Sunday, July 28, 2013

Compassion is key!

Bipolar Isn't Easy

I wrote this yesterday for the Kissing Stigma Goodbye Facebook page , I thought it would be nice to share it on here as well!
Bipolar isn't easy, it's a struggle, a daily struggle! Bipolar is no walk in the park and I would never pretend that it is. Each of us experiences Bipolar differently, there is no cookie cutter version of what Bipolar is and how it presents itself. What is accurate across the board is that each of us experiences a struggle, the struggle of life with Bipolar Disorder. Each of us has an untold story consisting of the parts of our illness that we are ashamed of and each of us has a story that we have told to others. How much of that story that has been told varies from individual to individual. Keep telling that story, tell the good, tell the bad, tell the ugly. Tell all that you are willing to tell because the only way that we will ever fight stigma is by being truthful. Those of us living with Bipolar Disorder are fighters, we are survivors! Never be ashamed to say, this is what I've been through, this is what I'm going through now but I'm going to keep fighting, I'm not going to give up because I am a survivor and I am stronger than this illness! Your story is something to be proud of because you have overcome and made it to where you are today! Much love, Sara

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A long overdue update...

I know I haven’t really written much in quite some time, I apologize for that. I will make it a goal of mine to do some writing for the blog this weekend. 

Recently, I left my job working with the homeless population in DC. It was a job that I loved and I was working for an organization that I loved but the commute was wearing on me. On a good day, my commute was at least an hour and a half each way, most days it was a good bit longer and then I drove all over DC for my job. It was a bittersweet decision to leave that job.

I am really enjoying my new job and the flexibility in the schedule. I am working for a non-profit organization doing consumer quality improvement at the state psychiatric hospitals and the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Programs across the state of Maryland. I go into these organizations and talk to the consumers about what they like, what’s working, what needs improvement, any concerns they may have and so on. These concerns are all reported anonymously (unless permission is given otherwise) to the organization as well as at the state level to the Core Service Agents and Mental Hygiene Administration. We visit each organization 3-6 times per year and we have been able to elicit some great changes and improvements with organizations all across the state of Maryland. 

My new job is less than a mile away from home, it is incredible! I plan to start walking there when the temperatures start to die down a bit, it’s been too miserably hot recently to walk in dress clothes to work. I do travel across the state to visit organizations but that is not every day and I receive mileage reimbursement for all the miles that I do drive. I had been spending $120/week on gas when I was commuting to DC. Ending the DC commute has already proven to eliminate so much stress from my life. I feel so much more rested because I can sleep 2 hours later in the morning. I am so much less stressed and irritable because I’m not commuting so many hours a day and bringing work home with me so that I can beat the rush hour commute. I am grateful to have been given the chance to make this change which I feel has been able to improve the quality of my life and will continue to do so.

 My sister gave birth to a handsome little boy on July 3rd, he is 3 weeks old today! He is such a sweet little guy and I just love holding him and watching him sleep so peacefully. My older nephew is such a good big brother, it's so great!  Here is a pic of me and baby Ben on the day he was born and a pic of Ben and his fabulous big brother Connor.

Just before beginning my new job, I took a girls weekend trip to Ocean City! I had such an amazing time! It was such a great long weekend! I will post some pics from the weekend below!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

We too, have normal emotions just like you!

Here I am writing something for the first time in a while. I am sorry it has been so long, life has been keeping me busy. This probably won’t be too long but it is something I find important to address.
Those of us living with a mental illness go through the same regular day to day problems that the rest of the world goes through. We get down about the situations we have been dealt in life (not just the mental illness), the day to day stressors get to us, when things go wrong it gets to us, etc. Why do these things get to us? Not because we have a mental illness but because we are human just like everyone else. I found recently that when I was talking about some of life’s circumstances that have really got me down these days, people automatically attributed my depressed feelings to the fact that I have Bipolar. I took exception to this, wondering why people can’t see that I too am human and life gets to me just like everyone else. Just because I have Bipolar Disorder doesn’t mean that every time I am sad it is because of my illness. I have been feeling down because of life situations that I am unhappy with and feel trapped in and unable to fix. I have not been feeling down because I have Bipolar Disorder. In fact, my Bipolar Disorder is extremely well under control at this moment and it would be nice if people could recognize that instead of blame my bipolar for normal feelings I have about the way my life has gone.

Please don’t automatically assume that because an individual has a mental illness that all emotions and reactions outside of the realm of what is considered to be “normal” reactions are a result of that illness. Listen to what someone has to say and how they describe their emotions. You should hopefully be able to tell from what they’re saying if there are clear stressors in their life causing these feelings, indicating that it is not their mental illness or if there seems to be no real basis for the feelings, indicating it could be a chemical imbalance from their mental illness. If they are clearly explaining to you things in life that may be causing them the pain and stress they are dealing with, please do not discount those things by attributing how they are feeling to their illness. If you can’t tell for sure, please don’t automatically assume it is their mental illness causing these feelings. Think about how you have reacted to life’s stressors and when things haven’t gone right in the past (or presently). Individuals living with a mental illness have those same reactions so please don’t automatically attribute those reactions to our mental illness.

Yes, we have a mental illness, no it does not define us! Please don’t define us by our mental illness. Above all else, we are human beings, just like you!