February 25th 2013, I laid next to my son’s bed and prayed God would please help me. I then awoke in the ER and remained hospitalized for over 6 weeks. There I was diagnosed Bipolar 1.
What lead up to the hospitalization was a series of events, I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Undiagnosed depression and self-medicating with prescription pain pills over the months had left me feeling drained and worn out. About 6 months prior I had had a serious wakeboarding accident and shattered my leg. It had required immediate surgeries and hospital stay. Similar to my manic episode that left me hospitalized unexpectedly.
I didn’t think twice about sharing about my broken leg. Sharing and showing my wound had brought such support and strength during a difficult recovery. With my recent diagnosis, there were no wounds or scars though. With mental illness you’re left with only your imagination, assumptions and whatever stories you’ve heard.
I’m humbly sharing this in hopes of reducing the stigma and silence that surrounds mental illness. Speaking out doesn’t have to be scary, it can actually be very empowering, if we choose it. We all have a terminal illness, one of my college professors told our class that and it has always stuck with me. We are all in this together in some way or another. If we speak out, then together we can learn about this non curable, yet very treatable disease. With proper management and most importantly forever taking our medications, we are free to live full and productive lives, just as God has intended.
By managing my illness, I can continue to live a beautiful life as wife, mom, friend, small business owner and college. Sure, I’ll still make mistakes, may even cry in public and continue to be completely horrible at Zumba. My Type A personality accentuated with a dose of a go getter attitude isn’t going anywhere. My personality does not make me BP. Mental illness can’t be diagnosed by appearance alone. When is the last time you told someone with cancer, you knew it was coming?? Mental illness is a chemical imbalance of the brain that’s tested through blood work.
I’m NOT sharing my story as a victim or for cookies to arrive at my front door (although, with this medication, I would eat them all. That’s another story). I understand that each one of us is dealt with difficult hardships. That’s life. I am sharing this to raise awareness. To know that with proper management we can get through this. Outloud, proud and together.