How I Found My Brave

We all want to be brave. To look strong and capable in our daily lives. To win our battles. To not be afraid.

But the truth is, mental illness is scary.

Its fiery claws can rip open your heart and make survival feel impossible.

I know because I’ve been there.

It may feel like a death sentence. But I’m here to tell you it isn’t.

It’s been almost eight years since I was first touched by mental illness. And for most of those years I hid from the fact that I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Part of me thought the best thing to do was to keep it a secret from everyone, even some of my closest friends.

I didn’t think they would understand and I was afraid they would think I was crazy if I told them about what I had been through.

But slowly, over time, I opened up. I told my friends about how I had spent a week barely sleeping yet somehow working non-stop while my husband was on a business trip, only to lose touch with reality and have to be hospitalized in a psych ward for three days.

That was just the first time. I experienced three more hospitalizations in the five years that followed my initial episode. It was the roughest, most debilitating roller coaster of my life thus far, and it took time for me to find stability again, with the support from my family and friends.

{Speaking of friends, not one of them turned away from me when they learned of my illness. In fact, I believe my openness and willingness to talk about what I’ve been through has only strengthened our relationships.}

Just this past April I began writing openly about living with bipolar disorder on my blog, BipolarMomLife.com. I decided I was done hiding. Having bipolar disorder is just one piece of who I am. It doesn’t define me as a person. I am so much more than this condition I live with and manage each and every day.

I am a wife. A mother. A daughter. A sister. A granddaughter. A niece. A cousin. An aunt. A friend. An employee. A room mom. A church member. A Sunday school teacher. A writer. A reader. A bubble bath-taker. A coffee lover. A {mostly} vegetarian. A chocoholic. A fan of music. A dancer. A car singer.

You know, the type that knows every word to every song and loves to sing no matter how bad of a singer she is. Yeah. That’s me.

I am the sum of all these beautiful, wonderful things.

I am NOT Bipolar.

I may have bipolar disorder, but it does not define me. I am defined by the people I surround myself with, the people who I love and who also love me for who I am. The ways I spend my time help to mold me into the person I am becoming.

I’m no longer fighting my illness. Instead, I’ve chosen to be brave in a different way.

I’m choosing to stand up and speak out about mental illness as an advocate in order to help others. By finding our brave, our strength within to open up, we will save lives. Because the more people talk about mental illness, the more people will realize that help is available and treatment is effective, and by encouraging society to be supportive of those suffering, we can help others out of the darkness.

 

I recently wrote a short, inspirational e-book called Find Your Brave {a manifesto}. It's yours free by signing up for show updates. Simply enter your email address into the "free e-book signup" form on the right.  
 Thank you so much for your support!