Monday, September 27, 2021

Running Wild(Manic)


Mania. Most people don’t understand it. The definition of mania is mental illness marked by periods of great excitement or euphoria, delusions, and overactivity. Common in people with bipolar disorder. But what does it look like to people on the outside? 

Most people probably won’t notice a case of hypomania, which is just a mild form of mania. But the problem is when people do notice something off, they ignore it. This leads to a greater problem. 

Most people in a manic episode don’t realize they are in a manic episode. You see, unlike what TV and movies portray, mania doesn’t just consist of staying up all night and cleaning. No, during a manic episode for me I obsess over different things. I don’t even know anything is wrong at first.

See, for me, it starts subtle. I have more energy. I sleep less, go out more, have that extra drink at dinner. Slowly, the euphoria takes over, I feel on top of the world. Nothing can hurt me. I take risks that I shouldn’t. I start drinking more. Spending money that I shouldn’t. Then the delusions start.

This is where my family starts to notice. I become paranoid, thinking people are out to get me. My mom tries to talk sense into me. I tell her nothing is wrong. In my mind it just confirms, everyone is out to get me. I get into trouble at work. I become quick tempered. I snap. I keep spending money I don’t have. Start hobbies I won’t see through. Get into unhealthy relationships. All the time pushing people away, thinking they are out to get me. 

This last time, my mania led to hallucinations. I thought a “shadow man” was out to get me. My journals are full of entries about him haunting me. I was scared, desperate. I finally reached out. With the help of my support system I received help. I started taking my medicine again. Slowly and with help of my support system I came down. 

Rebuilding what I wrecked is the hardest part of mania. When I start coming down, I realize the devastation my life is in. The shambles that I have to fix. This is what happens after mania for me, I slowly sink into depression. 

Mania is not like this for everyone. This does not mean I’m “crazy.” I have my struggles, but we all have our struggles. I denied and hid my mental illness for so long. Never admitting to it for fear of judgement. I have now realized that owning my mental illness, admitting I have struggles, can help someone realize they aren’t alone. That you don’t have to fear the stigma. 

My goal is to be a voice to help end the stigma of mental health. Even if that means making people uncomfortable by being so honest and open. Admitting you need help is the first step. And hopefully ending the judgement and having more resources available will be the last.

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Ugly Side of Depression

  Depression. We have all heard of it. Many have experienced it. So why isn’t depression talked about more? Depression is a constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. For me personally, depression is constantly there. Lurking in the background. Waiting for a weak moment to pounce and set in.

My depression hits hard and cuts deep. I don’t know when it will come creeping up on me. I quickly lose myself and feel lost. I push people away and then I suffer alone. I lose myself to the darkness. And before I know it I’m lost. Feeling like a burden, pushing people away. I stop taking care of myself. I’m exhausted, all I want to do is sleep.

I manage to drag myself to work, but don’t remember what I did or who I talked to. I completely shut down, trapped in the darkness. Mountains of trash start to surround me because I just don’t have the strength to take it out. I stop responding to calls and texts. I am completely alone, and then the intrusive thoughts start coming. Bouncing around my mind, always there, never leaving.

The suicidal thoughts slowly creep in and take their hold on me, digging their hooks in deep. Never leaving, always there. I start believing them, the thoughts of I’m worthless. I’m a failure. No one cares about me. Everyone would be happy if I was gone. I’m a burden, that just takes up space.

This is what my depression feels like to me, but that does not mean people can’t or don’t have it worse than me. I’m sharing how depression is for me. How I feel when I am on the ugly side of bipolar.  

Depression is a silent killer. It slowly sinks its hooks in and takes hold of you. Before you know it you are slowly suffocating. Sinking into a deep, dark abyss. You fake a smile, because as the saying goes, “Fake it until you make it.” But in reality, you should be reaching out for help.

Please don’t be ashamed to reach out and admit you need help. In my eyes reaching out, admitting you need help, is the biggest sign of strength you can have. You are incredibly brave for admitting you are having a hard time and need a little help. And there is nothing wrong with that. So reach out to your mother, father, friend, brother, sister, or even your doctor. Show your strength and get the help you need. Don’t let depression become your silent killer.

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Stigma

  Have you ever tried opening up to someone only to be told it’s not that bad, that you are being dramatic? Have you ever been told that you are overreacting? Have you ever been dismissed when trying to be honest about your feelings? Have you ever been told to just get over it, or that your depression isn’t real? Have you ever been called crazy for stating how you feel or what you are experiencing?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have been a victim to the stigma of mental health. The stigma of mental health is very much real and alive today. We need people to realize that mental health and mental illness are just as real as infections and viruses. Just because they can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not someone else's reality. 

This also goes for caretakers, support persons. They face the stigma just as much as we do. Which can lead to a strain on their own mental health. Constantly defending someone and themselves. Society can be cruel and unforgiving.

We need more voices to fight this fight. We need to be heard. Just because people think it’s “in our head” doesn’t mean we can’t stand up for ourselves. Make people uncomfortable. Eventually people will listen. The more we voice what’s going on within ourselves, the more we get our voices out there, the more likely people will start to listen.

People can’t understand what we are going through if we don’t openly talk about our struggles. Books and research can only explain so much. TV shows and movies only show the worst of the worst. Only we can truly explain what we go through on a daily basis. Only we can help others understand how it’s not just in our heads.

MY hope is that I at least reach one person. Whether it be someone knowing that they aren’t alone or helping someone understand just a little bit more what their family member or friend is going through. MY dream is to have my voice help end the stigma of mental health. MY goal is to help people, including myself. No one should be scared to admit they need help.

If you feel you are in crisis, reach out to a family member or friend. If you are too embarrassed, reach out to your doctor. Also try the Crisis Text Line, just text HOME to 741741. You can also reach out to me on here, or the Facebook page Escaping the Stigma.

If you feel suicidal, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or the Lifeline Chat at

Monday, September 13, 2021

Lithium, Seroquel, and My Quest for Stability


The price of stability for me is filled with daily medicine, therapy, weight gain, doctor appointments, blood draws, hair loss, and more. And being stable doesn’t mean I don’t still have manic and depressive episodes, just means they are less often and less severe. But I wouldn’t  change it for the world.

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder I was placed on Lithium. Lithium is a mood stabilizer. For me, Lithium was a savior for a while by itself but only for a little while. I still struggled with depression and found myself trying different medicine to go with the Lithium to help. Also with Lithium I found myself getting blood draws every few months.

I finally found a combo that worked, for a while. I let the denial get the better of me, convinced myself I was fine and didn’t need medicine after all. With Covid happening shortly after I quit my medicine cold turkey.

I went on a downward spiral. And when I say I crashed I crashed. I had a manic episode. That lasted for months. I blew through thousands of dollars. And I started drinking more often. Many many sleepless nights. Untold amounts of paranoia. I thought everyone was out to get me. I would make up scenarios in my head and then think they were real. I was quick tempered. I eventually started coming down and realized maybe I needed help. I finally was starting to accept being labeled Bipolar. 

Back to the doctor I went. And was put back on the Lithium. Then I started the dance of finding what worked for me medicine wise. I remember trying countless cocktails. Then I had a depressive episode. One where I started shutting everyone out. I isolated myself, the paranoia came back. I felt like a burden to my family. A horrible mom to my kids. I was lucky this time, I had a moment of clarity and asked for help.

After my days inpatient the cocktails trails continued. Until I tried Seroquel. I finally found my Cocktail. Lithium, Seroquel, and an antidepressant. After months of trying, I found something that finally gave me stability. Now the ups and downs are manageable. 

My stability has given me my life back. I am compliant with my medicine. I feel like I’m a better mother. A better daughter. A better friend. Yes I do still have ups and downs, but they aren’t as severe and I have become more open and accepting of help. I go to therapy regularly. I see my doctor every three months. I go to my blood draws and I ask for help if I need it. I can honestly say without my support system, the therapy, and medicine, I would not be here today. I have found a cocktail that works for me. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Do not think it is a sign of weakness. Asking for help is a sign of your courage! You are not alone, whether it be depression, anxiety, bipolar, or many more. Mental health is a disease, just like strep throat or the flu. Don’t be afraid to find your stability, whether that includes medicine, therapy, or a good support system. No one should be ashamed for admitting they need a little help to get there.

Friday, September 10, 2021

In Honor of Suicide Prevention Day

For this post, let’s talk about suicide. Just suicide. Not how we felt after someone we know committed suicide. No, let’s get close and personal about what leads people to attempting and taking their own life.

For me, and I feel like people can relate to this, when I get low, I get low. I lose all sense  of hope. I feel alone, like a burden. I feel like a failure. A bad mother, daughter, friend, worker. I shut down and belittle myself. Which makes me feel even worse. I call myself stupid, fat, ugly, a failure. I tell myself no one wants to talk to me, that I’m a burden, my family would be better off without me.

After years of battling the ups and downs, I now have a great support system in place. But not everyone does. Which means these thoughts stay in your head until you actually believe them to be true. For me, this is what lead to my suicide attempt. I felt like no one understood me. I now know that I am not alone. 

Did you know suicide is a leading cause of death in the US? So what are we doing wrong in helping people in crisis? Are we not listening? Are we ignoring signs? How can we be better? 

Suicide can affect us all, it doesn’t care about your gender, age, or race. Some risk factors include mental health disorders, chronic pain, substance use, family history of suicide, and many more. But risk factors don’t always mean someone will commit suicide.

So let’s talk about warning signs. A few warning signs include: expressing the want to die, feeling empty or hopeless, unbearable emotional or physical pain, putting affairs in order, withdrawing from family and friends. Serious warning signs include: extreme mood swings, making a plan, acting anxious or agitated. If you know someone displaying these signs, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask if they are ok or need help. 

The best we can do for someone we know who is suicidal is be there for them. Show them someone cares. Someone loves them. Someone will miss them. Don’t be afraid to be upfront and ask if they are suicidal, honestly it will probably be a relief to them that someone noticed. That someone cares about them. Let them know that you love them and they would be missed, that you are there for them, whatever they need.

You should also be prepared for the possible lashing out when suggesting someone needs help. For me, I lashed out, yelled at my mom, and said I was fine. I refused help initially. I denied having a problem and shut myself down more. What I had in my corner was someone advocating for me. So even if they lash out at you, don’t be afraid to stand your ground, continue to be there for them. Show them you care.

Suicide is literally killing our society, it affects all ages, genders, and races. It does not care how much you pretend to be ok. This is why we need society to step up and recognize that mental health is a problem. We need, as a whole, to talk about our problems, recognize a crisis. Speak out and end the stigma, help each other not be afraid of not being ok. Together we can make a difference. An escape.

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive

Let’s get down and dirty on how my mental illness has affected my life. The highs and lows. The stupid choices I have made, and how they have altered my life. The good choices I have made and the difference I am now trying to make.

Now, reading about and experiencing bipolar is totally different. Unless you are bipolar, or close with someone who has it, it is hard to understand. While I do think people try and understand, I also think that it’s hard to truly have compassion and understanding without truly understanding. 

Bipolar, also known as manic depressive disorder, is defined as a disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows and manic highs. Now that sounds simple enough right? But what if all the examples you have are from TV shows and movies? You know, the ones that only show the worst of the worst cases. Now what do most people associate bipolar with?

See, you only hear about mental health when it is the worst case scenario. You don’t hear about the bipolar mom, nurse, grocery store clerk, I could go on and on. This is because we don’t talk about mental health, this can apply to multiple mental health disorders. So I ask again, how is it 2021 and mental health is still taboo? 

For me a manic episode involves not sleeping, paranoia, racing thoughts. Unlike what movies or TV commercials show, I don’t stay up all night cleaning. No, I stay up pacing, driving around, spending copious amounts of money. I start feeling like people are out to get me. From family to coworkers. I’m fidgety, anxious, and paranoid. I start imagining things and believe they are real. Just this last time I was manic, I decided to start a new hobby of candle making. I don’t even use candles, I use a diffuser. The kit currently sits unopened in my closet still.

Now for a depressive episode. For me the depression hits harder than my manic episodes. When I fall down the rabbit hole I don’t just crash, I crash and burn. I can’t physically get out of bed. And when I do drag myself out I usually only make it to my couch. I don’t shower, I don’t clean, I stop taking care of myself entirely. I go through the motions to make it from day to day. I isolate myself from people that truly care and love me. I feel like a burden. I feel alone, not because I am, but because I push people away.

 I’m gonna be honest, I wouldn’t be here today without my support system. And I honestly don’t deserve them. My mom is and always will be my number one supporter, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have said some awful things to her while manic and ignored her and pushed her away while depressed. My dad is another huge supporter of me and even though sometimes he doesn’t understand he tries, no matter how many times I have pushed him away. Friends are still here for me, despite me disappearing for months. 

The key for me is medicine, therapy, and my support system. Most of the time my support system notices if I’m slipping before I do. Without them I would really be struggling. They have helped me in some rough situations.

 But we also need to be more open about mental health. Less criticism of people realizing they need help and reaching out. We need to be there for one another. Listen to each other. Mental illness is still an illness, it doesn't matter if you can’t see it. It is very real to us who suffer. Mental illness isn’t black and white, and we as a society need to start looking at it with open eyes. How else will we make a change?

Thursday, September 2, 2021

A Crippling Monster: Anxiety

 When I was young, I went from a carefree child to a child that always assumed the worst case scenario. This curse has since followed me into adulthood, but significantly worse. From daily anxiety to severe panic attacks that make you feel like you can’t breathe. 

Anxiety is the intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, excessive sweating, overly fatigued, and a sense of impending doom. Millions of people suffer with some form of anxiety daily. But it affects everyone differently.

For me anxiety feels like a monster trying to suffocate me from the inside out. My mind starts racing, my chest gets tight, my throat starts to close. This is the start of an anxiety attack for me. What caused it could be anything, from forgotten laundry to work stress to motherhood. 

Ever receive a phone call from and immediately assume its bad news? This is a daily battle for me. Feeling alone in a crowd, lost, hopeless, with this monster consuming me from the inside. Constantly worried that I’m not doing enough as a mother, or that I’m helicoptering them. That I am failing at my job. That I am failing at my relationships with friends, family. That I am alone. And then the panic sets in.

For me, when I have a panic or anxiety attack I try different things to ground myself. My favorite technique is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. 5 things I can see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell, 1 thing I can taste. And if that doesn’t make the monster crawl back to his cave, I use my last resort: anxiety medicine.

Everyone’s monster is different, which means everyone’s battle with anxiety is different. What works for me might not work with you. Other techniques that help with anxiety include: putting your hands in water, deep breathing, taking a walk, even reciting a poem or song are all good techniques to try. The goal is to ground yourself, focus on something else and relax your mind. Another thing for me is my kids, seeing them laughing, playing, it brings me back down, like they fight the monster for me. Pets are another good way to become grounded. 

No matter the battle, whether big or small, just remember the monster does not define you. You are stronger than you think. One thing my therapist has helped me understand is to take everything “One day at a time.” For me this is something I tell myself everyday, but some days are harder than others. Even if you have to say one minute at a time, you are taking control. I am stronger than my anxiety, it does not define me, don’t let yours define you.

Bipolar and Religion

Did you know that studies show that in combination with medication and talk therapy that religion and spirituality have been known to be i...