Were You Really Sick?

Mental Health

I receive lots of emails.  Some of the most common questions I receive are: ”Were you really sick?”  “Did you really have bipolar disorder?”  “Maybe you think you were sick.”  “People don’t recover from mental illness.”  ”Do they????”

I understand people’s disbelief.  I haven’t met scores of people who have recovered from mental illness.  Many of the people I meet with mental illness are talking out their heads.  Walking with plastic grocery bags filled with nothing.  Wearing wool overcoats in 100 degree weather.  Taking cough syrup to sleep.  Drinking beer to survive.  Smoking cigarettes to calm their nerves.

The people I see with mental illness aren’t thriving like the ones I see in abilify and cymbalta commercials.

So I understand the doubt.

But I had bipolar disorder.

I had the highs and lows.  There were times when I felt on top of the world. I could do no wrong.  My mind was so powerful, magic, strong, one-of-a-kind.  It was wonderful.  No one had thoughts like mine.

I was manic.

And then there were lows.  The times I dreamed of dying. The times I believed only death would free me from my suffering.  The days I planned to have a child.  I needed someone who needed me to live.  I needed someone to live for.  Because the illness was killing me.

And then there were the voices.  The voices that caused me to sleep with the radio on.  The lights on.  The television on and with both eyes open.  The voices that made me drink vodka until they stopped.  The voices that left me alcohol poisoned.

I understand why people don’t think I wasn’t sick. Because I don’t talk about it.

I wasn’t always taking pictures smiling at the sun. I had sick days.  But I wasn’t taking pictures when I was sick.  I wasn’t blogging or writing.  I was just trying to hold on.

When I first recovered I didn’t want to talk about the time I was sick.  I would cry many times, because I would think of the pain it caused.  Sometimes when I talk about it today I cry.  It’s something I know I’ll never forget.

But I don’t want to give mental illness any more of my time or happiness.  I want to live. And I want others to do the same.  That’s why I blog.  That’s why I wrote the book.  I’m not out to con or deceive people.  I’m out to spread that word that recovery from mental illness is possible.  Especially if it’s caused by a hormone imbalance.

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