This past summer I was on a high. I had read a motivational book, which I was absolutely convinced had cured me of my depression. I went from being a brunette to a very platinum blonde. While in this momentum (that I would soon learn was known as hypomania,) I hired a blog designer. I created a banner for my new blog all by myself by following step by step instructions found on YouTube. I had yet to decide upon my niche, but I suspected that mental illness would be my primary focus.
I also signed up to my local hot yoga studio; proclaimed myself a yogi; and purchased all new outfits to wear while I down-dogged. Then, to fill in the minutes when I was not working, wearing cute yoga gear, and familiarizing myself with the workings of my new blog, I took on remodelling the main floor of my house.
Shortly after establishing the above mentioned activities, I was diagnosed with bipolar II, and treatment began. One of the side effects of stabilizing my moods, however, was that the hypomania which had been fuelling my cockamamie ideas my entire life, was now subdued into a pleasant lethargy. My pink yoga mat was used once. My living room had only one painted wall for several months. And my shiny new blog, the one I was going to use to journal my mental illness, and perhaps connect with even one person who was also experiencing the same pleasant yet unfamiliar lethargy, was left without words, sentences, or any voice whatsoever.
My grand ideas of blogging late into the night; catching up on the activities I had missed out on in the blogging community during these past four years that I've been pursuing other activities, and/or begging for a reprieve from the soul crushing pain of my depression; everything sort of came to a standstill. Instead of spending my free time with my laptop creating content for my blog, or perusing the web to learn more about mood disorders and mental illness, or searching out other mental health bloggers to network with -- instead of changing the world and breaking down the stigma of mental illness one blog post at a time (as my Twitter bio states), I hung out on my couch watching every television program that had CIA characters sniffing out conspiracy theories.
Although this reprieve from my depression which had me side-lying in the groove my body has created in my mattress, or the alternative which had me up all night, googling "best trainers in North America" to aid in my body building come-back thanks to the hypomania which shot my thoughts from one realm of commitment to the next, neither of which I would ever commit to, laying supine on my couch rooting for Raymond Reddington just didn't feel like me.
For over 35 years, when my depression would have me upright long enough to switch gears, I've been buzzing from one potential achievement to the other. I use the word "achievement" loosely because most times my mind would have raced on to another plot line with the vision of an entirely different ending. Of course havoc is reeked as I stumble over obvious obstacles, such as lack of funds; lack of time; lack of knowledge. As debt incurs, as relationships crumble, as insurmountable problems prevent me from ever completing what I've started (because you can't own a cake baking business if you don't even have a proper kitchen in which to bake said cakes if the food inspectors explain to you over and over again that, "No, you can't bake your cakes in your own kitchen even if your cats aren't allowed on the counter tops,") -- as reality sets in that your life is not going at all in the direction you keep trying to force it into, it's easier to crawl back under a rock... I mean pillow.
Of course the inevitable failures send me careening downwards; the jubilant façade I portray while I chase yet another dream explode into torrents of tears; the self-esteem I displayed days before as I decorated a three tier birthday cake for a friend's little girl, the same friend who had suggested, "You should start your own business," -- that self-esteem has morphed into self-loathing.
And yet, despite this realization, now that I've experienced stability in mild doses as my medication is regularly tweaked to find the right balance, I question myself often. Is my thought to return to school to get my Masters something I really want? Or is it residual hypomania egging me on? I still wake at night and watch as the thoughts battle each other for my undivided attention. Am I sitting on my laptop at 3am composing a blog post which has for its purpose to help chip away at the stigma associated with having a mental illness because I truly want to be a voice?
Or is it because hypomania has currently grabbed hold of that thought and highlighted it in neon lights... until I forget to pay the hydro bill?
Clearly I don't know who I am anymore. The chick who lounges on the couch watching crime shows is foreign to me, and yet, the one who cries for months and months, then stands up long enough to Google, "When is the next Mental Health First Aid Class?" -- that one is familiar, but she's unreliable, even more so now that she's stable-ish.
Somehow CIS Chick and Mental Health Advocate Lady must learn to coexist in peace and harmony. Or one of them is going to kick the shit out of the other.
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Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones publicly disclosed her diagnosis after seeking treatment. Though she wasn't initially going to come public (on an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," husband Michael Douglas said he suspects someone at the hospital leaked information to the press), Zeta-Jones has nonetheless voiced her support for those who also suffer from bipolar disorder. In an interview with People, Zeta-Jones said there is "no need to suffer silently," and that if her speaking up encourages just one person to seek help of their own, then her experience was worth it.
The Mayo Clinic released a statement in August of 2012 that the congressman and son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson was receiving treatment for bipolar II depression, after taking an unexplained medical leave two months earlier. His wife had previously called his depression "debilitating", the AP reported.
After spending three months in a rehab facility for bulimia, anorexia, cutting and depression, Lovato also announced she'd been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Lovato told People magazine she didn't know she had the disorder until she entered treatment. Lovato told AOL Music she plans to continue speaking out about her experience to help others. "I feel like it's no coincidence that God put me through all of this and has also given me the voice that I have. I feel like my purpose on earth is much greater than just being a singer, a musician or actress. I think it's to reach out to people and to raise awareness of these issues that not many people speak about."
The action star told E! Online he was being treated for bipolar disorder with the drug sodium valproate, Everyday Health reported. "Since I'm doing that it's, like, BOOM! In one week, I felt it kick in. All the commotion around me, all the water around me, moving left and right around me, became like a lake," he said.
The reality TV star has experienced a number of high-profile ups and downs on camera. She told People magazine that she takes medication for bipolar disorder after being diagnosed in 2008. "I don't think I'm bipolar, to be honest with you," she said at the time. "I'm just really outgoing. I think everybody thinks they're bipolar these days. You're a teenager, you have hormones. You're gonna switch up every two seconds!" But she spoke more vulnerably about her diagnosis later with E! News, saying "I struggle with it. I hate it. I grieve over it" of her diagnosis.
In 2007, Grammy-winning artist Sinead O'Connor appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to talk about her battle with bipolar disorder. She said receiving treatment for the disorder made her reborn and gave her at chance at building a new life.
After canceling a number of the band's tour dates last summer, Passion Pit's lead singer told Rolling Stone he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 18 and was experiencing a particularly debilitating bout of depression when the band was set to tour. "My depression was so bad three weeks ago when we had to cancel everything -- people don't understand this. People don't understand that it's not just debilitating; it's all-encompassing," he told Rolling Stone.
Fisher first publicly discussed her experience with bipolar disorder with Diane Sawyer in 2000, telling Sawyer she was convinced for many years she was a drug addict before finding out she was manic depressive. Fisher has since been very open about her struggle with the disorder, including the time she spent in a mental hospital following a particularly difficult episode. "At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring lots of stamina and even more courage," Fisher wrote in her 2008 memoir "Wishful Drinking." "So if you're living with this illness and functioning at all, it's something to be proud of, not ashamed of."
The Academy Award-winning actress was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 35 years old. In an interview with "Everyday Health," Duke said the diagnosis came as a relief, because it meant she wasn't the only person in the world feeling the way she did. In her memoir "A Brilliant Madness: Living With Manic-Depressive Illness", Duke says she knew from a young age there was something wrong with her, "but I thought it was just that I was not a good person, that I didn't try hard enough." Duke has been an advocate for bipolar disorder awareness for years. She's spoken out about her experience on numerous occasions, including on "20/20," "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and during a 1997 interview with Barbara Walters on "The View." Duke told Walters she considered herself lucky to have had "access to the media, to write a book and talk about" her experience. Duke continues to speak out; in 2005, she was asked to testify before Congress on mental health-related issues.
The former "Dateline" NBC host discussed her bipolar disorder diagnosis in a 2004 interview with Matt Lauer. After struggling with minor depression for several months and not getting better, Pauley said she was shocked when the doctor explained she was actually suffering from bipolar disorder. In her 2004 memoir "Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue," Pauley writes she doesn't know if or when she'll have another bipolar episode, but that she's now adapted and learned to be more aware of her moods and how she's feeling. "The world has not become spontaneously organized to make accommodations for my weaknesses while nurturing my newly discovered strengths," Pauley wrote.
The star of "Terminator" told Larry King in 2005 that the bigger her life and career grew, the worse her mental health and bipolar disorder became. And because she suffered from depression while growing up, Hamilton said she now has a very open dialogue with her children and reminds them it's okay to speak up about their feelings. In a 2006 interview for "Sidewalks," Hamilton described the mood swings she often suffered before being diagnosed and receiving proper care for the condition. "I like to speak out to let people know that they're not alone," Hamilton said.
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