Inside the Bipolar 2 Mind

anxiety, bipolar, depressive episode, lifestyle, mental health, mental health awareness, personal development, story, strength, suicide, suicide prevention

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 in the early spring of this year. Although I had heard of Bipolar, I had no idea the symptoms, the details and struggles that go into this particular Mental Illness for those that had been battling it every day.

It wasn’t for a few months that I even wrapped my head around this new concept and accepted I had been diagnosed with Bipolar. I took the medications like prescribed (of course, complaining about them the entire time), but most of the time I isolated myself so I could research, and research (and research) all the articles, data, and stories that I could find online to help me prove that this diagnosis was wrong…. but to no avail. As I read story after story and dived deep into understanding the explanation of this illness on Mental Health and Medical sites, I could easily say “me too!” to all the struggles and symptoms that consistently described how I was feeling, but I couldn’t articulate into words myself.

img_5356-e1541600399972.jpgSee, often people with Bipolar or any mood altering illness won’t explain to you the symptoms they experience in detail; partly because they don’t want to scare you and partly because they don’t fully understand them all themselves. It’s hard to understand a diagnosis so complex and then be able to articulate that into words. It’s hard for many reasons, but one being because some people don’t believe Mental Illness is real. It’s easy if you break your foot, go to the doctor, followed by an x-ray and then you get your diagnosis. When you are mentally ill, your ability to articulate how you are feeling, usually to a complete stranger,  is how we’re diagnosed which is why so many people are unproperly diagnosed for years before Bipolar and other Mental Health Disorders reveal their true characteristics which will finally lead to proper treatment. Treatment helps, I’m grateful for it because it makes it more manageable, but treatment doesn’t cure Mental Illness.

img_5355-1.jpgI still have to put in work every day to make the most out of the rapid cycling mood changes that drastically change as quick and easy as walking into a dark room and simply turning on the light switch to see; that darkness becomes light and vice-versa in less than seconds. Living with Bipolar, as simply put as I can explain it, is similar to that. Your mood will change in a matter of seconds for no reason at all and usually, it’s out of your control.

img_5357-2.jpgThe illness has a variety of symptoms which makes it even more difficult for people to get properly diagnosed. For example, I consider myself a very grounded person. I know who I am, my values and core beliefs. I know my boundaries and likes and dislikes. But, I don’t feel like I live in a ‘middle ground‘ mentally. I am either living in a state of mind called “Hypomania” or “Bipolar Depression”. Hypomania is constantly high-paced behavior and energy, accompanied by impulsive thinking where your ideas and thoughts race 100mph, you’re judgment becomes clouded and you can’t concentrate on the task at hand to save your life. It’s also coupled with heightened anxiety and can’t forget about that good old friend, insomnia, which regardless of how much sleep you get, your energy level will stay up and so these symptoms linger for 24 hours a day, weeks at a time. Doesn’t sound that bad, right? Actually, it’s exhausting. Exhausting both mentally and physically.

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The other half of a Bipolar mindset is dark and isolating. During a depressive episode, it begins to feel normal to fantasize about suicide which is why people with Bipolar are 3x more likely to commit suicide. These thoughts that become horrifyingly casual are called “suicidal ideation”.  It’s common that people with Bipolar are unable to explain the symptoms of these episodes. Personally, I don’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone, do anything, go anywhere, try anything, eat anything; I’m simply, extremely unmotivated. I’m sad for no reason and struggling to fight the dark thoughts that present themselves consistently, although they’re 100% uninvited. I’m irritable, anxious, fatigued and feel completely empty. If I could draw or illustrate a visual picture for you during one of these episodes to capture how it feels, it’d simply be the darkest rain cloud I’ve ever seen suddenly blocking out any and all sunlight from every area of your life. That raincloud can’t be moved, it will simply stay for as long as it intends too and in reference to Bipolar, this is the battle that most would say is the hardest about Bipolar 2.

Understanding Mental Health is important because it’ll help you understand people more. Perhaps you’ll feel more compassion next time your friend bails last minute because they’re suddenly depressed or maybe you’ll reach out more to be that friend who can pull someone out of that isolation when they desperately need someone.

Bipolar is hard, but it’s manageable. It’s a part of me, but not my entire story. Yes, I still have to find a balance in life with this new diagnosis, I don’t know all my triggers yet and I only have a handful of tools that I have developed to make it through these depressive episodes. But, in time I know that I will become better and stronger at caring and battling for my Bipolar 2 Diagnosis. I only know that because of the incredible people who boldly shared their raw stories with Mental Illness and shed light into a time in my life when I was feeling incredibly alone.

img_5359My PSA for you is after knowing that 1 in 5 people suffer from a Mental Illness, chances are you know a lot more people who struggle with similar feelings to what I’ve described. I hope you know that you can be their beacon of hope and bring light even in the darkest of times by simply listening and reminding them they are not alone. For those of you that can relate to this illness, remember that an illness like this doesn’t make you broken. It makes you strong and brave for battling your own mind every day. You have one little sparkle of madness, you must never lose it!

Wishing you all the best,
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How To Find The Bright Side In A Dark Depression

courage, depression, depressive episode, inspiration, lifestyle, mental health, mental health awareness, Mental Illness and Recovery, Motivation, personal development, personal growth, self belief, transformation, your story

 

 

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Depression.
Major Depression.
Bipolar Depression.

It isn’t just a little sadness that comes and goes. It’s more like a black hole that sucks out the life inside you. Your personality, your ambition, your mind-body, and soul feel entirely useless and defeated. It’s not easy to explain to others what’s going on when you don’t even understand all of it yourself, right?

If you suffer from abc7c7e05ef9b956053bc06682c99da7depression, I get you. I’ve been there, I am there. I know how alone you can feel at times. I know how hard it is to search for strength in the depths of your soul some days just to get to work, socialize and put on that fake smile you hate seeing yourself wear. I know what it’s like to look at people who are genuinely happy and envy that feeling because you want nothing more than to feel that happiness too.

We’re incredibly strong and resilient to battle such a strong illness, day in and day out. There are so many benefits to living with Depression. But we will hardly ever recognize these strengths of ours or the benefits we can gain during periods of depression. Instead, we feel a strong sense of hopelessness and loneliness and eventually, we get comfortable with self-sabotaging habits. Habits like isolating ourselves because we fear that nobody will understand. We stop doing things we love and pursuing our interests because we’ve lost our motivation.

901fae2bc25d565fb735fbfe2809bb99But through my own experience of walking in the valley of darkness for many years, eventually, I know that the feeling of Depression always lifts. It might not be overnight, or even for a few months. It will lift, though. And you know what makes Depression easier?

When we realize not to personally identify ourselves with Depression. Depression isn’t you. It’s normal, it’s an emotion and experience that you are going through, but it’s not what makes you unique. It’s not your personality nor the characteristics you carry. It’s an experience that will eventually expire and one that is essential in life.

Just like night time turns into day and just like winter turns into spring and then summer again; depression will lift. It’s temporary. We have to have faith that on the other side of that pain is something so very, very good.

6ad86d4d7b9ab63efc2769ee16ca0815.jpgDepression is essential because every time we have a bout with depression, we come out a different person. We have different ways of looking at things, we are doing different things. We become aware. We want to see the opportunities that identify with us instead of falling into a downward spiral and dealing with what’s happening to us.

Depression is a feeling we just want to escape when it’s present, it’s a hole we just want to step out of. But Depression, pain, fear, disillusion– they’re a part of life and a part of life that builds a stronger, better version of you!
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The thing that keeps us living is a sense of future and the next time Depression tries telling you the future isn’t there– Let’s show up, get up, gear up. Let’s confront and fight those feelings. Because it’s possible to put yourself together after you’ve been broken down, we do it with the courage inside of us every time we’re battling depressive episodes. It’s not easy, it’s going to be hard. It always is hard. But that’s what life is; hard.

And you know what? You’re strong. You have a purpose, this depression is a stop in your journey; remember that it’s not your final destination. Instead, it’s here to elevate you, to bring you adversities that will transform you and challenge you to believe in yourself more than you ever have before. Why? Because once you prioritize yourself, the rest will fall into place.

87a5b4ee58e676fa511406cfc9030709No, happiness doesn’t pay the bills. But happiness brings more energy and that energy can be used to change the world, to do great things you never would’ve done before if you hadn’t had experience that taught you the way. That’s the bright side of Depression. 

All those times I thought people were insensitive when they’d tell me to go for a walk, think more positive, “it’s all in your mind”— I’d want to roll my eyes and whisper to myself you don’t understand. But once I stripped away my ego and negative thoughts– I saw that they were just simply stating that they still believed in me.

People still believe in YOU. They need you. Remember, Life needs you. Depression can become your greatest teacher if you learn to look for the lessons it’s bringing.

Until next time,
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How to move forward on days you are fighting Depression? Here is how & most importantly, why!

anxiety, bipolar, courage, depression, depressive episode, gratitude, happiness, lifestyle, love yourself, meditation, mental health, mental health awareness, Mental Illness and Recovery, mindfulness, new post, personal growth, story, strength, twenties

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“It is estimated that nearly thirty percent of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide at least once in their lives. The suicide rate for people with bipolar disorder is twenty times that of the general population.” and “The annual suicide rate in the U.S. is over 13 deaths per 100,000 population.” (Source: CDC)

The battle is real.

It seems like it comes out of nowhere–  The bad days piled on top of each other, the insecurities subconsciously revealed and eventually the dark, depressive episode that’s been anticipated for some time has come. Even with practice, a lot of time spent learning how to self-coach and how to develop helpful strategies plus a variety of natural supplements– I think that I am getting better at finding the right strategies for me; the tools I can use to help ease the symptoms of Mental Illnesses. But living with this new world and drastically difficult experience of Bipolar II leaves me clueless on some days.  I still have so much to learn. And part of this learning process is understanding the disorder more and more along with understanding how to best combat the powerful symptoms that show up uninvited.

Like, the inevitable emotion of “feeling alone” that is stronger than any other emotions today. A loss of connection, which is the one thing that truly makes my world go round, leaves me feeling so isolated and living in a part of a world that’s different than the rest of society lives in.  The Mental Health Community knows these feelings all too well– we never welcome them, but we know how to overcome them more and more because of pure experience and from practicing different strategies that get us through these incredibly tough moments.

ashleigh1On some days, like today, the worst is just beginning– the self talk inside our head starts to develop and begin telling you a story that isn’t your story. Yet it’s heard with such persuasiveness that you can fall into it’s trap in a moments notice; If you don’t have a set intention and a strategy. The self talk begins the same way; that it’s “just you– nobody else who feels like this. You’re the crazy one. No other mom has depression like this, or even… Bipolar. And no other wife has low moments like this. Plus, your in your twenties, Carrie? Something has to be wrong with you— (with us, right?) Maybe we are the crazy ones after all” and that’s how the self talk begins to get a grip on our lives. Our symptoms make us feel like the strength we’ve built up after all these years has dissolved overnight and we suddenly we feel defeated in a world we were just on top of yesterday.  So as that tape of negative self talk replays over and over, reminding you of the things you suck at and ambitions you ‘won’t ever amount to’… you’re faced with two options.

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Option 1) Let it feel so real it becomes your reality. As it takes over as your new reality, It will begin to isolate you into a world so far away from others. You’re not aware of how your insecurities are developing into the negative self-talk that shows up during these episodes so that self-talk becomes so loud that the noise inevitability destroys your perception of yourself and the beautiful world around you. Your Mental Illness defines you and there is just a small sliver of hope that you’re barely holding onto as days fade into months.

Or option 2) Stand up and Step Up.  It’s a battlefield in your mind. One you didn’t ask to be apart of but now you’re here. It’s a reality only you can pull yourself out of—even though you didn’t pull yourself into it. Don’t give up and cry. Show up and try. Cry because you are trying your hardest. Cry because you’re trying your best to believe in yourself more than you believe in a Mental Illness defining who you are. With the courage inside you, stand up and say that not another day these thoughts get to paralyze me OR you or all the millions of others who deal with this… Today, we start to notice how our inner self talk is affecting us. Is it positive, do we talk to ourselves with love and compassion or with doubt and impatience?  We can begin to develop our strategies that will help us on these dark, depressive days– After all, we have had a lot of practice. This is why we will choose to move forward when everything in our mind tells us it’s easier to give up.

Today, we can choose if we want to get into bed; But we aren’t going to be forced to bed paralyzed, by our thoughts, because of depression. Not another wasted day where the world feels so big that you can’t ever possibly compete. This feeling is normal to 1 out of every 5 people, you are not alone despite that record playing in your head.  It’s a symptom of many Mental and Physical illnesses, but today I want you to find the courage and strength to say, “Yes” to life and “no” to the symptoms that have the power to dictate our life, only if we aren’t intentional in our recovery.

Some days, it’s much easier to get past the symptoms of Bipolar Depression because I’ve been learning my triggers, I’m working on self-coaching and the way I talk to myself.  I am observing the environments that push me into these pits of hell. I keep looking for the lesson I can use in every low moment so that next time, I’m just a little bit stronger.  Don’t ever let this illness let you forget that before these illnesses came, lived a person inside all of us, that is filled with potential, courage and so much strength. That person still exists and still has so much positive influence in the world & an incredible amount of  power.

It’s easy to lose sight of that on these dark days, I completely understand. I’ve been there. Today, I am there.  But it’s not impossible to gain back that sight of who you really are and where you’re going. This isn’t a permanent place of mind, it’s a temporary stop that we have to embrace in order to become who we really are. 362b26472785ab5bdf449d8f607eadaa

People believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself. That’s why I’m sharing this extremely low point that I am in today, –to provide some of you with  hope and the reminder we all need from time to time that is: with strength and a hunger to thrive beyond this illness, we develop skills that make us resilient. We can persevere past these days and learn a little something along the way. Be kind to your mind! You are not alone. You are filled with the courage and strength that equips you to handle these battle.

af06b730b933c46322041195845dcce9If today is one of your low days– I’ll be the first one to say– you’re a great mom and doing the best you can because you have’t given up. Your child will look up to you for your resilience and will know that you never gave up– a skill that will be embedded in them for life and one they will need to be successful. Maybe your a wife too; the healer and fixer of all things, on so many days.  But not even Wonder woman could save the world in one day. So today, stop and relax and don’t feel ashamed about it.  Be kind to your mind because that’s how we learn to control this Illness and stop letting it control us. Check out this “prescription” for better Mental Health and see if any of them are things you can see yourself using.

My strategies on depressive days usually revolve around the actions below:

  1. repeat positive ” I can” statements.
  2. Reach out to a friend I trust
  3. Write down five things I’m good at and 5 topics I’m grateful for.
  4. Than shower and sit in the water with no interruptions. This helps me retreat to my safety place and calm my anxiety. I’ll take as many as 4 showers in one day if it helps.
  5. and meditate, meditate, mediate. It helps you ground yourself, reconnect to yourself and feel more in control. They have YouTube and podcasts that are short and totally doable at work or at home! Look up positive affirmations, or self confidence affirmations and complete the exercise, mindfully.

Take a look at online resources. Small things below might benefit you more than what benefits me because after all– we are all unique and have different symptoms:
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“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”              -Helen Keller

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. I’m always here as someone who can relate.  Check out resources, articles and podcasts that will help you strengthen your skills. Don’t forget to believe in yourself and rely on the strength and courage that continues to move you in the right direction.
img_1776Carriedoran9@gmail.com— in case you ever need someone.