Sorting through my feelings

I’m a bit down tonight, and haven’t quite figured out why. Things at home are going well, the kids are healthy, the husband is healthy, and I’m stable. My blog and facebook page are exceeding my wildest dreams for interest and participation from people. And maybe that’s what is tripping me up. I am terrified of failure, it’s why I so rarely step out of my comfort zone and try new things…but I’m petrified of success as well, and if I manage to create a successful blog, then wow!, that would mean I can do things and be successful, and trying to believe that would be a huge paradigm shift for me.

How do I overcome these feelings of inadequacy? It’s something I’m working on in therapy, but right now it’s got me tripped up. I’m looking at my blog and thinking to myself, “This doesn’t matter in the least to anyone, I’m not helping change the world view with my little blog.” Hell, I’m not even on the radar for changing the world view and helping decrease the stigma of bipolar disorder. But, and this is what my therapist keeps challenging me with…what if I’m wrong? What if there are actually people reading this and coming away feeling more hope, more power, or more edified? If you are one of those people, please…at least acknowledge it somewhere on my blog, lol. Rate a reaction, leave a comment, even become a subscriber because if I’ve impacted you, I’d love to know it.

Speaking of people who impact our lives, I think what’s got me down today is one of my best friends lost her daughter earlier this week. I’m just devastated over the pain my friend is going through and the fact that I can’t take it away. And she’s so intricately tied to my advocacy role for mental illness, because this is the friend that pushed and finally convinced me that what I had to say WAS important, and that my story could help somebody, somewhere. She said I had the power in me to not only write a great book, but to become a public speaker for the mentally ill, that I could proudly be a face for bipolar disorder. She inspired me so much that I started going to the NAMI groups, joined the NAMI board in my county, and I started taking classes to become a certified NAMI instructor.

She did so much for me in just that year’s time (we’re both so busy, we only manage to get together a couple times a year), and now when she needs help the most, I cant give it to her. I hate feeling so impotent and weak when there should be *something* I can do. I feel trapped and helpless watching her go through this loss.

If you’ve stuck around to this point and are of a prayerful sort, send out a prayer to my dear friend Tomi, that she may be comforted during this time of trial in her life, and I think you’ll be blessed for it.

I know this is my most rambling post yet, but I had some emotions I needed to sort through, and I want to share what I go through with the world so you too can see what the inner working of a bipolar patient’s mind looks like at times. Hopefully you weren’t bored to tears by this post, and hopefully I’ll be over this writer’s block soon and can start adding interesting posts again soon!

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Day One: Why Do I Blog About This Stuff?

So why am I so passionate about bipolar disorder and decreasing stigma? Why am I so active in NAMI and the AFSP? Why do I continuously blog and spread the word about this disorder and it’s far reaching consequences? The short answer is simple ‘Because I can.”, but the long answer is so much more than that.

As you know, I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and I’ve got 31 blogs that I need to come up with. I’ve written the beginning of my story before, and introduced myself, but I’m going to do it again here.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m Tricia and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about 8 years ago. Being bipolar cost me so many things, my job, my house, my kid, my family, that I hit rock bottom in 2005. I spent 6 weeks in a psychiatric ward trying to find some meaning in life and manage to carry on. I did find that meaning, kind of, by the time they released me, and I went to live with my parents.

This was the darkest time of my life, and I’ve blacked out so much about it. But as they say, the night is always darkest before the dawn, and my dawn came. It came in the form of New Year’s Eve that year. I sat reflecting on my year and decided that it had been the worst possible year ever, and that no matter what, I was going to make 2006 a much better year. And something magickal happened. When I woke up on New Year”s Day, the dark hole I’d had in my heart had closed some, and I could see a light at the end of the deep tunnel I was in. The next day I went and got a job working at a nearby call center. I contacted my daughter’s dad and informed him that I was going to start seeing my child again, whether he approved or not. I called my attorney to start seeing what my options were in dealing with the court system.

I made the decision to live again. It wasn’t easy, and there were so many setbacks, but I eventually pulled through. I’ve had other setbacks since 2006, I’ve been hospitalized 5 times since then, but I’ve always pulled myself up by my bootstraps and gotten back on the horse called Life. It helps that I met my husband in 2007 and he’s been the biggest and best support a woman could ask for. People with bipolar disorder do better when they have a stab;e family life and a good support system. I may not have many friends or feel that many people genuinely care about me, but I know my husband does, and it makes a huge difference in how well I do day-to-day.

So back to my original questions. I’m passionate about this topic because the best way for people to get help is to talk about what’s going on in their lives to their doctor and seek treatment. Even in this day and age, many are afraid to seek treatment because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. I blog and share my story to hopefully show people that we’re not all violent sociopaths who are shooting out schools or theatres. Most of us live normal, quiet everyday lives and go about our day as best we can. I’m involved with NAMI and the AFSP to give hope to those who are still in their darkest moments and need to see that the lights will come eventually.

I want to be a beacon of hope to all who struggle with mental illness, and if I can show people that I’m not ashamed of who I am, then they shouldn’t be either. We’ve just got to keep talking about mental illness. We’ve got to talk about suicide prevention. We’ve got to make it a topic that people don’t cringe away from and that people sweep under the rug because it’s too taboo. Once talking about mental illness is normalized, then maybe people will be more willing to seek treatment. Maybe more people will be willing to share their story like I’m doing. Maybe there will be more people like me, who with the right meds and a good therapist, live a semi-normal life.

I’ve never been the type of person to just sit on the sidelines and passively watch things go by. If I’ve been passionate about something, you are going to find me in the thick of things, trying to make changes and do what I can to help. And that’s really what this blog is about. It’s trying to help people. It’s also trying to help me, I use this blog as a therapeutic outlet just as much as I use it to educate people. I hope my blog is doing both things equally well.

What are you passionate about? Are there any organizations or causes that you’re involved in because of events in your life? Please share your story in the comments below.