Mental Health Awareness Week: Looking Back on Year One

Hi Friends!

This week, October 7th-13th is Mental Health Awareness week and TODAY October 10th is World Mental Health Day. The theme for this year is #CureStigma. Curing the stigma around discussing mental health is one of the most important issues our world faces today. We lose so many beautiful souls each year because they were too afraid to speak up and say, “I Need Help!!” for fear of ridicule and backlash from their friends and family.

I was guilty of this fear. For two years I suffered in silence with depression. I would spend days in bed and only get dressed before my Husband got home from work so he wouldn’t suspect anything. I went out with friends and never mentioned my day to day activities. I was numb to everything and everyone, but I couldn’t even utter the word “depression”.

Cut to my manic episodes; those could not be ignored or hidden. My mind broke and everyone saw it happen. It was humiliating and heartbreaking. Luckily, I have the BEST support team and doctors who helped me figure out what was going on and how to live through it. I can’t stop myself from wondering, would I have gotten assistance sooner if I wasn’t afraid of asking for help? Would I have been diagnosed in 2016 instead of 2017 after my second manic episode?

I will never know that answer, but I’m very grateful I have the support and knowledge I have today, almost a year from my diagnosis. I like to say, “I am heavily medicated and happy.” Do I need to take 200mg of Seroquel to sleep at night? Hell ya, and that is okay. Do I need the occasional Ativan to live my life? Yes I do. And that is okay.

It took me a long time to be okay with those facts. I felt like I was admitting defeat and a weak person. I NEEDED pills just to fall asleep? For me that was a hard pill to swallow, literally. But now, swallowing those pills before bed and first thing in the morning are normal, and I know I need them to stay clear headed and well-rested.

I don’t ever want to hit that full manic state again. I don’t. Does that mean I won’t, nope. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of bipolar; I can’t promise I won’t get depressed or go manic again. Do I dread it every day? Yes I do. I am terrified that I will, God-willing, have a five-year-old and one day just wake up manic and won’t be able to take care of my baby. That’s the biggest fear: fear of my bipolar future. I know I am strong and capable of staying in control, but this disorder does not play fair.

So today, on World Mental Health Day I want to speak to all those suffering silently and tell you: It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to feel numb, lost, ecstatic, depressed, manic or any other feelings you have. Your feelings are valid and they are hard to process. What is not okay is to sit and suffer in silence. There is so much help available and most of it can be reached anonymously. Call that number, text that therapist you found on Talkspace. GET HELP. We are all rooting for you.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-8255

For more information on World Mental Health Day visit: World Mental Health Day 2018

XOXO,

Heather