Hello and happy new year. If this is the first time we’ve met, welcome! My name is Mandi and I am a champion of happiness, positivity, and self-love. I also live with mental illness, self-esteem issues, and trauma so sometimes it’s hard to practice what I preach.
I’ve always been a very sensitive and emotional person, to put it mildly. A few months before High School graduation I fell into a deep depression following a breakup. When it was clear this was more than just a teenager’s broken heart my parents brought me to see someone about getting help. I simply wasn’t coping.
I started seeing a psychiatrist regularly and, after months of trial and error with medications, he identified me as having Bipolar II Disorder. It took me completely by surprise. I didn’t know a whole lot about it but what I had heard seemed vastly different to what I was experiencing. I was in complete denial and frankly, I was humiliated. Reacting this way resulted in years of inconsistently taking my medication because I would start to feel “better” and therefore I “didn’t need it anymore.”
It took almost a decade for me to finally come to terms with being Bipolar. Once I accepted that this is just part of who I am, a HUGE weight was lifted and it was so much easier to talk about. Now I’m really good at oversharing. I’m no longer ashamed, in fact, I bring it up in conversation as easily as any other subject. As a result I often discover just how many people there are that have had similar experiences and I feel validated.
I have to credit the biggest part of being where I am today to my mental health care provider. I had previously seen two others over the years and always felt subtly shamed by them in some way. I can’t stress enough how important it was in my journey to find someone I trusted. It was all too easy to stay where I wasn’t comfortable because they were the professional and who was I to question them? Well, forget that. That is not the way to live with mental illness. Life is too short.
I’ve been with my gal for about 7 years now and having someone fighting in your corner makes all the difference in the world. She works with me, not just to treat the symptoms, but to figure out the best ways to support my overall health. This was the first time someone handed me the reins and made me responsible for my own mental health by including me in the decisions. It forces me to be more aware and to listen to my body and make adjustments.
I’m currently coming out of my holiday “downswing.” It’s typical for me to struggle this time of year. Christmas is over and the hype has receded. We’ve taken down the decorations and the house that’s bulging at the seams with kids and new toys seems strangely empty. The influencers I follow on social media for inspiration are setting goals for the coming year and reflecting on the year past. I desperately want to join in. However the high of the holiday season has now come full circle and mentally I’m withdrawn. It’s almost like my batteries start to run out.
When I’m going into a downswing I don’t immediately notice. I slowly get more tired and less motivated. I start to have trouble getting to sleep because I haven’t been active during the day. Then I want to sleep in or nap, perpetuating the cycle and making it harder to be an adult and a mom. I have varying intensities of ups and downs over the course of a year but the worst of them usually last only about a week or so before I start to round the bend and come back into the world. It’s at that point I become aware of how I’ve been feeling and can work toward consciously pulling myself even again. That’s the stage I’m at now. Shaking it off and waking up again. Able to fully participate with my family and not just go through the motions. I’m able to find joy in the little things, like baby giggles, the joy of an almost three year old when he completes a puzzle by himself and hugs from my preteen. When my husband and kiddos say I love you I feel it again, instead of just hearing it.
I was hesitant to write this particular post when my blog is only in its infancy but my gut is telling me this is where I needed to begin. I’m only sharing one part of the unique puzzle of my brain but, simply for time and relevance today, we’ll explore more pieces in the future.
I want to wrap this up on a positive note of course, so Pinterest to the rescue! I unfortunately don’t know the author but I couldn’t have said this better myself. “Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on the hard days you know that there are better ones coming.” The cloud has lifted and the birds are starting to sing again.
In my next post I’ll go into what I do to pull myself up by my bootstraps and, for lack of a better term, my “coping” mechanisms for the tough times. Also, keep an eye out for a post about the other side of the Bipolar spectrum; my experiences with hypomania. Life is quite a ride.
Until then, all the best. 🌹