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mother with mental illness
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Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance

Those are the 5 stages of grief and the same five stages I went through to get to the place where I can say: I have bi-polar disorder.

This is what I know.

I have to be writing. Where that will take me, I’ve never known.

I started writing what I thought might be a book, but it’s been more of a confessional diary. My main goal? Write until I don’t want to kill myself anymore.

I’ve felt a lot of shame about a lot of things. Abandoning my business even though it took the one thing I had left (my words). Having a mental illness. Psychotic episodes. How “success” became an obsession. How every rejection letter or “no” made me sink further into self-hatred. The suicidal thoughts.

The shame I felt on top of it all only magnified an already unbearable disease. Because everything that worked before and I thought I knew was destroyed by my illness. My entire world I’d worked so hard to “heal” fell the fuck apart.

I was frozen in fear.
Paranoid.
Delusional.
And in complete denial.

This couldn’t be happening. I had to be strong. I had to be a role model. Be perfect. Keep my shit together. Practice what I preach.

I felt flawed.
Unlovable.
Broken.

I told myself I was done with “all this.” I had recovered. I didn’t have “it” anymore. But it never left. “It” was always there. And it wasn’t the normal sadness or excitement. It was bi-polar disorder. It wasn’t just being organized or articulate. It was reading a message at least 20 times before sending it. Fuck. I couldn’t deny it any longer.

No amount of positive thinking can “fix” a mind with mental illness. Believing it could brought me excruciating and unnecessary pain.

I became part of the problem. I bought into the stigma. I believed what I’d heard about people with depression.

That I wasn’t trying hard enough.
I needed to work out (which I did).
I needed to get outside (did that too).
Meditate (check).
Eat right (done).

But none of it worked.

Why? Because mental illness is a real fucking thing. It’s not a character flaw or a temporary emotion. It’s a disease. And yes it is in my head because it is my head. My messy brilliant beautiful chaotic fucked up head. And I’m not ashamed of it anymore.

mental illness becomes mental wellness
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[Day 21] Understanding Mental Illness

mental illness becomes mental wellness

It’s Day 21 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge. My topics to choose from are:

1) How does Invisible Illness affect your life and your business, whether it’s yours or someone in your family’s?

OR

2) How do you balance acknowledging Invisible Illness while still staying positive and not making your whole entire life about your disability?

As you know, I’ve been diagnosed with several mental illnesses. My chart would tell you I have:

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Bi-polar disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
  • ADD (attention deficit disorder)

So I very intimately understand what life is like with an invisible illness. Undoubtedly the lack of understanding is what led me to self-harm (how else could someone know how much I was suffering?), which is why I’ve dedicated my life and this site to helping teens and their families understand, cope and thrive with mental illness.

Through journaling and the other alternative practices shared on this site, I am positive that you too can learn to appreciate these “illnesses” and the people afflicted with them (even if it’s you).

In everything I do I emphasize that those experiencing mental health challenges (or any challenge for that matter) are not their problems, but the person experiencing the challenge.

These are people who are just a little more sensitive, whose minds work a little different, but most of all who really need our help and understanding.

To me, saying I have borderline personality disorder sets me free. Not so I can use it as an excuse, but as a reminder that I process things differently, I react more strongly and must be gentler with myself.

We must learn to love and accept all parts of ourselves – especially those most difficult to love.

That’s when the healing happens.
That’s when you understand what the situation has taught you.
That’s when you won’t need the “disease” anymore.

It’s a process. And we are all works in progress.

Here are some images I found from mollysfund.org, a site dedicated to breaking down the stigma of invisible illnesses such as lupus, digestive disorders, mental illness, etc.

They act as a reminder to be compassionate not just towards others, but to ourselves as well.

10-Things-NOT-TO-SAY-Invisible-ilness-revised-4.14-400x72dpi-web

10-Things-TO-SAY-Invisible-Illness-revised-400-72dpio-web

You might also enjoy a very similar post I made here.

What are your thoughts on this? How has invisible illness affected you or someone you love? Leave me a comment below.

Also: For those who love journaling, sign up for my friend’s 30 Day Digital Journaling Challenge here.