There’s more to me than bipolar disorder. I’m a wife, a stepmother, a dog mom, and a cat person. I love to write, read, and learn new things. I’m also a gamer – right now, I’m part of an epic Dungeons and Dragons campaign which is being run by my loving and ever-patient husband, Slye. After those things – and only after them – I have bipolar disorder. At 24, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and Borderline Personality Disorder. That was 20 years ago, and the journey continues. I still battle. Some days I feel like I am falling off a cliff. Still, I win because I’m still standing. Life can be worth living.
I find it painful to talk about myself. I’m just beginning to accept who I am. Somehow letting go of expectations, washing away all that caked on dirt…just…hurts. I know one day this will pass. Let me explain: I have bipolar disorder. I am bipolar. I am…bipolar disorder? This illness has become so ingrained in my identity. I first got ill at 14 back in 1999, and I can’t quite separate myself from being bipolar. It’s been over half my life now. I have a degree in classical voice performance, I’m a poet, a pianist, a composer, an artist…but first I am a person with bipolar disorder. I wanted to be the other things first. I wanted to be…I didn’t want to be this way. But that’s part of this project: to be bipolar and to be proud. To tell the world that I’m enough, that I’m fabulous, that I’m not afraid, that I can do anything, and that I don’t have to hide. Welcome to our club. It’s about all of us, and we’re ready to show you who we are. I will soon talk about myself, my whole self, without pain. I will talk about myself with pride.
Born in a small town in the Hoosier State, I grew up knowing I wasn’t like most of my friends. And my friends were well aware that I wasn’t like most of them too! I spent my youth as a vocalist, choir kid, cross country and track runner, achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, performed in over 30 musicals and plays, was both a journalist and editor for my high school newspaper and two local newspapers, was the Fine Arts Academic Team Captain, became President of my graduating class, and I always saved room for general mischief.
April 2016: A big part of graduating from my Alma mater, the University of Southern Indiana, required (finally) formally diagnosing and treating the ADHD-Inattentive Type that had plagued me since pre-school (it was just ADD back in the day.) Once diagnosed and treated there was no stopping the trail to graduation with a Bachelor of Science of Food and Nutrition: Health & Wellness.
Summer 2016: Troubling behaviours started to become glaringly more obvious: Anger, rage, depression with no bottom, and suicidal ideations that gained strength seemingly by the hour. I had to seek help, admit that I didn’t have all of the answers, or all of the strength to hold myself together. I was broken. I was brought back from the brink when I was diagnosed as Bipolar Type II comorbid with ADHD-Inattentive Type. I didn’t have any Bipolar friends, family to relate to, and I desperately needed someone whom I could share experiences with — someone who knew what being a known, treated Bipolar is like while I was just beginning to relearn and address my own emotions. So I turned to the world of podcasts, and I could not find a podcast that came close to fitting that bill for a freshly diagnosed Bipolar like me. Last year, 2020, I started that podcast for myself, and for the benefit(s) of young Bipolars, the Bipolar community, ADHD’ers, and the mental health community at-large. I always want y’all to know that you truly are not alone. I AM BIPOLAR. I AM ADHD. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
After decades of denying my illness, I was diagnosed with depression aged 30 and cyclothymia six years later. After receiving my diagnoses, I’ve worked hard to find more effective ways of managing my condition. I resisted seeking help in my 20s because of fears of what a diagnosis might do to my career, status and reputation. I’d seen others dismissed from the workplace when they were clearly exhibiting mental health issues. I was right to be wary. I’ve had job offers withdrawn following my medical. I’ve turned this pain into my passion as a mental health advocate.
I m a writer, photographer, and artist. Since well before my bipolar I disorder diagnosis at fifteen, I’ve channeled my experiences into art. After the manic episode that initiated me into the bipolar club, I spent high school in a depression haze. I eventually achieved stability which lasted through college. My senior year, I stopped taking my meds because “I didn’t need them anymore.” In 2014, this decision propelled me into a manic episode that reached psychotic levels. Nurses were fairies. Cops were fairies. I was a fairy. Everything was fairies. Oh, and I was also Queen Elizabeth the First. Since that episode, I have worked to maintain stability. In 2015, I started writing a memoir about my 2014 experiences called Episode: A Bipolar Journey, which I completed in January 2021. Ever since coming “out of the cabinet” on social media while manic in 2014, I’ve seen no point in trying to get back in. I am passionate about promoting healthy dialogue around bipolar disorder and mental health issues in general. I believe open communication and complete transparency are the only way we’ll break stigma down. I hope to reassure other bipolar bears that they have no reason to be ashamed and that they are capable of managing this disorder.
For work, I’m a medicolegal death investigator, harm reductionist, and a board member here for BipolarClubDX. I also have a bad habit of simultaneously starting multiple projects and businesses that end up falling to the wayside, but that just means I’m very much a “go big or stay home” personality.
In my personal life, I’m deaf, kind, and extremely passionate.
For fun, I’m a cemetery habitué because of my taphophilic interests, and I will always maintain that I am in love with love incarnate.
Also, I’m bipolar. And that’s not listed in any of the above groups because it doesn’t ever just fall into one subcategory of my life; it’s a huge part of me.