Bipolar Disorder & The Workplace

There’s no doubt being Bipolar has some drawbacks, but it’s not impossible to have a regular life. It creates problems in your personal and social life. Some people think that we can’t hold down a job, but that’s not necessarily true. Eighty-eight percent of people with Bipolar Disorder have said that it affects their work-life, and fifty-eight of them have stopped working altogether. Not everyone believes that working is wrong for someone with Bipolar; some think work gives someone a sense of structure. Work gives people structure, can help enhance your mood, and maybe empower you.

There isn’t a specific kind of job for someone who is Bipolar; you should always search for something that makes you feel comfortable. There are a few things to think about when looking for a job, and I want to bring them to light for you.

Here are a few things to consider when looking for work. 

  1. What will the environment be like? Will you grow as an individual here? For most, a relaxed and quiet workplace can help them stay in a structured routine. 
  2. What will your schedule be? Part-time, an adjustable schedule, and day jobs can be good for you. Working overnight isn’t recommended, as it can throw you off your much-needed routine. 
  3. What are your coworkers going to be like? Seek a job where you relate to them and make sure you have a nice balance between life and work. Having a support system at work can be crucial to someone struggling with Bipolar Disorder. 
  4. Is it creative? I enjoy working in places where I can use my imagination. 

Make sure you keep thinking about…

  1. Your interests
  2. What strengths and abilities do you have
  3. What kind of personality do you have
  4. Your values
  5. Your health
  6. What are your limits and triggers
  7. What are some barriers you have?

Tips for handling stress at work…

  1. Recognize when you are getting overwhelmed and take a break. 
  2. I like to use the relaxation mechanisms I’ve gotten from my counselor. Deep breathing, grounding myself, and mediation have helped me tremendously. n
  3. On your break, put your headphones in and listen to music that calms you. 
  4. Realize when you are getting burnt out and take some time off. It’s okay to take a break from work to regroup. 

Do you have legal rights at work? Yes. Yes, you do. 

  1. No law says you have to disclose your Mental Illness to your place of work. Its understandable people wouldn’t be open about it. There is a huge stigma surrounding Mental Health, and most people don’t understand how it can affect your work-life. 
  2. I have shared with my boss that I am Bipolar, and I was scared at first. I had gotten tired of hearing my boss throw around snide comments about people who are mentally ill. IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT THEY CAN NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST YOU FOR THIS. 
  3. There are hotlines available to those who need help talking about their illness. You can go online to Mental Health Works and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce stress and angst at work.

Get outside.

Excercise.


Eat better.


Drink water.


Make sure you SLEEP!
Stick to your routine.

It’s not impossible to work with Bipolar Disorder. In fact, work has helped me grow out of my shell. Getting up every day and having something to do is amazing for my routine. It’s okay to be nervous about speaking up, but know that you are NOT alone. Be strong. You got this.

Got some questions?

I posted a question the other day on Instagram, asking what people wanted to know more about Mental Health. I might not know everything, but I’m always ready to learn more. Life is about growing, learning, and expanding your view of the world. I hope I never lose my drive to do these things. The best way to learn something is to do your research, which happens to be something I LOVE. I also know how much y’all love to hear my opinions so…you’re welcome.

What helped you to become more transparent about your Mental Health?

The whole beginning of 2020 fucking sucked. There was a lockdown and lots of personal shit. I realized (slowly) that the only person whose opinion should matter is mine. Granted, I don’t have that transparency with my family. You can use online research as a helpful way to gain advice or help (obviously, you’re on my blog LOL). When you are ready to be transparent with your loved ones, understand that it might be awkward (for both parties) at first. It helped me to think about the fact that our parents are people too. They’ve experienced pain, heartache, and loss too. You never know who can help you and give advice. That first conversation is the first step. Once that is out of the way, you can begin talking about what you are experiencing. It might not be the response you are hoping for, but I’ve learned that’s okay. Speaking your truth can make you feel vindicated.

Lifestyle changes to help with depression.

I’m still figuring this one out, so I did some research. You know, my favorite thing to do. Let’s learn together, huh?

  1. Change your expectations. Understand that there is no timetable for depression. It’s okay to give yourself some time. 
  2. Find the things that bring you joy, and DO THEM. 
  3. Find your safe place. Find somewhere (or something) that brings you peace.
  4. The feelings you get when you are depressed can feel never-ending. It helps to remember that these feelings are all a part of your illness. Don’t give up, please. 
  5. It can take a lot out of you, so don’t push yourself too hard. Take your time getting back to who you are. 

“I’ve never tried medication; does it have any side effects for you?”

I didn’t get on medication until right before I got pregnant. I’ve read a lot of things regarding this topic. You know, Big Pharma and all that shit. I was told my whole life that it’s all about your mindset, and medication isn’t needed. I’m twenty-five now, and I rely on medication to get me through life. Sure there are side effects, but tell me a medication that doesn’t have one? I experience a few different side effects. Sometimes I puke, all day long. Other days, my balance is completely off and I’m stumbling all over. In the end, if the benefits outweigh the bad parts…keep using them.

What does Mania feel like?

I had my worst Manic Episode during the height of my drug addiction. We all know addicts are manipulators, but it’s not just to other people. They manipulate themselves as well. I was convinced I had no problem; everything was A-OKAY. One night Tristan tried to help, but I wouldn’t hear it. He had brought me the empty bags he had found, and I remember laughing. “That’s not mine,” I said. We argued for a long time. I don’t remember much of our argument, but I came to when I was outside. I was beside myself. How could he accuse me of using drugs? What would ever make him think that (HAHA)? I proceeded to sprint to the highway. I planned to jump into the street and become a Madison pancake (as my mom always said). Anyways, Mania can be exciting. It can make you feel like you are on top of the world. You’re invincible, and no one matters but you. Everything you feel is heightened. It can go so many different ways. You can be on a high horse, or you can think everything around you is fucking annoying. Mania makes me self-sabotage. I usually relapse during a Manic Episode. I feel like my brain is moving too fast, and I can’t catch up. I find myself struggling to pick a mood. As I have gotten older, I’ve become more conscious of what is going on. Knowing helps me understand how to navigate the fucking bullshit. I have to keep myself level and focused on getting through it. I can’t let Mania take me over. I must overcome it.

Positive coping techniques for anxiety

  1. Avoid moping. It helps to get out there, socialize. Do things that distract you. 
  2. Do some yoga. Meditate. Take a breather.
  3. Avoid Anxiety-producing Stimuli. Don’t park in the far spot of the parking lot. Don’t watch a horror movie and go outside. Avoid spending time with people who cause trouble. 
  4. Exercise. It’s not always about trying to get in shape. Getting outside is good for you. It burns away all that stress that you are feeling. 
  5. Think positive. I struggle with this, so I know it can be difficult. I like to set alarms. These alarms send me messages; like “you matter” or “remember your worth.” 
  6. Accept it. Your anxiety is always going to be there. Learn how to talk about it. Fearing your anxiety will drive you crazy. It’s never going away; so focus on ways to handle the angst. 

I know it has been a while since I’ve posted, and I apologize. I won’t let this happen again. Thank you guys for all of your support. I love y’all.

I’m Madison, and I’m an addict

It’s been almost four years since I decided to get sober. Cocaine would have killed me if it weren’t for the people who cared about me. There are five million regular cocaine users in America right now, JUST America. Addiction is a disease that kills thousands and affects millions every year. Deaths by overdose have fucking tripled since 1990. This shit is real. We, as a society, need to broaden our viewpoints and spend more time understanding than judging.

Almost twenty-one million Americans have at least one addiction, and only 10% of these people seek help. I’ve seen the disgust people feel when they talk about addicts, but t’s not rare. Addiction affects millions of people. So, why? There’s no point. Instead, you can try being a support system for the person who needs you. In 2018, there were 14,666 cocaine-related deaths. Drugs change your brain in ways that cause problems when it comes to stopping. Addiction is a complicated disease, but it’s more common than you’d think. When you’re an addict, there is always a chance of relapsing. Relapsing doesn’t mean you failed. Treatment changes over time and molds to you as life goes on. It’s okay to take a step backward, as long as you pick yourself up and keep going forward.

Looking back, I’ve always been an addict. I see it all now. I’ve had many vices over the years, but cocaine was my biggest one. When I started bartending, the late nights were brutal. I was introduced to it quickly, but I had no idea what it would do to me. I went down this dark rabbit hole. Food was not something I needed, neither was sleep. I thought I hid it well, but Tristan knew. Everyone knew. After an intense psychotic episode, he gave me two choices. I could quit or move out. So, I quit. I was ninety-five pounds and hadn’t eaten anything in days. Nosebleeds were a regular thing. I know if I would’ve continued I would have died. The worst part is that I will be fighting my entire life to stay on the right track. But, I have always been a fighter. I have a support system that now that I have never had before. I’m an addict, but I’m also so much more than that.

Cocaine-related deaths grow every year. It damages the lungs, provokes mental disorders, and can cause respiratory problems. Dealing with an addict can get stressful, sometimes it can feel like there’s no hope. But, there is ALWAYS hope. Addiction is a physical disease (like diabetes), and you have to realize that it isn’t their fault. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. I have a few do’s and don’ts regarding how to deal with an addict. I know how hard it can be to talk to someone struggling, because I was that someone. Addicts manipulate not just you, but also themselves. Drugs rewire the brain and make it hard to stop.

Don’t:

  • You should never push shame or your criticism on an addict. When someone is in active addiction there is never a time for tough love.
  • Remember that there is no sole reason for this disease, so don’t ever push fault onto the addict!
  • Don’t expect progress immediately, and ultimatums aren’t always the best way to go.
  • It isn’t always easy for an addict to talk about their problem, so don’t think they will open up immediately. These things take time.
  • Never call an addict selfish.
  • NEVER lump your loved one into a box. Don’t assume that addiction only affects bad people. That’s simply not true.

Do’s:

  • Encourage your loved one to find out what helps them in their journey into sobriety.
  • DO YOUR RESEARCH. I feel like I say this a lot, lol. But it’s true. The more you know, the better you can help your loved one.
  • Help your loved set goals for their journey. Goals can help people strive for something more, which I think is crucial for getting sober.
  • It’s okay to celebrate the milestones, but there’s nothing too small or too big for your loved one. Your loved one struggles every day, so always keep that in mind.
  • Provide your loved one with support and love. Keep things positive. Encourage them along their journey. Providing your loved one a good support system is one of the best things you can do.

This shit is never simple, but it’s not impossible. If you or your loved one are struggling with this disease, know that you are not alone. Not all of us have good support systems, and for the ones who don’t, I’m sorry. My contact page is a way to reach me if you need someone in your corner. I’ve gone through the ashamed phase, but that’s done. There’s no shame in telling your story, and I hope more people do that over time. I’m proud of my progress, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten those times. Recovery is all about acceptance and forgiveness.

So here’s to my four years.

SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357

Myths & Shit

Who else grew up around people who didn’t understand Mental Health? Who else was berated in school constantly? Now, come on. I know I am not the only one. Middle School was when my Mental Health drastically started to decline. I had very few friends who loved me despite it all. Sarah, my first kiss, you were a rock for me in middle school. Most people didn’t understand (or didn’t want to) what I was going through. I learned quickly how mean people are. I learned to wear long sleeves. I couldn’t risk anyone seeing my cuts. I got many comments. I heard things like, “you’re just looking for attention” and “you should just kill yourself.” Mental Health isn’t in schools curriculum, can you believe that? Mental Health IS Health, and we should discuss it as much as Physical Health.

I scoured the web for different myths that are out there regarding Mental Health. I thought I would share what I found and then share my rebuttal.

Here we go.

Myth: People with Mental Health problems are violent and unpredictable.

I will be the first to admit that I have had my share of freakouts. But who hasn’t had a freakout? I’m Bipolar, no doubt about it. But just because I am Bipolar, doesn’t mean that every emotion I have is because of that. Everyone freaks out. Everyone feels intense emotions, not just me. People with Mental Illness aren’t prone to anything more than y’all special folk with no problems. Lol.\

Myth: You can’t do anything to help someone who has a Mental Health problem.

Alright, what the fuck? This is something people really think? Shit…this world dude. I’ve lost many friends because of my episodes. There’s so much I wish I could tell them now. I loved them and still do. Sometimes I can get to be too complicated, but I’ve never wanted to be alone. There’s so much you can do for someone you love who is suffering. I will always say that doing your research is the best way to understand what your loved one is going through. I know giving up is the easiest way out, but that’s only easy for you. What about your loved one? There is ALWAYS something you can do to help. I promise.

Myth: Mental Health problems are rare.

HAHA, people actually think that? Ain’t that some shit. For your information, one in four people will experience a Mental Health problem in any one year. Mental illnesses aren’t uncommon. I have been struggling with my Mental Health since I was 11 years old, so I think I kind of understand this shit a little more. Mental Illness happens, and it doesn’t discriminate. We are in 2021. I think it’s time for Mental Health to be a priority in life and the world.

Myth: It’s okay to use derogatory words such as “crazy”, “nut-job”, “off your meds”, or “psycho.”

It absolutely is NOT. Don’t you ever come at people and call them names. My illness isn’t a joke. This shit is REAL, and I don’t appreciate it being used for shits and giggles. It’s insensitive. It’s time for Mental Health to stop being a joke for people to use when they feel like being mean. Fuck that. Don’t ever use someone’s Mental Illness against them. EVER. It is wrong, and it’s cruel. My feelings get hurt when people try to use my illness against me. I’m Bipolar, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Thanks for listening to my opinions.

And…. good night. ❤

Who wants to get tatted? Oh, just me?

If you know me, you know I love tattoos. And if you really know me, you know I struggle with self-harm. Every now and then I try to count my tattoo’s and I always lose count around thirty. I have tattoos ranging from a few cuss words to a bible verse on my wrist. But, I can honestly say I don’t regret a single one of them. Over the years, I’ve accumulated hundreds of scars. Most of which are now covered with art. It’s hard for me to put into words how I felt when I got my first self-harm cover-up tattoo. It went from the scars that everyone questioned, to this wonderful piece of art. And yes, tattoos are art and I am the living canvas.

I’ve spent most of my life dealing with this, and it’s affected so many aspects of my life. What do you think of when you think of getting a tattoo? I bet you start to wonder how painful it’s going to be, and it is painful (even though I’ve fallen asleep during some). So is getting a tattoo or piercing a form of self-injury? I mean, both maim and change the body after all. I’ll be the first to admit that some of my tattoos did come about because I had the urge to hurt myself, but it’s not always about that. Tattoos aren’t done by one’s own hands, so really it’s not self-harm. For me, it’s mostly become a coping technique. A very expensive coping technique, haha.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like my depression is swallowing me whole. My life just isn’t where I thought it would be at twenty-five, but are any of y’all where you thought you’d be? No, really. I’m curious. I started harming myself in little ways the past couple of months. You know, like the cap of a pen or a paperclip. I know it’s not a healthy coping mechanism, but sometimes it’s all that works to calm me down. Self-injury isn’t uncommon. It happens way more thank you think. There have been studies to show that one in five people have harmed themselves intentionally at least once in their life.

Self-harm usually develops in the early teens, when you’re young and finding out who you are. Life was scarier back then, at least for me anyway. When I was that age (and maybe even now), I associated cutting with the release of my inner pain. Hurting myself made me feel something, it made me remember that I’m a person and I can feel things other than emptiness. Although, it wasn’t always cutting. I went through a period where I would go outside and punch the bricks of the house. God, I did it over and over and over again. And, do y’all remember bloody knuckles? I can’t believe we played those games, but it was my alternative to cutting at school. So I played, and I still have the scars to show for it.

I spent all of the school years wearing long sleeves, bracelets, or long pants to hide the cuts. I also had to avoid the cruelty of other kids. Kids can be cruel, and I had my fair share of cruelty in school. One time, this girl Katie told me I should kill myself. We were in eighth grade, and I was in a really vulnerable place. Kids (and some adults) don’t realize how much words can impact a person. I spent so much time covering up my cuts when I should have spent more time understanding why I was hurting myself. Therapy is real, and it helps. It’s not a fluke, and if you need help you should get it. It’s the right thing to do for yourself, and it doesn’t make you weak.

I love my tattoos. Every single one of them. I have a story for every single one, and they always bring a smile to my face. I know it can’t be an alternative for cutting, but it sure is a good way to express myself. Now, I don’t want to hurt myself for the rest of my life. I know I need help and I’m committed to the work it takes to get better. I’m gonna share my favorite tattoo story before I go. I got “fuck this shit” tattooed on my hip. No one ever sees it but it’s one of my most meaningful tattoos. I crawled out of a deep dark hole the day I got it, and I’ll always remember that feeling.

When my Pawpaw passed, Cameron passed shortly after. Life got turned upside down. When Tristan had me move out, I was really lost. I was in this place where I couldn’t find a single thing that was good about me. This one day I was curled up in bed, crying my eyes out and I started saying fuck this shit. I started to think about how shitty life can be but on the other hand, it can be so beautiful. There are always better days. So, I got up and drove to the tattoo parlor. I thought of my life, friends, family, and everything in between. Then I got it. I got “fuck this shit” to remind myself that yeah, life can suck but it gets better. It always gets better.

I Got A Case of Word Vomit

Do you remember being little? Weren’t we much happier then? Back when nothing else mattered but playing outside with your friends after school. No cell phones, no social media, those were the good days. Grace had her first incident with a kid the other day, and it got me thinking. She’s growing up, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I still remember the way she smelled when they put her in my arms after her first bath. If you’re a parent, you know that smell too. In a few days, I will no longer be able to have children. Hah. That’s weird to say. I’ve had mixed feelings these last few weeks. There were a million what-ifs that came up. What if Tristan and I don’t get married? Would someone else want someone who can’t have kids? Am I going to regret it once Grace is older? Am I being too hasty? Maybe I’m still too young? Just because I’m Bipolar doesn’t mean my kids would be too, right? In the end, there are a million what-ifs. But the pros here definitely outweigh the cons.

The reality is that I am Bipolar, on Anti-Psychotics, and not sure I’ll ever be able to handle getting off medication for nine months. It took a long time to come to this decision. I’m still not really sure how my parents feel about it. I kind of just told them and didn’t really give much room for rebuttals. It’s my body? So it’s my choice. I’ve become more in tune with what is best for me, and I know this is the right thing to do. Plus, there are so many different ways to have a child. There are so many fucking kids out there who are born to people who don’t want them or who can’t take care of them. I have so much love to give, and I can’t think of a better way to spread the love. I could make a child feel wanted, loved, and happy. Every child deserves that. Kids deserve everything. Kids should always be protected. Plus, I think Grace would love a sibling at some point. Even if the sibling doesn’t come from me.

I’ve always been a hypochondriac, so to say I’m nervous would be an understatement. I’m trying not to think about it too much. I’ve been focusing on the positives. My depressive episode has started to lift. I can see the light again, and it’s so refreshing. Focusing on myself, Grace, and my family is all I need right now. I got some fish. Haha, they’ve actually been helping me. They’re really cute too. I think this is the longest I have ever kept fish alive. Granted, I did go all out and buy a full blow aquarium set. Haha. But hey, my counselor said it was a good idea. My routine is back. I spend my mornings working out, dancing, and spending some time in the sun. Having a routine is good for me. It keeps me going in a forward motion. It helps keep me focused on the things I need to do. I just recently started to get my license to sell insurance and I’m feeling really good about it.

Anyways, as you’re reading this I’m probably loopy as hell laid up in bed. When I got the call from the hospital to ask about my medical history, I was surprised by how loving the nurse was. She asked all these questions, and then drug history came up. When I told her I was an addict (you’re always an addict though), she started to cry. She told me how proud she was of me, that I did a good job, and that she was happy that I’m still here. It was one of the sweetest things, and I am glad she was the nurse I talked to. It’s good to know that there are good people out there.

This post isn’t too informative, but I needed to get some things out. I’ve been bottling things up a lot lately. When I bottle things up, they never come out good. I need so much to happen in these next few months. We need to find a new place to live, I need to start paying off some debt, and I just need more money. I’ve been into manifesting things and using affirmations lately, so I thought I’d throw a few out there before my surgery.

I’m manifesting that things will go okay.
Good things will start to come my way.
I am strong.
The rest of this year will be good to me.
I am making the right decision for ME.
I am full of love and light.
I deserve all the happiness in the world.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Time To Let Go

We’re all born with a clean slate, pure and innocent. It doesn’t last long. One day you’re five walking through the kindergarten hallways, and then you’re twenty-five. 2020 was one of the worst years of my life. It chewed me up and spit me out, all kinds of fucked up. I lost myself and am still trying to repair the damage caused. When 2021 began, I was determined to get my shit together. I found the Cerebral app and got back on medication. I started a blog, got back into yoga, and started learning how to cope better. Living with Bipolar Disorder isn’t a walk in the park, but I am committed to the work it takes. Getting back into therapy has been eye-opening for me.

I’ve always been someone who takes the trauma and puts it in a box. There’s this box in my brain that contains all the things I have decided to bury. It’s time to open it. I can’t move on and continue in my recovery with these things holding me back. When I was younger, writing was always a safe place for me. My therapist suggested trying it. Taking pen to paper, you know? I’ve become very open this year about who I am and what I go through. I’m not posting this to my blog to gain sympathy. It’s good knowing you aren’t alone. Healing your inner child and accepting the negative experiences is a huge step in recovery. Recognizing your triggers can be very beneficial for you.

Let’s start from the beginning. Lol. I was fourteen freshman year. I had already been cutting myself for a few years and went into high school seeking something (or someone) to make me feel better. My first boyfriend was two years older than me. Let’s call him Asshole number one. Lol. The relationship was possessive. He needed so much attention; there were calls ALL THE TIME and so many text messages. It got to the point where he thought he was going to marry me. I WAS FOURTEEN. Like, what the fuck? Losing my virginity to him is something I regret. All that comes with that memory is pain. I lost a piece of myself to him that day. We broke up when he was out of town, and I quickly moved on. He wasn’t ready to let me go. I remember seeing him drive by our house all the time. He started rumors saying that I was telling people he raped me, which led him to put a letter in my mailbox addressed to my mom. Yes…a fucking letter to my mom. It got to the point where he keyed my boyfriend’s car at school. He made me feel unsafe for a long time, but he also was the beginning of a long line of bad choices in men.

After Asshole number one, there was Asshole number two. It was amazing…until he went to college. I thought it was going to end in marriage. I was CONVINCED, and I’m fucking ecstatic that it didn’t. When he went off to school, our relationship started to fade away. I tried to make it work. I went to visit a handful of times before things went sideways. One of the last times I went, we had gone out after the football game. Now, I liked a good party back then. We drank, and I was fucked up. There’s still a lot missing from that night when I think back to it, but I can remember some. When we left to go back to his dorm, he had his friend put me in the backseat (I couldn’t walk). I remember his friend having me put my head on his lap and I thought, “I can sleep now.” He continued to molest me in the backseat of his truck, and Asshole number two did nothing. I could feel his hands on me, but I couldn’t move. So I closed my eyes and waited for the car to come to a stop. I quietly thought that this was all I was good for…sex.

It took both my boyfriend and his roommate to get me into their dorm room. I honestly think I had an out-of-body experience. Asshole number two and his roommate continued to have sex with me. They had sex with me when I was in a state where I couldn’t even speak. The incident comes to me in flashes. He was someone I loved and thought loved me back. He was supposed to be my safe place, and he hurt me. They took something from me that night that I never got back, and it sent me into a downward spiral. Sex meant nothing to me after this. I was looking to fill a void in me, and I looked for it in boy’s beds. I believe I experienced Mania for the first time that year. I stopped loving and caring for myself. I’ve never talked to my family about what he did to me, and I’m not sure how they will feel if they read this. I have stopped caring about the negative and I don’t care if this makes people talk. It should make people talk. I was scared for years to talk about this, but not anymore. I want everyone who has been through something like this that they are NOT alone. You are never alone.

Fast forward to July 2014, and Tristan has come into my life. I had already committed to going to Mississippi State for my freshman year of college. A few months in, we had a concert. I forgot who came to play, but we had to walk these little town roads to get there. Parties were all over. I think we stopped at like seven different houses on the way to the concert. I was out with my friend, her boyfriend, and a few guys from his fraternity. I was pretty drunk but I was aware of my surroundings. I found one of the guys we had been out with all night and asked if he would walk me across campus to my dorm. I was scared to walk all that way alone. I didn’t know the person I had to be scared of was the one walking me home. I’m not sure how far we had gotten before he grabbed and shoved me behind some dumpsters. My back was up against the concrete wall, his hand over my mouth. He attempted to make me touch him, but I wasn’t going to just let it happen. I grabbed, twisted, and dug my nails in. When he let go, I ran the whole way to my dorm. I stayed up till the sun was in the sky, smoking cigarettes the entire time. I lasted one semester before going home. I got depressed, stopped going to my classes, and slept all the time. I was miserable, so I went home. In a way, I felt like he won. But, I’m glad I came home. Look at the family I’ve created and look at how much love I have in my life. So…no. He didn’t win.

It’s been almost a decade since these things have happened to me. This past year has been huge for me in regards to self-growth, self-love, and forgiveness. I am a survivor, I am NOT a victim. I came out on the other side and can say that things do get better. Life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. I think you all know that, but life is beautiful. Life is worth living. I’m twenty-five now, Bipolar, and sometimes a total fucking wreck. Now I know that despite all my flaws, I am deserving of love and happiness. I am worth it. I will never lose who I am again. It’s scary talking about your trauma and having people know what evil has happened to you. There is strength in acceptance, and there is strength in forgiveness. I am no longer a victim. I am a SURVIVOR.

You Can Talk About This Too

I covered suicide last month, so I thought maybe I should cover something else people like to ignore? Self-harm.

Most people who self-harm keep it a secret, which is what I did for a very long time. It’s more common than you’d think. Self-harm has this huge stigma around it, and it ends up hindering people from getting the help they need. I began self-harming in sixth grade. When people saw my cuts back then, they were anything but worried. I was the “emo” kid. Girls are mean when you’re that age, but these girls were cruel. These girls would tell me to “kill myself” or “slit my wrists.” For the rest of middle school, I made sure no one ever saw any cuts again.

The definition of Self-Harm is self-explanatory; it’s when someone intentionally hurts themselves. There are so many ways for someone to harm themselves; I’ve always stuck to sharp objects. Safety pin, knife, paperclip, thumbtack, etc. Some people burn themselves, pull out hair, pick their skin (I’ve started doing this). It’s not an easy thing to talk about, but I believe it’s necessary. People view Self-Harm as “attention-seeking” behavior. But really, it’s a cry for help. It’s a sign something deeper is going on there; they aren’t just “emo.”

It might be hard for you to understand why anyone would purposefully harm themselves, but I hope you have a little more understanding after reading this. I also ask that y’all read this with an open mind. I’ve never been this honest about my history with Self-Harm, but I think now is the right time.

When I tell people about my history with Self-Harm, they usually get wide-eyed and don’t know what to say. It’s hard to understand when you have never experienced it yourself. Most jump to the conclusion that it is all for attention, so they shrug it off and move on. People like that need to understand that this shouldn’t be ignored…ever. Self-Harm should ALWAYS be taken seriously; it’s not a joke. It’s a sign of emotional distress (not for attention). If ignored, it can turn into a dangerous cycle. For some, it even becomes a habit or a kind of ritual. Once the damage has been done, the guilt and shame start to come into play. Feeling this is normal.

I know what it’s like to wake up the next day with dried blood on my wrists. Then the cuts heal, and there’s this permanent reminder of what you did and what you were feeling then. How could one not feel shame? Or guilt? This is where that vicious cycle comes into play. You cut, then you feel guilty and you cut again. It’s not your fault (or mine), sometimes you need a release. I get it. Hurting yourself releases endorphins (pain-killer hormones). These endorphins that are released, are the reason I continued to cut myself. It was the only relief I had from my own mind. Those hormones do not last very long, which is why once you start…it’s hard to stop. You feel better until you don’t; thus beginning the vicious cycle again.

My Mom got remarried when I was in middle school. We packed up and left the only home I had ever really known. I had so much brewing inside me and I had no idea how to handle it. I remember the first time I ever hurt myself, I was in the bathroom at school. My depression was eating me from the inside out. I was sitting on the floor in that big bathroom stall, sobbing. I was fidgeting with the safety pin that was on my backpack and accidentally scraped my ankle. In that quick moment, I felt relief. I was so confused, but I wanted to feel more. So, I took the safety pin and began scratching my skin vigorously. The crying stopped. For that short moment, I had finally felt some form of happiness. Which was something I hadn’t felt in a long time. My life changed on the floor of that stall–I had started something that would haunt me for a long time. I have stopped and relapsed again and again over the years.

About three years ago, Tristan and I weren’t in a good place. I don’t even remember what started the argument. We had just gotten back from going downtown one night, so alcohol was involved. I spiraled. I usually spiral if I drink when I’m off my medication. Tristan ended up going to sleep, and my downward spiral continued. I remember getting a knife from the kitchen and going to the bathroom (the floor of course). I ended up cutting my leg three times, all deep enough to see my muscle tissue. Once I came to and saw what I did, I was scared. In the moment, you don’t realize what you’re doing.

I knew I needed stitches, but I knew what would have happened if I did. I’m terrified of ever being hospitalized, I don’t think it’s something that would ever help me. Which is why I did not want to go get stitches, I would’ve been put away. So after a looooooot of hydrogen peroxide, butterfly bandaids, and gauze–I just sat and stared at all the blood on the floor. I felt so much shame…so much sadness. I mutilated my body, again. I wore pants for a long time when I’d go out in public until I realized I shouldn’t hide them. People needed to see them. I needed to see them. Accepting my cuts and scars was the next step in my recovery.

I’m twenty-five now, and most of my Self-Harm scars are covered up with tattoos. My scars that remain (or are somewhat new), help me remember the place that I don’t want to get to again. Things are different today. I have a support system, I’m older, and I have a much better understanding of what I’m going through. I’ve accepted that this is a lifelong battle, but I’m committed to making it through. Over the years I’ve learned different coping techniques to subside the need to hurt myself. When I was younger, I’d take a pen and draw all over myself. My Dad hated it, but he had no idea why I was doing it. He just thought it looked bad. As I aged, my coping mechanisms have changed. Today when I feel the need to hurt myself, I usually go get a tattoo. But, we all know that shit is expensive. So when I’m not willing to spend the money, I do a few other things. Coloring, yoga, reading, and writing are all things that help me. It’s important to find what is best for you and stick to it.

I can’t promise there won’t be any bad times; no one can. Something I do know is that you deserve to be happy. Your mental health IS important, and it’s okay to struggle. Everyone struggles and I mean EVERYONE. Don’t feel shame in seeking help. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. You are the only one whose opinion matters.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with Self-Harm, I am praying for you. You are in my thoughts and I pray that you find healing. You are beautiful and you deserve the world.

You matter.

I matter.

Here are some Hotlines I recommend…

Crisis Text Line for Self-Harm: Text 741741

24 Hr Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK

Self-Injury Foundation Hotline: 1-800-334-HELP

When will it end?

I was first introduced to Rapid Cycling when I was twenty-one and deep into an addiction that would’ve killed me. It came back in 2020 when I moved back into my Mom’s. Rapid Cycling can develop in anyone who has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and it’s temporary for most. Rapid Cycling is when someone experiences four or more Manic or Depressive episodes in twelve months. These mood changes tend to happen quickly, either a few days or hours. Unfortunately, there’s usually no pattern when it comes to this. Rapid Cycling can be grueling, emotional, and scary. It’s more common in women…lucky me? Since it is temporary for most, I try to find solace that it is only temporary.

Rapid Cycling isn’t a diagnosis in itself. When someone gets stuck in this, it can take a great toll on them. The mood swings that you already get begin to get more intense and come more often. There’s a period of “remission” when your mood is neutral, which is what I call the calm before the storm. Sometimes, your symptoms can become too much. It can start to affect your everyday life more than your Bipolar Disorder always does. People who are experiencing Rapid Cycling are at a higher risk of being hospitalized or committing suicide. This vicious cycle of switching from low to high so quickly is scary. There’s just this little glimmer of hope in between. It’s the part where you’re just waiting for things to go to shit again. For that short moment, things are peaceful. Then it starts again. It can seem never-ending. Be glad and take comfort that it is only temporary.

When I was twenty-one, I was lost and hurting. Addiction had hooked its claws in me, and it wasn’t letting go. I had stopped taking my medication and would soon send myself into this rollercoaster ride. When I did my research before this, I read how Rapid Cycling tends to require hospitalization. My highs and lows had gotten so extreme that I was starting to get scared of myself. One night, I was strung out and stuck in this Manic state. I remember Tristan coming home and things just got progressively worse. Back then, Tristan had very little knowledge of what was happening to me. That night a switch flipped in my head, and I lost it. I don’t remember much of the in-between, but I do remember the beginning and the end. I got sent into a downward spiral of a mixed episode when he walked through the door. There was a lot of nonsense screaming and crying coming from me. The result was me sprinting down the street in an attempt to run onto highway six into oncoming traffic. Tristan stopped me. He threw my sweaty, barefoot ass in his car and took me home. This experience was traumatizing, for both of us. That night he gave me an ultimatum, and I chose him. I will always choose him. I quit my toxic job, got sober, and got back on my medications. My Rapid Cycling continued throughout the whole withdrawal process. One day I found myself so depressed that I could hardly function. I got in my car and googled “Mental Health Hospital”. Just thirty minutes later I found myself in the parking garage of a hospital downtown. I turned my phone off and cried. God, I cried so much. That day was so dark, I had become scared of myself. After what seemed like hours, I turned my phone back on and braced myself for the outside world. I ended up going home and spent a year getting myself balanced out. This time my Rapid Cycling lasted eight months. It took a lot of will to get through those months, but I did it. I came out on the other side. I fucking made it.

Rapid Cycling can occur at any time, and usually comes and goes depending on how well you manage your disorder. Rapid Cycling shows up in about ten to twenty percent of everyone who is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I know firsthand how physically and mentally exhausting this can be. There are a few different things you can do to help yourself cope and get through it.

Mood Tracking

  • By tracking your daily moods, you’ll start to understand what triggers you. I suggest buying a journal and keeping track of your mood swings. Get some colorful pens and make it fun. This helped me so much.

Talk Therapy

  • This helps you identify the issue and make a treatment plan. Therapy to me has always been a “no judgment zone”; which I think is something everyone needs. I’ve been going to therapy since I was young, and I really need to get back into it. Talk therapy has always been the best way for me to get my feelings out.

Rapid Cycling can make coping with work, life, and society extremely difficult. But knowing that there’s an end to the rollercoaster makes it a little easier to get through. When you’re going through this, you should be seeing your therapist and psychiatrist quite often. You should also always be transparent with them about how you are feeling. There are likely going to be adjustments made to your medication to manage the highs and lows accordingly. I took Lamogtrine when I was on the ride, and I’ve been prescribed it again to help with my depression right now. Anti-convulsants have proved to be best for treating Rapid Cycling. Now don’t forget that it takes some time for the medication to start helping. Psychotherapy has also proved to help. When you’re home, there are things you can do to help as well. Your therapist will be able to give you homework or exercises to help you cope. Always surround yourself with people you trust. It’s one of the best things that you can do. Having a support system will save you, I promise. There’s also no shame in getting help. No one should ever have to deal with this alone.

Although there is no known course, there are a few theories. I know how hard it can be, and I know how exhausted it can make you. Don’t forget that this is not a diagnosis; it shows how the course of Bipolar Disorder is experienced. You can use the fact that it is temporary to help ease your mind a little. Going from that extreme high to the depths of depression is brutal. If you think you are going through this, you should get with your doctor as soon as possible. I always think about the people who get stuck in Rapid Cycling but never come out of it. I couldn’t imagine, and I feel so lucky to have only had this temporarily. I know I say this often, but my inbox is always open. Don’t go through this shit alone. Find your people (or your person) and focus on your inner happiness. If you have any questions or want me to send you some coping mechanisms…you know where to go.

It’s Okay, You Can Talk About It

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is an often stigmatized topic to discuss, and most tend to avoid the subject. This month is a time to shift public perception, raise awareness, spread important information, and give hope to everyone affected by suicide. Were you aware that more women attempt suicide, but 78% of all people who die by suicide are male? Another fun statistic…twenty-five to fifty percent of those who have Bipolar attempt, while fifteen percent die by suicide. When a Mental Health condition goes by untreated, the risk for suicide gets greater. No one should ever feel shame coming forward and talking about what is going on inside. I apologize for anything I may say in this post that may trigger unwanted feelings and emotions. But, I have to talk about this. The world has to talk about this.

I want to start by providing you with two numbers that have helped so many people.

If you are struggling or know someone who’s struggling, here are two safe places for you to reach out to.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
And if you are not comfortable speaking on the phone, text “NAMI” to 741-741.

Although there are some at higher risk, everyone is susceptible to suicidal thoughts or actions. The suicide rate in the United States has increased thirty-five percent since 1999, and we lost more than 48,000 people in 2018. Forty-six percent of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed condition. This is the second leading cause of death of people ten to thirty-four years of age, and the tenth leading cause in the United States alone. Our country is lacking in proper and affordable Mental Health Care, something needs to change.

Someone told me not that long ago that my blog could be used against me, and I don’t doubt it. But does that mean I should delete it? Stop being open and honest? End this thing that has helped me and all of those who have visited? I can’t do that, and I won’t. Manic Mama will continue to be a safe space for me and anyone who is struggling. I began self-harming in seventh grade, and I first attempted suicide my freshman year of high school at just fourteen years old. I swallowed a bunch of pills and waited. My friend had a different idea, so she shoved her finger down my throat until I couldn’t throw up anymore. I never spoke about it, and I never told my family. I was ashamed of what I had done, and I didn’t want people to think it was for attention. Being a self-harmer, I’ve heard it all. I know some people view self-harm and suicide as attention-seeking actions. I didn’t need the gossip then, and I don’t need it now.

My scars from before the tattoo cover up

If you aren’t really sure what this month is about, please look into the NAMI. They work to ensure that everyone has access to the resources and help they need when dealing with Mental Health. I hope the rest of this post is beneficial to you all and helps bring more to light on this subject. I encourage everyone to come together and use their voice to advocate for Mental Health. I want to put some lists down about the warning signs of suicide, the risk factors, and what to include in your Crisis Plan. A Crisis Plan is something you create to share with your friends and family. This will help them know how best to help you in the case of an emergency. Thank you for coming to Manic Mama, you all have no idea how much it means to me to see people visiting. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of suicide
  • Substance use (drugs worsen the highs and the lows)
  • Intoxication (more than one in three of every suicide was under the influence)
  • Access to a firearm
  • Serious illness’s
  • Gender
  • History of trauma and abuse
  • Prolonged stress
  • Tragedy or loss
  • Mental Health problems
  • Having attempted suicide before
  • Family members or friends who have committed suicide

Warning Signs:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Aggression
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Reckless or impulsive behavior
  • Hoarding pills
  • Buying a gun
  • Tying up loose ends (a will, saying goodbyes)
  • Giving things away
  • Talking about dying
  • Suggesting they feel hopeless, worthless, or helpless
  • Saying things such as, “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want to get out”
  • Depression worsening
  • Losing interest in things they once loved
  • No sleep
  • Aggitated

What to include in your Crisis Plan:

  • #’s of Psychiatrist, Therapist, and any other healthcare provider
  • #’s of family or friends who could be helpful
  • Local Crisis #
  • Addresses to Crisis Centers that take walk-in’s
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  • Your personal address and #
  • The diagnosis
  • All medications you take
  • Previous relapses or suicide attempts
  • History of drug and alcohol use
  • Triggers
  • Things that have helped in the past
  • Mobile Crisis Unit #

Ninety percent of people who have died by suicide have experienced Mental Health Condition symptoms. There’s so much you can do in order to help those suffering. I will always preach that the best way to learn, is to DO YOUR RESEARCH. You can make a difference, even if you think you can’t. Volunteer in your community, and find ways to help those around you. If you are the one struggling, please know that you are NEVER alone. There are ways to get help, and I encourage everyone to seek help when needed. Please don’t ever feel shame for needing help! Seeking it makes you STRONG. If anyone is need of a friend or a ear, please make your way to my “Get in Touch” page. I would love to hear from you guys, and help in any way that I can.

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