The Day Before Tomorrow…

Tomorrow kicks off the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and I’m participating! I’m super nervous about trying to come up with a blog every single day, but I’m going to do my best to provide you guys with awesome bipolar related blog posts every day for the month of July. Here’s to me kicking some butt and helping do my part to erase the stigma of mental illness!

I feel so confident at this exact momemt, I mean, I’ve already got 5 blog topics titled and ready to be written, and I’ve read some of the ‘cheat sheets’ for how to blog on a tight schedule, so I’m hoping I can make this work!

Fingers crossed for me, and for everyone else who is participating in the UBC this month!

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.