My Journey to Recovery
It's me again. Writing today because I feel compelled to share with you about my 7 year recovery anniversary. There is more to it than I have previously mentioned. I will say this: I do feel good about it and am certainly proud of myself.
I don't think it would be fair to celebrate, without looking at the struggle and the pain of being bipolar. I'm not big on control and, when I've been manic, I was so out of control that I thought the only way to stay in control for a long time was to dedicate myself to whatever job I was doing at the time. The hours I worked were long and I tended to do this to keep up with the speed of my mind. Yes, I had some days when I felt on top of the world, but for the most part I was irritable. I'm not sure if you can understand how hard it is to see yourself being out of control, doing things you don't like. And as hard as you try, you can't stop yourself. This has to be the most excruciating, painful thing to go through. I've never felt so scared in my life!
Then there is the opposite side of the coin: Depression. Now I realize that I was a functioning depressive for a long time. I would go to work and see friends, but they had no clue that my apartment was a disgusting mess and I wasn't keeping up my personal hygiene. I didn't do much else but watch movies. It was all self contained misery. With my last depression, I was married and our business had failed. I was home all the time. Jess would go to work with me on the couch. The only things I could do were grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, walking the the dog and going to therapy. Everything was so dark and heavy!! I just wanted the pain that encompassed my whole body to go away. This is another out of control experience, but the opposite side of the spectrum. You can't just wake up and not be depressed! Just doesn't work this way.
The internal fight, when the mania and depression are in full force, is so incredibly exhausting. It also makes you feel like the biggest fuckup ever! So, you can see how the stigma that others place on mental illness is detrimental to someone who has it.
Now, here we have someone who hasn't had these episodes for 7 years. Wow! She cured, right?! Not!
When I was coming out of my last depression, I went to NAMI(National Alliance of Mental Health) and took a Peer to Peer course. It was a turning point for me. For the first time, I accepted that I have a mental illness and I could manage it in a way that fit my life.
I want you to know it took me 7 years to get my meds right. I take 2 meds now with low dosages. My body is very sensitive to medications. The side effects are debilitating.
Every day is still a fight and this is hard to explain. Bipolar Disorder isn't just about being manic or depressive. It comes with anxiety and cognitive issues. There are just some days that I just don't function as well. It doesn't mean I am manic or depressed. I can't focus or I am just emotionally tired.
Yes, I manage my life so the dark doom of depression doesn't take over or my Mania doesn't wreck havoc on my body. My fight is now is to keep it all at bay for as long as I can.
Before I end I want to thank my beautiful husband Jesse for being my co pilot in this journey! The great Missy Barshay for keeping me going and believing in my power! Dr. Lucy for listening and believing in me! Christina Burns for making my dream come true and laughing with me! My friend Dave for keeping me present to my humanity! A true gift: my friend Lady Charmaine Day! AND my daughter Myah for her love and endless passion for life!
I wish I could call my Mom today, but I can't. She was the first person I told that I was bipolar. Her reaction was filled with love and the acceptance that I had illness. Her trust in me to figure it all out is what keeps me going. If her response had been different, than I might not be here writing like this to you. Love you my Angel Mommy!
Most importantly, I thank God! Sometimes I am angry that he put this illness on my journey, but you know, I wouldn't be me without it! The love that comes to me from God every day is why I know I will be okay no matter what.
I want those with mental illness and those without mental illness to know that I am grateful for these last 7 years, but it's been at times a really hard journey. I only hope that I continue learning and growing from all of this. Fighting stigma is in my next chapter for sure.
Love and Peace to You All!