A guest post from Mary: Almost Together

26 Jun

I connected with Mary through the power of blogging and social media, and am so excited to share her story with you today. She’s talking about her truth, and my hope is that you’ll listen.

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Hi all! My name is Mary Leaphart and Jennifer has been incredibly kind to let me share a bit of my story with you. I am 37 and a single mother to a 7-year-old rescue dog named KC. She is my baby as I do not have any non-furry kids! I taught high school math for about 11 years and now write curriculum, working mostly from home in order to maintain a lifestyle that helps keep my mental health in check.

See, when I was in college, my bipolar disorder showed up. It would be twenty years before I knew what to call it. But trust me; this disease did not need a name to wreak total havoc in my life. And even though I didn’t have a name for it yet I had a lot of labels I used to describe it – despair, self-loathing, euphoria, deceit, laziness, hopelessness, ecstasy, crazy…you get the picture. I could remember the strength, joy and fearlessness I had know as a child, but now all of a sudden I could not conjure it again, no matter how hard I tried. I thought I had lost myself forever.

I know I don’t have to tell you, but bipolar is brutal – it will rip your guts out, tear you to shreds, bring you to your knees and somehow convince you that you were the one to blame for it all. But of course, by the very nature of the disease it will also take me to some of the highest heights I could ever imagine. The blessing and the curse of my bipolar is that it is type 2 – meaning that my highs have never gotten high enough for me to do something to get hospitalized. Oh, but I fantasize about it – driving my car into a guardrail. Not enough to kill me, but just enough to give me a reason to lie in a hospital bed for months. A reason to not have to work so hard to live the life that everyone around me seems to manage so easily. A reason to get put in a hospital where someone might finally be able to “fix” me.

Of course, there is no fixing bipolar but there is a happy “ending” to this story. It started when a very wise, very dear friend of mine finally had the courage to look me in the eye and tell me that I needed real help. She brought me to her house for dinner and literally held my hand while I called my first therapist. I was terrified.

Finally, in 2007, I found the right doctor for me and got my diagnosis and began the long and painful journey to find the right medication for me. I spent the next two years swimming through a sea of medications trying to find just the right cocktail. It took time, and a great deal of hard work, but I did eventually find the right combination and most importantly, found an amazing therapist who I visit religiously every two weeks.

Throughout my journey with bipolar, I have always gone back to my music, my singing, as a way to help me cope. I connect with the music in a very deep way and am able to express feelings that I am not normally able to talk about in day to day conversations. Once I realized that, I discovered that I might have a very unique way to share my story.

And hence, Almost Together, was born. For the last year I have been putting together a cabaret show about my life with bipolar disorder. I use songs from all different eras and genres that have touched my soul and short monologues between to weave the story of my journey. This July, I am honored to be able to perform my show in the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, DC.

As I look back through history and see how change has happened, how stigmas have been removed, how stereotypes have been lifted – I see that most change came through simply talking. Talking about what matters most. And what matters most to me is survival – my ability to live a full and abundant life with bipolar disorder. And I want to share that story with everyone who needs to hear it.

If you are local to the area, I hope that you will be able to come to the show. I believe that it will be a show that resonates in some way with everyone and I also believe that it will be a true celebration of what life can be for each of us. You can find all the information you need about dates, locations and tickets at:

https://www.capitalfringe.org/festival-2013/shows/139-almost-together

I hope to meet many of you there and please feel free to connect with me before then – www.facebook.com/maryleaphart

Blessings and strength to each of you along your journey!

Mary

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Mary knows she still is, and always will be, on the road to recovery, but feels that she’s come so far in the last several years to realize that now is finally time to share her story in big way. She’s opening up about the truth – not the misconception, not the stigma, not the stereotype – but the raw truth of life with a mental illness.

I’m so thankful to have met Mary online and look forward to giving her a hug after one of her shows next month.  If you’re near DC, or are in the area in mid-July, I hope you will consider supporting Mary and the movement to end the stigma surrounding mental illness by attending her show.

 
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
 
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10 Responses to “A guest post from Mary: Almost Together”

  1. andrea July 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    How incredibly inspiring! And I wish I were closer to see the show!!

  2. BirthTouch.com (@KathyAMorelli) June 28, 2013 at 6:00 am #

    Hi Mary – thanks for this awesome story and I’m glad you are able to actively take part in your treatment and recovery. Kathy

  3. Hope Happens June 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Congratulations, Mary! What an exciting culmination of your hard work. And yet, it’s really only a beginning. For those of us not on either coast, it would be great to see this online someday. Break a leg and bring the house down!!! (Theater talk; not insults or curses. ;-) )

    Monica

    • Mary June 26, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      Thanks so much Monica! I am working on getting it filmed so I will hopefully be able to share it with those unable to attend. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. lanamhobbs June 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m also bipolar 2. I wish I could see your show! So you think you might release it for broader production??

    • Mary June 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      @lanamhobbs – thank you! I do sincerely hope that this is only the beginning for this show. I know that I need to share my story anywhere and everywhere I can, so stay tuned!

  5. Cristi @ Motherhood Unadorned June 26, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    The show looks so amazing! Wish I were in DC to see it. Break a leg! You are a rock star for fighting stigma!!

    • Mary June 26, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Cristi – thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! Hopefully you will be able to see the show one day!

  6. itwillneverhappen2me June 26, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    As always Jenn, your generosity of spirit and passion to erase the stigma attached to mental illness is inspiring. Thank you Mary for sharing your story. I would love to see your show if you ever bring it to the Seattle area.

    • Mary June 26, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

      @itwillneverhappen2me – Thanks for your encouragement! I certainly have big hopes for this show and would absolutely love to bring it to the West Coast! Stay tuned…

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