Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Celeste and I have Bipolar Type I. But that is just a part of who I am. I live in Oklahoma City with my husband, Nik, and our dog and cat, Dixie and Mia. I love cooking for friends, writing poetry, reading Southern literature, and fighting the patriarchy. I was born and raised in Mississippi and studied English at Mississippi University for Women. Growing up in the South had a vast impact on my life and personality. I am currently in graduate school at MUW for creative writing and I love it. My bipolar has always given me a sense of inspiration for writing, and I enjoy the self-expression of poetry.
How has mental illness affected your life?
I have struggled with my mental illness since I was fifteen years old. However, I was not diagnosed until my twenties. My illness has made my life both difficult and fulfilling. In high school, I would skip class to cry in the bathroom for no reason. I would feel elated afterwards and unable to stop talking. These were the signs of bipolar disorder.
When I finally went to college, my true troubles began. I became severely depressed and unable to participate in daily life. I would cut myself and binge on junk food in the bathroom. Yet, my bipolar fueled my creative side. I would feel, smell, and see things so intensely it would overcome me. Colors were brighter and food tasted sweeter. I felt things so deeply I would be over taken with emotion. These intentions would become problematic and affect all my relationships, friendships, grades, and just basic life. My first suicide attempt was in April 2008. Bipolar has made me a survivor.
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
I came across This is My Brave in an issue of Oprah magazine. I was so moved by these people sharing their stories of mental illness that I was inspired to share my own story. I had lived with shame for so long regarding my illness, despite friends and family telling me I had nothing to feel shame or be embarrassed about. I wanted to show my brave. And let people know that they aren’t alone in their mental illness struggles. I also wanted to share that mental illness is a true illness and a plague in some people’s lives despite what society tells us. My dream is to be an advocate for the mentally ill and help them overcome their everyday struggles.
What motivates you to stay mentally healthy?
I try my best to stay mentally healthy for my family and myself. I take my five medications every day, one in the morning and four at night. I have had family members question if this is healthy for me, but it is unhealthy for me to be off of them. Without them, I cannot function as a “normal” person. I can become depressed, suicidal, or severely manic and put others and myself in danger. So, I take my dog for long walks, take my meds, and stay on a regular sleep schedule in order to stay stable. I see my therapist once a week and my psychiatrist every four weeks to keep on track. I have to treat my mental illness like a real illness because it is.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
I hope the audience develops a better understanding of mental illness and the people it affects. I want people to leave with a sense of awe, empathy, and love for the people sharing their stories. There is so much stigma around mental illnesses in our society and across the world that shows like this are very much needed. People need to see the faces and hear the voices of those struggling with their everyday lives. I hope the audience feels like they can be brave as well.