Author: Cierra

June Warrior – Lauren H.

June Warrior – Lauren H.

This next Warrior is someone I am in awe of. I reached out to Lauren back in April after coming across her page on Instagram. Seeing how open she is about her mental health, I knew I had to ask her to share her story with you guys. Although she suffers from a variety of mental ailments, she is so strong and using her platform just like me, to raise awareness about the issues surrounding mental health. She immediately accepted my offer and here is her story.

During the first week of grade eight, I suddenly felt very down. I lost all my motivation, and cried. I barely slept which made it almost impossible for me to get up and go to school in the morning. After a week of staying in bed, my mother brought me to the clinic, and they assumed I had mono. The following Monday, as my mom attempted to get me to go to school again, I experienced my first panic attack. Later, I was then diagnosed with anxiety and depression. My mother decided it was best to homeschool me until I could cope a little better. My life was a constant rollercoaster. Some days I could go to school and others I could barely function.

I ended up being homeschooled for over half of the year from grade eight until grade ten, when I was put into the dropout program with the school board due to my lack of attendance. Throughout those years, I was put on many different medications and tried multiple forms of counselling. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to work. I struggled badly with my mental health. And I used very bad mechanisms to cope with life. The main things I did to cope included self-harm, isolation, pushing away everyone I loved, crying, and eating. My life had gotten to the point where I had to be hospitalized twice because my life was at risk and I was extremely suicidal. I was very alone and afraid. All my friends had either abandoned me, or I was being severely bullied by them. I barely left my room. If I happened to go out in public, I would experience extreme panic attacks and would draw a lot of unwanted attention to myself.

Years later, at the age of 17, I was graduating from a new high school. My life had finally seemed to turn around and became okay. I convinced myself to get my driver’s license and apply for post-secondary school. I was accepted into my program of choice at the local university during early acceptance.  During the summer, I experienced severe anxiety around the idea of going to university as I believed I wasn’t smart enough. So, I decided to go to the well-known college in my hometown.

When post-secondary started, my life went downhill. I was put back on medication. This medication ended up reacting negatively with my body, therefore, making me go crazy and caused me to contemplate suicide. I also developed an eating disorder which lead me to lose an unhealthy 20 pounds off my already small body. I realized I hated the program I was in. I felt like my life was ending. I ended up dropping out of the program and studying general arts for a few years. As schooling continued, my eating disorder got worse. I ended getting down to a weight of 80 lbs and being admitted to hospital. I spent 3 months on the medical unit on an IV and NG tube, and after gaining some weight, I was sent to the states for another 4 months for residential treatment.

Life after treatment was great, I thought I was improving, and I was finally happy. A little too happy. I wouldn’t sleep because I had so much energy, I was doing impulsive things like getting tattoos and piercings, and I wouldn’t stop talking. Little did I know I was experiencing a manic episode. That fall, I was diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorder. We all know that when there’s a high, there eventually has to be a down. And mine just happened to be a crash. I ended up relapsing in self harm and doing other impulsive things trying put myself at risk. To this day, I am still trying to figure out which mixture of medications work for me. And I am happy to say that after dropping out of school for a year I am finally going back in the fall for social work. My ultimate dream is to become a public speaker, I hope to bring awareness to mental health issues and help people understand how real they are. I want to bring light into the eyes of those who only see darkness, like I have in many times in my life. I am already starting this process by sharing my story on my recovery account, @laurenhourtovenko, on Instagram. My goal for this platform is just to give one person a reason to continue fighting. Now, go be a wildflower.

 

THANK YOU Lauren, for being one of the bravest souls I have met. Not only were you courageous enough to start your social media profiles about your life and your struggles, but you were willing to share your life with a total stranger when you sent this to me. I can’t express how much that always means to me when my Warriors do that. It is such a privilege to share your stories.

Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

Rating: (5 / 5)

Genre: Poetry

“There are things I cannot control

and memories I can never erase,

and in the times I don’t feel whole,

I will always search for your face.

You are every star burning in the sky,

you are every golden leaf in the tallest tree,

you are a pattern, a snowflake, and every firefly,

and I will still love you even when we’re eighty-three.

I will stand by you in every new day

even when people seem so unkind

because you are beautiful despite what they say

and you are everything I’ve wanted to find.

For all the places in which we go

for one day you might be my wife,

I think we both already know

I am yours in every life.”

First off, I am obsessed with this collection of poetry. There is Pillow Thoughts I, II, and III (to be released in Aug).

One of my favorite things about this poetry collection is that the author has divided them into categories depending on your mood/what you’re going through. Heartbreak, being in love, losing yourself, etc. I feel like anyone can relate to her poetry in their own way. I love authors that do this division because it makes it easier for me to read only poems that I need during that time. It’s a great strategy.

The other thing I enjoy is that this book is written by a member of the LGBTQ community. And it is insanely successful! Look how far we’ve come, reading about the love between two women. It really makes my heart whole. While I can’t relate to certain words or phrases depending on the piece, I can still relate overall to most of the poems. I’ve loved and lost, I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve felt a little lost sometimes. Overall she does an amazing job making the poems personal, while still expressing herself in a way that others can sympathize with.

Lastly, I just love her writing style. Poetry is very hit or miss for a lot of people based upon what style of writing they enjoy. Personally, I really enjoy her writing style and the way she verbalizes her thoughts and feelings. I love the flow, I love the way the words form together into something beautiful and heartfelt. That’s what poetry is all about – making you feel something.

I highly recommend these poetry collections for all ages/stages of life.

May – How the Media Portrays Mental Illness

May – How the Media Portrays Mental Illness

May Mental Health Discussion

How the Media Portrays Mental Illness

Hello all! Welcome to my May Mental Health Discussion. This month’s idea was given to me by my friend Cait (Thanks Cait!) and I couldn’t be more excited to discuss this topic. This month’s blog post will be more of an opinion piece rather than advice or scientific fact, so let’s jump right in!

My earliest memory of seeing mental illness in the media was watching Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 ‘Psycho’, which to this day is still one of my favorite films. I remember thinking “wow, this guy is crazy!”. Now, I was a silly 12 year old at the time, not realizing that this portrayal of mental illness was the extreme, so bare with me. I automatically

Retrieved from imdb.com

assumed anyone suffering from mental illness was also this ill. In reality, MOST mentally ill humans are not in this same kind of state that Norman Bates was. Most people can stay in their right mind and not deal with this severe of a mental episode. There are the unfortunate ones who deal with disassociation, hallucinations, multiple identities/misidentify, etc. (Raise yo hand if you’re like me!). However, most people suffering from a mental disorder do not have these sorts of issues. I did not realize this until I was about 15 or 16 years old, when I first started going to therapy. Going to therapy and speaking to a professional, I came to realize that I was mentally ill. But I did not relate at that time to Norman Bates. I began to question everything! So, I did my research and started to understand that mental illness comes in all shapes and sizes.

Now, fast forward to today – I am an advocate for mental health. And I DO NOT like the way that mental illness is portrayed in the media (for the most part; there are always exceptions). The majority of cases, I see mental health patients portrayed as absolutely batshit insane. And this makes me so mad! A lot of the people who suffer from mental illness, you wouldn’t really notice until you get to really know them. Even then, you may just notice a few oddities, nothing overly prominent. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me, “you don’t seem sick”. While this is an innocent enough thing to say, the way it makes people such as myself feel is not great. It almost belittles the struggles that we go through. But it’s hard to fault people for this, as I really do blame the media for this misconception. The media only wants to show people at their worst and lowest point – they like the dramatic. What you see isn’t generally real. It’s not relatable to people like me.

One of my biggest pet peeve’s is (obviously) how bipolar disorder tends to be portrayed. We all have had people refer to something/someone as “bipolar”. Now, usually when this is the case, they are referring to the weather changing dramatically in a short time frame or someone who’s anger goes from 0 to 100 in a second. Because of the media, people have generalized bipolar as someone who has an issue with anger – they will be happy go lucky one moment and the next, they’re yelling and screaming at you. This could not be further from the truth. “He’s so bipolar” has become way too common of a thing (for those of you who do not understand bipolar disorder, please refer to my blog post about educating on bipolar). I think the first time I had bipolar disorder betrayed in a way that I actually felt/understood it was when I read All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven last year. For the first time, it felt like reading about my own life. So while I am irritated with how mental illnesses come across, there are exceptions to every rule.

I’ve noticed a theme when it comes to mental illness in the media, and it’s that almost every time there is someone who is mentally ill, they end up in a psych ward. This enrages me to no end and here’s why. First off, as I just explained, a lot of mentally ill humans are able to maintain and manage all on their own with the help of medication and therapy. It is a very extreme case that someone ends up in a psych ward but the media acts like that’s the go-to when it comes to treating mental disorders. Another reason is that it’s completely inaccurate. Anyone who suffers

Retrieved from http://www.tv.com/news/penny-dreadful-a-blade-of-grass-review-psych-ward-blues-photo-recap-146396481078/

with their mental health can tell you how messed up the health care system is. Nobody takes your concerns seriously and it takes a lot for people to even agree to put you on medication for anything. Nevermind going to a hospital and begging for help during a psychotic episode. As someone who experiences these episodes, I have never been admitted to the hospital for it. I have gone through emergency and “been treated”, but no doctors have seemed concerned over my suicidal episodes and usually send me home. So to say that the first time someone reaches out for help they end up being forced into a psych ward involuntarily is very unlikely.

The reality is, you might not be able to tell what’s going on in someones head. Even the most severe cases, you may never know what someone is going through. We become experts at hiding it honestly. We like to hide the struggles because it makes us feel like a burden to reach out and show our vulnerability. So before you get any “education” through the media, make sure it’s accurate. It’s better to educate yourself by doing your research through accredited sites or asking someone who personally goes through it (I’m an open book, ask me anything!).

I am extremely hopeful that the more we try and end the stigma and have these conversations, the more accurate portrayals will become and the more informed people will be.

Summer 2019 Reading List

Summer 2019 Reading List

Hey y’all! I’m back this year with another summer reading list for those of you who want some awesome reading material this season.

There is a mix of genres, and I haven’t read every book (but definitely own every book) on this list. All books come with very high recommendations. So let’s get started!

 

 

 

  • How to Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow
  • The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
  • Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman
  • ‘Frostblood’ series by Elly Blake

(Frostblood, Fireblood, Nightblood)

  • One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
  • I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney
  • To Kill a Kingdom by Alexanda Christo
  • ‘Throne of Glass’ series by Sarah J Maas

(Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Assassin’s Blade (prequel), Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Town of Dawn, Kingdom of Ash)

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Genre: YA Contemporary

Content: Teen suicide

Synopsis: Since her brother committed suicide, Lex has been trying to close herself off to everyone around her and keep her grief in check. But memories of her brother follow her around and Lex has yet to tell anyone about her secret – a text her brother sent that could have changed the course of her life, and his.

** First thing I would like to say about this book is that it can be very triggering from some people so please be advised, only read it if you’re in a good mindset. **

Overall, I loved this book. It seriously gave me all the feels. Lex is such a relatable character – just a nerdy girl trying to get into MIT and is a bit of a nobody in high school. The way she navigates through life after her brother’s untimely death is something that I think anyone who has lost someone can sympathize with. She goes through the usual steps of grief, including lots of anger. She struggles with not wanting to feel anything, and brushes off her emotions on a regular basis. She likes to go through the motions of her life after her brother’s suicide. The author is able to accurately depict how Lex would be feeling during this difficult time, as the author actually did lose her brother to suicide in 1999. I really enjoyed the way the author formulated thoughts and feelings throughout the novel and it made me feel like I understood how the character was feeling, even though I have not gone through quite the same tragedy. It still felt relatable to me, which I think is really important in a book.

The writing style was really great and it was an easy read, without being too simple. I think the way the author articulates Lex’s thoughts is really fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it (even though I cried many times). You get to know and love the other characters throughout the book and really relate to a lot of them in different aspects. The book made me also feel a lot more self aware – she goes over how people react to others who have gone through these tragedies and I am guilty of all of the cliches. “Time heals all wounds”, “I know how hard this must be for you”, etc. etc.

Lastly, it really opened my eyes to how my death would impact those around me. As we all know by now, I have issues with suicidal thoughts/ideations. I have never really cared to think what my death would mean to the people that love me. This book really showed me how significant an event that would be for my loved ones, and I really appreciate that. Sometimes we really do feel like it would be for the best and we would be ridding people of a burden, but that’s not the case. You don’t think of the bad times when someone passes away; the annoyances they’ve caused, the fights you’ve had.. You think of all the amazing memories you shared together and it feels like there’s quite literally a hole in your chest. And I would hate to put anybody through that pain. So thank you, Cynthia Hand, for writing this novel. I think myself and many others needed to hear this refreshing viewpoint.

Highly recommend this book.

April – Avoiding a Caregiver Relationship

April – Avoiding a Caregiver Relationship

April Mental Health Discussion

Avoiding A Caregiver Relationship

Retrieved from Stock Video Footage – Storyblocks Video

One of the biggest struggles that I have found in my marriage is making a conscious effort to avoid it from turning into a caregiver type relationship. You get into a routine, you have someone who maybe needs their significant other more often than not, someone who is mentally ill while the other is not. It’s a tough balancing act, and after 8 years I’m still definitely not the perfect partner. However, I have always done my best to ensure that my husband is not my caregiver. For anyone struggling with this dynamic, I have a few recommendations that have helped for myself and I hope they can help you too. So, here we go!

My first tip is the most important one, which is making sure you use some of your good days to show your partner how special and appreciated they are. I know that’s hard to do when you’re feeling ill, trust me! You can barely take care of yourself, let alone cater to someone else’s needs. On my good days, I try to do lots of chores and maybe even make my hubby a nice roast for dinner. They appreciate this more than you could ever understand because it really shows them that you’re making an effort to be an equal member of the relationship. I also try to vocalize my appreciation as often as I can, to make sure he knows how important he is to me and my recovery. Another good idea is planning a fun date that involves things that they really enjoy – whether it’s a movie night in (they pick the movie and the snacks) or going out and trying something they’ve always wanted to do. Arrange a day to say “hey, it’s about you. Thanks for letting it usually be about me”.

Another thing that I think is important to do is join a support group. One of the best things I ever did was partake in a Bipolar Support Group run by one of the local counseling companies. This allowed me to lean on others and find like minded folks to talk to when I needed it. One of the things I like about this is that it takes some of the pressure off of your significant other. Of course they will always be there for you and listen when needed, and they’re more than happy to do so. However, it’s crucial to understand that they have their own things going on too – their own stresses and emotions. While they may or may not also be mentally ill, they still have every day things they deal with. Sometimes it’s good to give them a break to regulate their own mental health, and even be the one to listen to them.

One of the hardest things to do, is one of the most necessary when it comes to avoiding a caregiver relationship. Learn to be self sufficient sometimes. Obviously that is unrealistic to ask of someone who suffers from mental illness all the time, but I think that on the less awful days, we need to learn to stand on our own a little bit. We can’t go our entire lives being solely dependent on another. What if things don’t work out, or they pass away? Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. This is just as important for us as it is for them. It is very unfair to expect someone else to be the reason you’re alive and getting through the day. Obviously, lean on your loved ones during the tough times, there is NOTHING wrong with that. But we also need to know when we’re strong enough to do it on our own and weather the storm.

Lastly, keep the romance alive! It’s so easy to become complacent and stop putting in as much effort as you did in the beginning. It happens in any relationship. But if you don’t try to keep the sparks there at least a little bit, it can really start to feel more like a roommate arrangement than a couple relationship. We need to continue to show that love and affection towards them so they know we don’t see them as just our caregiver. We love you for it, but that is not all you are to us. You’re a lover and a best friend. If this is not something you excel at or if certain mental illnesses and issues keep you from being affectionate or intimate, be open to going to couple’s therapy. Your partner is an equal member of this relationship and have their needs that ought to be met as well, emotionally and physically.

 

I realize some of these points can be a little controversial, but this is just what I have written based on my own experiences and have found help me and my marriage. By no means am I saying to put someone above yourself and fully understand not everyone can accommodate these tips.

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Rating: (4 / 5)

Genre: YA Contemporary

Content: Mental illness, tragedy, self growth

Synopsis: Ingrid used to travel all over the global with her opera star mother. But life now is not at all the way it was. Now, Ingrid is on a wilderness survival retreat for at-risk teenagers. She is surrounded by addicts, runaways, criminals.. She feels totally out of place and must overcome her demons in order to survive and not be broken.

 

Yes, my synopsis is vague! I cannot give too much of this book away because I want people to go into it with an open mind. I won’t lie, I struggled to get into this book. It was an easy read, but it didn’t seem to have as much depth as I thought it would after reading the synopsis on the back. However, it grew on me about half way through, and the ending – WOW!! Did not at all see it coming. Plus, it’s by a Canadian author!

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the fact that it switches from past to present. You get lots of background this way, without it feeling like it’s dragging on and on. Some things don’t seem super relevant at first but once you look at the book as a whole, you understand why the author included certain story lines and pieces of information.

The other aspect I liked was it’s focus on mental health and different teen issues as well. I think it’s a really important book in this day and age, as we are starting to finally open up more about different illnesses and issues that plague society. Troubled homes for teens, depression, eating disorders, etc. The author does a great job of addressing different problems that face people today and really brings it to light. The one thing I will say, is that I wish we learned a little bit more about certain characters.

That being said, I took off a star because of the lack of character development. Not necessarily with the main character, but the supporting ones. Some of the characters really intrigued me and I wish that there was more written about them. She does focus on one of the people Ingrid grows close to at the retreat, but other than that we don’t get to know the others very well. In a way I feel bad criticizing that, as I think it reflects the fact that Ingrid did not bond with these people quite as much, but I think it would have added a little more to the story and make it a little more interesting if there was more dialogue between some of the other characters.

Lastly, I really enjoy how much we get to see into Ingrid’s head. By the end of the book, I felt as if she was my own friend. We really get to understand her thoughts and feelings, her frustrations, her triumphs, her demons.. I think that’s a really important part of a book for me, is feeling like I really get to know the protagonist on a personal level.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book! Although, I’m not sure how much the older crowd would enjoy it. It’s definitely “teen” literature.

April Warrior – Kaci

April Warrior – Kaci

Hello again! After a small hiatus, Warrior of the Month is back! And this time we have an interesting point of view. After reaching out on social media to anyone who would listen looking for future Warriors, I received a message from Kaci Madison. Her sister has depression and anxiety and she was only just now beginning to understand the magnitude of what that meant for her every day life. Kaci is the first to admit she was naive to mental illness issues, but now she wants to share her story as a loved one of someone who suffers firsthand.
Growing up my sister was always my greatest protector. I never realized that until our adulthood. She is 2 years older than me, and it was just the two of us. We were always really close until she got into high school. That’s when she stopped wanting to hang out with her baby sister as much and she would hide in her room a lot. I remember hearing a lot of “emo” music through the walls, always so loud. I remember fighting a lot with her too, over the stupidest things. There is one day in particular that I remember. I just got home from school, I think I was around 13 or 14 at the time, and I noticed she was home already. We went to different high schools, but she never usually came home right after school. Our mum was also home which was weird because she was usually at work. Well, we got into an argument almost the moment we saw each other. I don’t know what it was over, probably her eating the last apple or breathing the wrong way, something silly. She ran upstairs bawling her eyes out “you don’t even know what I’ve been through” SLAM! She’s in her room again, I’m not surprised. She always overreacts to everything!
She moved far away the moment she turned 18. She went to go live with a boy she barely knew, I didn’t understand why. The first time she came home to visit, I was so excited, I cried, a lot. We spent a lot of time together that time, but we still fought, so much. Every time she came home after that, I was not too excited. I always ended up in tears, and she never wanted to hang out with me. She actually didn’t even go out that much, it was just like it was when we were teenagers. In her room with her music so loud you could hear it outside. People used to ask if I was excited that my sister is home, and I would scrunch up my face and say “I guess so..?”. We just never saw eye to eye, and we lived in two completely different worlds. 
She just recently became very open about her struggles with generalized depression and anxiety.. I never realize how ignorant I was to it all. I keep asking her questions, “why aren’t your medications working?”, “how can you have suicidal thoughts but not be suicidal?” “can’t you just think your way out of it?”. It’s not something that I can easily wrap my head around. Our mother has this mind set, “fake it until you make it”, and it has always worked for me, so why doesn’t it work for her? I still have so much to learn. 
Yesterday, I finally realized that she isn’t just overreacting, she genuinely cannot help it. Yesterday was different than most days. We went to the fair with our kids, her son is 4, mine are 2 and 2 months. We had an amazing time together. We left, went our separate ways and I thought that was it for the day. I was wrong. She called me, not totally unusual, I figured she wanted to talk to me about the day or something funny my nephew did, the usual stuff. She was having a panic attack. I kind of brushed it off at first. Her son had locked himself in his room while she was changing door knobs so she couldn’t figure out how to get him out and it just sent her in a downward spiral. She has never called me while she was having a panic attack before, I didn’t know what to do. I could hear her hyperventilating, so I told her to breath, it didn’t help. I started to panic a bit. I decided all I could do was get in my car and go to her. So I talked to her the whole time I was driving. I felt so bad, I didn’t know what to do. I kept making jokes, or laughing. She told me she didn’t take her medication because she just ran out. All she had was instant relief medication that makes her sleepy so she can’t take it when it’s just her and her son home. I told her to take it as I was almost there. Now, my sister has never been one to hug or cuddle or be close anyone, so when I saw her, I asked if I could hug her, and I just held her, squeezed her hard, I couldn’t help it. I saw real fear and real sadness, I had to hug her. Her son was still locked in his room, but my main focus was letting her know it was going to be okay. 
So here we are.. 2 women who are not very handy and know nothing about door knobs, trying to figure out how to get him out of his room. Finally, after a phone call to my husband, we figured it out! I stupidly thought that would resolve her anxiety, but I was very wrong. Her medication started to kick in and I could tell. So I grabbed her son, put him in the car and we went shopping. I knew my sister needed some time to relax or have time on her own. Her son is very loving and she just did not want to be touched. I took him for a couple hours, then she called and told me she was okay now. I called her husband at work just to double check that it would be okay for me to bring my nephew home. 
I honestly never realized how real it was until then. I learned a lot yesterday. As much as I can say that I’m there for my sister whenever she needs me, the truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing, and I have no idea what she is going through. I have no idea what it feels like to be in a place where it feels like the sadness will never go away. I’ve never obsessed about death. Yesterday really opened my eyes though. I’m sorry that I never realized that this is a real illness. People die from depression everyday, and I still never realized it. My sister is truly brave. I am so proud of her for everything that she has over come, I don’t know that I’d be able to do it.
I’m not going to lie, when I first read this, I almost cried. It’s such a refreshing view that I think everyone should read. Thank you for being honest Kaci, and admitting you don’t fully understand. Just being aware of that and being there for your sister is more than enough! I hope you and your sister are well.
Update – April 8, 2019

Update – April 8, 2019

Hello all! It has been a hot minute since I last posted to my blog, and there’s a few reasons for that.

One, I was going through a rough patch. As you all know, I had a last minute trip to the mountains in February after a pretty severe suicidal episode. Shortly after, I was rediagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, after thinking for years I was Bipolar II. This was a very confusing time for me, as I had never felt just how wrong things were until that episode. My way of thinking is so different from others and I don’t think that fact had really sunk in for me until that breaking point. It was the first time I was honest with myself, those around me, and medical professionals. Lots of emotions followed my last blog post – shame, internalized resentment, feeling out of place, isolation. It has not been an easy last 2 months, to say the least. This caused me to feel very uninspired to write, when really I should have been using this as a therapeutic time to write. But, such is life.

Second, I’ve honestly just been busy! I have been trying to travel and take as many trips as I can, plus my birthday was a few weeks ago as well. I’ve been busy taking care of myself as much as I know how to. I have been focusing on self care and giving myself the time I needed to heal a little bit after February’s shenanigans. And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. As passionate as I am about this blog and being a mental health advocate, I also need to be a regular human who sometimes needs a break. Do I love writing? Yes! Do I love being honest with my ups and downs? You bet. But, there’s only so much of myself I can give to this blog and to others.

And lastly, I have not been able to find many Warriors for my Warrior of the Month segment. This has been frustrating in a few aspects, the main one being that I am saddened how little we open up about mental health still. The fact that people are still scared to share their struggles with people, especially their loved ones, makes me so upset. I hate that this is still an issue. As you all know, I believe it is so so important for people to be vocal about mental health, especially those who personally suffer. It is the only way this silly stigma will end. Time and time again, I reach out to multiple people on social media to see if anyone is willing to share their story, and 95% of the time, I do not get a response or get turned down. I also advertise a post looking for people, which also has a very low response. Why are we so dang scared to be authentically ourselves? There’s nothing wrong with us. We were born into something we did not wish for and are doing what we can do get by.

I am really planning on throwing myself more into my blog again with book reviews, monthly mental health discussions, and Warrior posts. I owe it to my followers and to myself to continue this never-ending journey. And I refuse to be silenced by anyone who still believes mental health is made up or an excuse or whatever else these people think. Mental illness is real and alive. Let’s keep breaking down the barriers and give them something to talk about.

Update – Re-diagnosis, February 2019

Update – Re-diagnosis, February 2019

Well, I’m not totally sure how to begin this update. Last I posted, I was stable for months. I was feeling good and I was optimistic on where everything was going. It’s been almost a year since I was first officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The problem? I was misdiagnosed.

For years, I have not only been dishonest with medical professionals, but also myself. I have been re-diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder. For as long as I can remember, I have had a difficult time relating to the real world. I have always felt this sense of grander, if you will. I have always truly believed I am meant for something more in this life. People like me often think they should be famous – we strive to be actresses or singers. We have this sense of being meant for a bigger purpose and the world we live in feels too mundane for us. Often times, I get lost in my books because I feel I can relate more to this fantasy world than I can my own life. These big quests, these super-humans or vampires or faeries.. I feel so much more in tune with my books than I do with the world surrounding me. I have hidden this part of me and my thoughts for too long. How can I get better and improve myself when I’m not telling the whole truth?

I think the reason I have had a hard time deciding to write about this is a sense of shame and guilt. I have never meant to lie to my readers or the people who love me. I think in a lot of ways I have been in total and utter denial. I feel.. embarrassed.. I feel like there’s something seriously wrong with me most days. What kind of person identifies more with being a vampire? Someone who genuinely hopes and believes they were meant to be born in some fantasy universe as a faerie? Someone who thinks they should be saving others and is meant for fame? These are not normal thoughts to have; yet they come. Every day. And the knowledge that that will never actually be my life and that I am just an ordinary girl with a mundane life is a hard pill to swallow. I have always buried these feelings deep within myself out of fear of not being understood. Not accepted.

As much as I preach destigmatizing mental health, I feel like a fraud. When the words “Bipolar I” came out of the new psychiatrist’s mouth, I was shocked. And I won’t lie, I felt crazy. For the first genuinely real time in my life, I felt like I was insane. And it was a horrible feeling. I’ve so often said you should never be ashamed for what you struggle with and that it’s not our faults; it’s just chemistry in our bodies dictating how we act and think. After a brief moment of feeling crazy, it sunk in. And it felt.. right. It felt as if there has always been this question and it was finally answered. I felt so authentic in expressing myself to this psychiatrist and even though I still feel a little embarrassed, I’m relieved. The truth is out. Maybe I am a little crazier than most. But I’m still me at the end of the day. The way I treat people, what I enjoy, my hobbies, my love for others; none of that has changed because of my new diagnosis.

So, there it is y’all. I have Bipolar I Disorder. I am a manic depressive. I’m either way too high, or way too low. I am never really stable. I am never “evened out”. I am suicidal more often than I would like to admit to anyone. But I am doing what I can to get by. I am pushing through it and thriving every single day, continuing my fight against myself. I am back on medication and plan on continuing therapy and being more honest than I ever have been before. I am trying to rely less on drugs and alcohol, but sometimes it’s the only thing that shuts off my mind. And for now, I’m okay with it. I can only battle one thing at a time, climb one mountain at a time. I have my whole life to figure out how to manage this in a healthy way.

For anyone else who may be a little less honest with themselves; don’t be. Be truthful, be authentic, and for the love of God do NOT be embarrassed or ashamed of something that you have zero control over. We did not choose this life. All we can do is decide what to do with the cards we’ve been dealt.

Thank you, truly, for reading this post. I was hesitant to talk about it. But I felt like I had a responsibility to use my platform accordingly.