On July 17th, 2014 I came out about my illness publically by creating a Facebook page called “My Journey of Faith, Fitness and Mental Health.” I had been thinking about doing this for while. I would occasionally share about having Bipolar Disorder but I was still hesitant on how I would be perceived and how it would affect not only me but my family too. On December 17th, 2014 I decided to go even more public and share a part of my story on our local television NBC affiliate. Anyone who was watching at the time the segment aired would know my face, my name and my illness. I was scared when the story aired but knew it was something I had to and wanted to do.
In not sharing my story, I felt like I was denying someone to learn a big piece of my life story.
In not sharing my story, I was letting the disorder win and have a strong power over my life.
In not sharing my story, I was in avertedly telling others with mental illness that they too should shy away from sharing their own story.
I had to stop the crazy thinking and own this illness I had no control over receiving.
To own an illness that allowed me to see how strong I really am.
To own an illness that has, even within the last 8 months, opened up discussions I probably would have never had and relationships that may have ever been created or fostered because of the common thread we have of mental illness.
I want to live a life of transparency. Now, transparency may not be for everyone but for me it works. I have been told I am an open book and that makes me smile. I don’t want to seem pretentious or that I have it all together because I absolutely don’t. But you know what?
It is okay to not have it all together.
I want to share my experiences from amazing "ah ha" moments to moments of complete stupidity or failure. In sharing these moments I hope someone else may either learn something from it or realize they are not alone on this journey. I have no problem telling you that right behind the chair I am sitting in is a huge pile of clean albeit unfolded laundry that has been sitting there for over a week or that I suck at eating healthy whole foods and really like carbs and sweets. I have no problem telling you I busted out 8 consecutive running miles this past weekend #running4brave and I am darn proud of that accomplishment.
Let’s celebrate the times we are feeling good and gather around each other in times of frustration. Let’s encourage a parent who is walking through Target with a screaming 2 year old and if she needs it, help her as you know how stressful those moments can be. If someone honks at you for not pumping on the gas the second the light turns green, don’t assume they are jerks but rather that they are in the depths of a horrible situation and took it out on you. If you are having a bad day, tell a friend when they ask “how you are doing.” That doesn’t mean you need to go into full detail of what’s going on but let them know you need to be shown a little extra kindness during that day.
As a society if we were more transparent and less judgmental, I wonder if more lives would be saved from suicide. Yeah, the person next door doesn’t have it all together, so you don’t have to have to make it look like you do. I have bad days where I really want to escape to the one bedroom apartment I had before I got married, where it was just me and my thoughts. I have a girlfriend who knows what I am saying when I say “I am having an apartment moment right now” and she is quick to ask “what can I do to help you?”
Let’s be honest with our emotions not only with ourselves but with those around us. Let’s be a little more compassionate so others aren’t afraid of letting their guard down and being judged for doing so.
The countdown has begun! Only 23 days left until the big race! You can donate HERE, and there's still time to join the team if you want to run (or run/walk!) with us. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated and supported #running4brave and our mission of ending the stigma of mental illness through story-sharing.