespa only to ride it once and wreck it, I got convinced to be involved in a business that hindsight made zero business sense to be involved in, I resigned from my $250k+ career with nothing lined up, I almost developed an app, I’ve ruined several friendships, burned bridges and I got fired from a new job that I started after taking a year break thinking I was “fixed” because of Zoloft. When in reality turns out taking Zoloft (SSRI) triggers HYPER mania in bipolar illness and is usually how it is diagnosed.
Hi it’s me- that’s how I was diagnosed. This accuracy is one of the reasons why I believe something is going on up there in certain ppl- whether there’s a label to it or not. One fact remains, not everyone goes into a mania spiral with anti-depressants (SSRI).
What goes up must come down...
What have I done that I’ve come to regret during depression?
I gained 20 pounds in 6 months, I was THC high most days which at the time was truly the only thing that got me out of depression to function, I cut six inches off my hair, I blamed my dad for not pushing for answers of what happened to his mom sooner, I blamed my mentor for not helping me while experiencing workplace trauma, I pushed away my cousins, my sister, and I snapped at my kids more times than I would like to admit. While spending many nights praying god would take me in my sleep.
I know what you're thinking...
How could you feel that way with two beautiful kids at home, a supportive husband, family, and friends or maybe these are just the thoughts that also crossed my mind. Sitting in bed high was better than sitting in bed crying. Guilt and shame constantly swallowed me whole. But when in that state, I truly believed my kids deserved a better mom. Without medication +lifestyle change I have little control over my mind and its thoughts. (more to come on lifestyle changes + vitamins I've incorporated). Ever felt like your mind was a race car? Not the most fun situation.
My husband has been my rock. The thoughts of worthlessness were for the first time in my life stronger than me and for those first several weeks I wasn’t sure if I would beat it. Flooding thoughts of him deserving a better wife and again better off without me. There were many days that he was doing the kids drop off/pick up, working to support us, making dinner and putting them to bed when I was in the deep end. By far the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. Frankly, this brain disease still scares me, but I keep fighting. Your brain can play tricks on you and its honestly really f-ing rude. I won't pretend this hasn't been hard on our marriage, but we continue to push through to support each other in sickness and in health.
I told my close friends and family given I had just turned 35 and my grandma was taken by the illness at 40 my anxiety went into high gear. I was terrified, I knew I needed support if I was going to beat this statistic. Which honestly, it’s a daily work in progress. I could feel the fear in my family and friends when I told them just how severe the depression had got. Not fear as in judgment, fear as if they didn’t want to lose me. They were scared too. My close friends and family contacted me often to check in on me, to let me know they cared, and we would get through this together.
Thankfully, my parents live near, and my mom would come stay with us to help with the kids, cleaning and cooking while I tried to climb myself out of the hole. Honestly, it may not be the last time she comes, only time will tell. It was like I was in a hole in the ground and would keep trying to climb out but the light to the sky was so so small and I would climb rocks up, get so close then fall back. I mean, who wouldn't feel hopeless in that situation.
After feeling the support and worry from family and friends, I woke up one day and decided I’m stronger than this illness/curse and became determined to beat it. Everyone was praying for me, and I guess the prayers finally worked. I went cold turkey and quit smoking THC, I quit alcohol (which to be honest I hardly drank- it was the THC that was my vice), and I switched coffee for lemon water. All of those things made my illness worse. I also decided to eliminate diary and gluten as much as possible.
This is definitely a work in progress. I know I will still have sad days and hypomanic days; they just won't be as severe as in the beginning with the help of medication + lifestyle change. I sometimes still struggle to get out of bed during that time of the month but I’m working on leveling out my hormones and improving insulin resistance by lifting weights and healthy diet.
More to come on breaking stigmas...
Infertility and loss, motherhood penalty, mental illness, lifestyle changes, ALL THE THINGS.
For one this blog keeps me accountable, it's fulfilling and something else to do while being a stay-at-home mom (for now) while the kids are in school. I do hope to have a career again one day, given its recommended to work with bipolar illness. However, for now I am focusing on my health while trying to help others.
Secondly, if any of this helps even one person then that in itself brings me happiness.
I’m only two months into diagnosis/medication and still learning how to manage and adapt to this chronic illness/curse that I have for life. However, I am determined to be the best version of myself. I figured I would share my journey to channel, break stigmas and help others to not feel alone.