Tag Archives: bipolar disorder

On Hiring A New Therapist

2 Sep

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Change has always been a hard thing for me. When one season comes to an end, and another sweeps in to take its place, I usually need a good few weeks to adjust and settle in. Take this weekend, for example. I loved celebrating the end of August with our anniversary date night and the two days spent soaking up the end of summer at the pool with friends. But until we ease into our new school routine I’ll be fidgety and uncomfortable with the newness of it all.

Speaking of change, I had to break up with my therapist of five years because she stopped accepting my insurance and there was no way I’d be able to pay the regular office visit amount out of pocket. I’m sad about not seeing her again, and feel terrible about not having the chance to say goodbye at our last visit. But I guess that’s just the way life goes sometimes.

Tomorrow I’ll meet a new therapist who I’ll share details of my life with. It feels like the first day of school when everything is new and I’m excited and nervous at the same time for all the learning I know I’ll do while I’m there. I’m sure I won’t be able to cover my entire mental health history in our first visit. But in the event we do continue on after tomorrow, I have a few expectations for our sessions.

I hope she helps me figure my complicated self out.

I hope she challenges me to see things from a different perspective.

I hope she teaches me how to be more forgiving of myself.

I hope she realizes that just because for the past three years I’ve been a “high-functioning” bipolar 1 patient, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my symptoms on a regular basis.

I hope that we’ll hit it off and have a long-lasting patient-therapist relationship.

I know this is a tall order and I have high expectations for how this will work out. The truth is, we may not have chemistry and I may have to try several therapists before I find one who meets my needs. I’m prepared to do that if I need to. I’m prepared to work through change.

I believe I didn’t invest enough effort with my last therapist. I didn’t go to the appointments with something in mind to work on. It was more like going to monthly appointments where I sat and blabbed about myself and what I had been doing since I had last seen her. It didn’t do me much good. I didn’t grow the way I believe therapy should help a person grow.

This time I want things to be different. I’m ready to work this time.

The sun is setting on one season and will rise with the next. Bring it on. I’m ready.

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This Is How Big My Brave Is

6 May

Something incredible happened to me on Friday. I linked up with one of my favorite writers online, Lisa-Jo Baker, and her Five Minute Friday writing flash mob. The stars must have aligned for me the night before. Because her prompt last week couldn’t have been more perfect for what I was hoping to write about that morning: how my friend Natalie survived a suicide attempt a year ago and so bravely chose to live her life and tell her story to help others.

It was through Lisa-Jo’s post that I was introduced to the brilliant new single by Sara Bareilles, Brave:

I chatted with Natalie via Facetime on Friday morning and told her how awesome the song was, how excited I was that I got to write on the word Brave for my post, and how perfectly fitting it was to use as a dovetail into her own blog posts this weekend describing what she’s gone through over this past year.  We couldn’t have asked for a better anthem for Nat’s Alive Day Anniversary weekend.

She went skydiving on Saturday. Talk about brave!! So proud of you, Natalie. Keep it up, girl. You’re inspiring more people than you’ll ever know.

I downloaded Brave to my ipad mini and had it on repeat basically all weekend. Besides making me wish I had been a part of the music video, it also made me want to take action. The lyrics will do that to you. Trust me.

So I spoke up.

It was a shortlink to my post about deciding to come out and write openly about the fact that I’m living with bipolar disorder.

And then this happened:

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You may be squinting right now since my screenshot is so small. So I’ll just tell you.

Sara Bareilles re-tweeted my tweet to her 2,749,330 followers.

I may have let out a little “WHOOOOOOO!!!!” loud enough for our entire neighborhood to hear.

I was so flattered that she cared enough to share my tweet. She believed in my brave. Enough to share it with all. of. her. 2.7+ million fans.

And I thought that was pretty cool.

My household now has this song memorized, and I love that the kids have fun watching the video with me. We play it loud and sing along while dancing around the kitchen. I thought it was an appropriate time to share this post I wrote to them last year, which I edited a bit to use as my Listen To Your Mother audition piece in February.

~~~~~

Dear Mister Man and Sweet Pea,

I’ve been thinking about writing a letter like this to you two for a while now. These past four years with the two of you in our life, have been the best (and most challenging) years your Daddy and I have ever experienced. They have not passed without some terrifying ups and downs. When I say “ups,” I really mean mania. My year-long battle with depression was won before you both were born.

You see, your mommy has Bipolar Disorder.

It’s something I probably won’t explain to you until you are much older. You don’t see me take my medication every night, but you have been with me to see my psychiatrist. You both love the special toy box she brings out to keep you occupied while we talk, and now when I tell you “Mommy has to go see her doctor,” you always ask if you’ll get to play with her superheros. Last time I had to go “to the doctor” it was my gynecologist and she only had a plastic uterus to play with. Wasn’t as fun, was it?

Right now my illness is hidden from you, but there are times it creeps out. I may yell a little too loud, or in a nasty way with a scowl on my face. Maybe it’s just part of being a little worn out from the whole Stay-At-Home-Mom thing, juggling the demands of running a busy household, but I also believe that my occasional outbursts have something to do with my condition. My patience is so thin you could poke a hole through it with a feather. Not all the times, but sometimes.

Your Daddy and I have worked so hard together to manage this thing though. We’re beating it, he and I. We’re doing it together. He tolerates my moods and hugs and holds me when I need the extra love. And I know that the only way I stay balanced is by taking my meds, seeing my doctor and therapist, eating right, exercising regularly and most importantly, getting enough sleep. The occasional bubble bath doesn’t hurt either.

Whenever I do have one of my moments, I immediately feel full of regret. I wish I could go back to re-do what happened so that I could handle the situation differently, more lovingly. But I guess that’s kind of what parenting is all about; learning from our mistakes and doing things better next time. I’m always trying to do better, my loves.

It’s true, sometimes I fear that one (or both) of you could inherit my condition. If either of you end up fighting my fight, your Daddy and I know we’ll survive. In fact, we’ll do better than survive. In the years since I’ve been diagnosed I have built up a library of my personal notes and records of my treatments: things that worked and didn’t work for me. We’ll beat it because we have so many tools and resources to turn to in order to get you back to healthy. So my loves I tell you this: don’t worry your little hearts. Having a mental illness is not the end of the world. In fact, it just means you see the world differently than other people do. In some ways that isn’t always a bad thing. Some great artists have Bipolar Disorder. It brings out your creative side.

Regardless of what your future holds, please know that you both have made our family so much richer, even in the midst of learning to cope with something as complicated and intense and draining as a mental illness. I am so incredibly thankful that your Daddy and I took the leap we did to start our family. Looking at your precious smiles today, I couldn’t imagine life any other way.

Someday, when the time is right, we’ll have the talk. It’s hard for me to imagine that point in the future. I worry about how my revelation of my illness may affect you. Will it make you sad? Will you feel hurt that I waited to tell you? Will you be upset that I kept a blog about living with a mental illness in which I wrote about you? I guess I won’t know until we get there, but my hope is that someday when you’re old enough and we do talk about it, you’ll listen with open hearts.

I hope you’ll tell me that you’re proud of me. That you’re proud of me for not being ashamed of having Bipolar Disorder. That you’re proud of me for telling my story to help other people. That you’re proud of me for trying my hardest at being the best mom I could be.

Because I finally am brave enough to say: I have Bipolar and I am not perfect, but I am perfectly your mom. I hope someday when I tell you this, I see you both smiling back at me with pride.

I love you both to the moon and back.

xoxoxo

Mommy

~~~~~

“Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is”

~Sara Bareilles

I have a feeling that this song will become a huge catalyst for not only the fight against teenage bullying, but also the battle to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. Please share. Everyone deserves their own chance to be brave.

No regrets

14 Apr

DareToJump_BML Last week was pretty surreal.

The outpouring of support from my friends and family surrounded me by way of emails, phone calls, text messages and blog comments. From 8:30am until 10pm. All the conversations about my decision to go public with my illness made my heart swell with gratitude. So much gratitude.

But there were two people who were quietly sitting back at home, taking it all in. Without saying a word.

Glued to my computer, watching the discussions take place in real time before my eyes, I longed for their approval in some shape or form. I waited for their number and picture to show up on my phone. The hours flew by and all of a sudden I looked at the clock and realized the day was over. The call never came.

Sometimes when someone is silent, their message comes across loud and clear.

I knew that my choice of words describing their reaction to my diagnosis might have hurt them. But that wasn’t at all my intention. I only wanted to take my readers back to those moments when the shock of it all was still so raw for my family and I. After months of not seeing the light, the daze lifted to expose sheer exhaustion. We were all so worn out from the intense stress of trying to figure out what the hell was going on with me. So tired and drained – both physically and mentally – between the three of us we had cried so many tears that our eyes had nothing left to release, though we probably kept dabbing at them with wet tissues.

My mom and dad have a depth to their faith that I have yet to find. I admire that in them. I hope to some day reach that level of connection to God. They both prayed so hard during that year when we didn’t know what else to do or where else to go to help me get well. The days crept by so slowly. Tears fell continuously. They had already spent most of their time researching doctors, medications, treatments, alternative medicine, research studies. Anything that could potentially bring me back from the dark hole I had dropped into. Anything that could fix me. A miracle seemed so out of reach and yet they kept on reaching, kept on praying. Praying and reaching for me because I had lost my will to reach myself.

Whether they know it or not, every night I thank God that they had the strength to keep on praying because their prayers were answered.

I probably could have used a better word than “mortified” when I described my perceptions of how they felt about my mental illness diagnosis. That wasn’t fair. Fear and bewilderment probably would have been much better representations of their emotional state back then. They’ve wanted me to hold onto my anonymity because they worry about me the same way any parent worries about their child. I am an adult and I could have made the decision to blog openly about my illness a long time ago and I decided not to. But that changed recently. I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I don’t want to look back and have any regrets. I don’t want to wish I had done it earlier. I wasn’t able to do it before now. I wasn’t ready.

The fact is, parents will worry about their kids no matter what decisions they choose to make in life. That’s just the nature of being a parent. So whether I made the choice to go public and become an advocate as I did this week, or I remained anonymous in my attempt to inspire other people living with bipolar disorder through my writing, my parents would have kept on worrying about me, either way. It’s part of the job description when you’re hired on as a parent: perpetual worry. Just comes with the territory.

I’ve only been a parent for less than five years, but with many more years ahead of me, I can only imagine how much harder it gets. Thank you, Mom and Dad. Thank you for loving me unconditionally they way you both always have. Thank you for supporting me and for encouraging me to keep writing. And thank you for being there to listen. Even if you may not completely agree with my decision to take this leap.

I love you both so much.

My Time to Stand Up to Stigma

12 Apr

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“I’m ready to not be anonymous anymore.” I said, tensing up slightly at the sound of my voice.

Even as that statement came out of my mouth two months ago at my Listen To Your Mother DC audition, I didn’t yet fully believe what I was saying. I still saw the faces of my parents in my head, grimacing at the reverberations of my words. I sensed a dark hook pulling me back into my closet of shame. It took a trip to the opposite coast for a long weekend at a writers’ retreat a few weeks later to demonstrate to me why I no longer need to hide.

 

I think the shame stems from my upbringing. In fact, I know it does. My family culture taught me that we don’t air our dirty laundry. That we should never appear vulnerable for fear of appearing weak.

 

When I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in the spring of 2006, my Mom and I took long walks around the townhouse community where my husband and I lived at the time. She led me in praying the rosary. I followed along, because at the time I had no idea what else to do. At the time we grasped at whatever made us feel better. Or she did, at least. I was pretty numb from all the meds I took. And so I just repeated the prayers, over and over again, like the good little Catholic daughter I appeared to be. What she wanted me to be. Not her daughter who just found out she has a mental illness.

 

In going through treatment and therapy, I hid mainly, curled up in my closet of shame. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I had suffered two manic breaks, both of which hit me out of nowhere and forced me to spend almost a week in a psych ward to be brought back to reality. My hospitalizations were traumatic and harrowing, from the injections of anti-psychotics that I received, to the night I spent in the isolation room because I thought my roommate was a monster. I had no one to talk to about the torment it caused me. Only my closest three girlfriends knew that I had been grappling with a psychiatric illness. They were there for me, but only so much as they could be. So much went unsaid, for fear of feelings being hurt. My world had been rocked to the core, and my personality had crumbled in humiliation. Because of the sudden shock of it all, I experienced severe anxiety attacks and subsequently had to resign from a job which I loved and excelled at.

 

In the course of four months I had gone from the peak of my career as a rock-star recruiter, pulling in six figures at the tender age of twenty-six, to the darkest, most desolate time in my life. I felt so alone, despite the fact that my parents and husband were doing everything in their power to figure out what would get me well. They listened when I cried practically every day for nine months straight. My husband wrapped his strong loving arms around my frail body each and every night in bed so that I could turn off the racing thoughts and fall asleep to the sound of his steady heartbeat. I am forever grateful to them for staying positive and focusing on the end goal of getting me to see that it didn’t have to be this way. That life was worth living. Because I couldn’t see further than a step ahead of me back then.

 

We took things one day at a time in 2006, only consulting with our closest friends and family in the times when we needed extra help or advice. After several months of seeing and hearing me struggle with suicidal thoughts, my parents were desperate to find a doctor who could prescribe the right meds to bring their bubbly, confident, smart daughter back. She had all but disappeared and by this point they were ready to do anything to prevent me from taking my own life.

 

The thoughts of killing myself were only fleeting thoughts, bouncing in and out of my brain. My head was overflowing with chemicals from the drugs I was on, that I sometimes wondered if the thoughts were a product of my meds. The morbid curiosity I was struggling with made it tough for me to connect regular, day-to-day thoughts like, “I wonder what I should make for dinner tonight?” or “How many minutes do I want to sweat on the treadmill today?” In my messed up reality I felt like I didn’t have anything to live for anymore. A very selfish part of me thought my pain would magically disappear if I just swallowed a bottle of pills. It was as if I were trudging through thick, gooey mud in my depressed mind every day when all I longed for was the ability to return to normal.

 

By some miracle of God (or maybe my Mom’s rosary prayers were finally answered), my Dad was able to get me an appointment with the Chief of Psychiatry at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD, near where I lived. That meeting, on a warm October evening the day before Halloween, was a night I’ll never forget.

 

Dr. Post explained why Lithium was a good choice for me and that I should be open to giving it a try. He listened to my fears and addressed all of my concerns. He even gave us his notes from that meeting. I cried hard as I confessed my extreme grief at not being able to have children because I’d be taking Lithium for the rest of my life. Dr. Post assured me that this simply wasn’t the case. I would just have to work closely with my doctors before, during, and after the pregnancy and I could even stay on my medication – in fact, he strongly recommended that I do – since the risk of birth defects while on Lithium is so low. The benefits of staying on medication during the pregnancy and after, foregoing breastfeeding, greatly outweighed the risks of not taking the meds.

 

Within three months on my new medication, I began to feel my old self emerging like cheery daffodils poking through the cold, wet spring soil. But instead of opening up and telling our friends and family how happy we were that I was starting to feel better, my Mom kept praying on those  beads, and mouths were kept shut. The whispers shared between the family regarding my health continued, even as I began to surrender to my desire to share my feelings of what it was like living with a mental illness. The writer in me just wanted to be able to talk openly about how I was working hard to get well. I wanted to show the world that I had been through hell and back and I turned out okay. In fact, I was better than okay. I was ready to start writing my story. I started my blog, Bipolar Mom Life, but was gently encouraged by my family to keep my identity a secret, so as not to jeopardize future employment opportunities or my relationships with our neighbors or people in the community. And so for nearly two years I remained a prisoner of my parent’s mortification over the illness, complete with hands in cuffs and duct tape over my lips.

 

It’s been seven years since I was handed my admission into the club of mental health consumers. We’ve had two healthy kids and I’ve had two more hospitalizations, both times because I put my babies’ health before mine. They are my world, along with their Daddy. It only took me seven years and a few months from my first manic episode to figure out that I’m going to be okay. That I don’t have to hide anymore. That if I can help just one person by sharing my story then it’s worth it.

 

I’m ready to not be anonymous anymore.

 

I want to show my kids that it’s important to stand up for what they believe in. If not, then why are we here? I believe that having a mental illness should never stand in the way of anyone’s dreams. I believe we need to educate the world about the various types of mental illnesses so that more friends and family, co-workers and teachers can reach out to those who need help so that they can get the care they need. I believe in standing up, showing up, and writing my way through living with a mental illness. It does not define me as a person; it’s just one aspect of my life which has helped shape me into the person I’ve turned out to be. And I’m pretty damn proud of her.

 

Yesterday I took off the anonymous mask, and emerged from my closet of shame. My voice, my words, my story – they deserve to be told with my real name.

 

My time to stand up to stigma is now.

Kicking Bipolar’s Ass

5 Mar

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“She is bipolar.”

I cringe every time I hear these words, or see them typed out in print or online somewhere like I did today. You would never hear, “She is cancer.” Instead, after someone is cured of cancer you hear, “She BEAT cancer.”

That is so wonderful. I cheer along with everyone else when I read of someone’s victorious fight with the devil that is cancer. If you think about it, mental illness should be looked at the same way. I don’t want to be known as the woman who is bipolar and is married with two kids.

I didn’t ask for this condition, this heartbreaking, terrifying, complicated illness, to hit me at the age of twenty-seven when I was newly married and at the peak of my recruiting career.

And I am not my illness.

I am so much more than this condition I live with and manage each and every day.

I am a wife. A mother. A daughter. A sister. A granddaughter. A niece. A cousin. An aunt. A friend. An employee. A room mom. A church member.  A Sunday school teacher. A writer. A reader. A bubble bath-taker. A coffee lover. A vegetarian. A chocoholic. A fan of music. A dancer. A car singer.

You know, the type that knows every word to every song and loves to sing no matter how bad of a singer she is. Yeah. That’s me.

I am the sum of all these beautiful, wonderful things.

I am NOT Bipolar.

I may have bipolar disorder, but it does not define me. I am defined by the people I surround myself with, the people who I love and who also love me for who I am. The ways I spend my time help to mold me into the person I am becoming.

And I’m pretty happy with her. Most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of growing and learning to do. But I do think that I can be proud of how far I’ve come.

I turned 34 last month. I recently commented to my best friends how it seems like a third of our lives is gone already. They both reminded me that we’d have to live to 102 for that to be the case. Hey, it’s possible. But I guess they’re right. More than a third is done. Lived. In the books. {or, on the blog.}

Sometimes I wonder where all that time went.

I’m not sure, but I do know that I want to be able to say, for the rest of whatever time I have left, that I beat bipolar disorder. That I was an inspiration to others still fighting. And that I did my best.

I think I’m doing a decent job so far.

Thoughts for a friend getting help

23 Oct

I “met” Kim of Make Mommy Go Something Something online in the months following the launch of my blog. She had several years of experience under her belt, so I reached out to her for help and she responded immediately. We began chatting over email and even talked via Facetime a few times. Kim, like me, also has bipolar disorder. But hers is Bipolar II while mine is Bipolar I, meaning her moods tend to swing to the lower end of the spectrum and mine are the opposite – I tend to have higher mood swings to the extent of becoming manic if I do not get enough sleep. We connected right away, both being young moms who enjoyed blogging about the struggles we faced with our condition, our kids, and our home life.

Kim is such a cool person. So funny, smart and kind. I started joining in on her Secret Mommy-hood Confession Saturdays series, a fun link-up party on her blog that she created. With this part-time job (that I should be putting hours into right now, but I’m blogging instead – much more imortant right now than work, imo), I’ve lost touch with my friend. And I miss her.

She’s going through a lot right now. I know exactly what she’s going through and it’s gut-wrenching.

Reading that she recently entered the hospital to get help for the deep depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety she’s been battling of late takes me back to my last two hospitalizations. My heart breaks for her, but at the same time, I’m so incredibly proud of her for seeking the help that she knows in her own heart that she needs to get well. To be there for her husband and son. To feel human again.

I was there too. Those times were the lowest lows of my life. I missed out on almost two full week’s of my son’s life because I was so sick I needed medical intervention to bring me back to reality. And although I may not have wanted to go at the time, being forced into going to the hospital was just what I needed to re-start my life.

I got do-overs. I learned how to take care of myself so that I hopefully won’t have to go back to the hospital again. But, in the end, if I do have to go back at some point, I know from experience that it’s not the end of the world. It’s so that I can get well. And getting well and staying well are the most important things when you’re living with a mental illness.

Kim will get there. She’s getting her do-over right now. And I know in time she’ll be well because she’s doing what she needs to do, however hard it might be right now.

She inspires me. Not only her writing, but her personality and her sheer determination. She’s a true warrior.

Get well, my friend. Miss you and thinking of you every day. Sending love and hugs via the interwebs.

xoxo

Living with bipolar disorder

19 Oct

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about the fact that I am living with a mental illness. Not because I worry about what other people think of me, it’s not that at all. It’s because I have to constantly be taking the pulse of my mood so that I can manage my illness to the best of my ability. Over the last seven years I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

I like to describe my experience living with bipolar disorder as a scale of one to ten. A simple ten point scale tells so much for someone like me. Think of it this way: 1 = completely depressed, can’t get out of bed; 5 = in the middle, balanced (this is what I strive for every day); and 10 = completely manic, need hospital. I won’t lie, I like being in the 6-7 range, but when I do have those times when I creep up to the 8’s, I start to crumble. I know that when I get to 8, I need to make time for sleep or else I could tip over to 9 or 10 and that would be incredibly awful. Just because I’ve been there before. And now we have two kids and I would hate for them to see me in a manic state. Just as I would hate for them to see me depressed. But with my version of bipolar disorder, Bipolar I, my moods swing on the higher side of the scale versus the low side.

Nighttime is the hardest. The kids have been asleep for an hour and within that time I’ve cleaned up the kitchen and (of late) collapsed on the couch in front of my favorite show right now: XFactor. Some nights I am motivated enough to do a workout and then am filled with so much serotonin that it’s almost impossible to turn off the endorphins enough to sleep right afterwards.

I’m trying to curb my evening leftover work/facebook surfing/twitter gazing/blog stalking to a minimum so that I can hopefully join the 10pm bedtime club.

When I do climb into bed, I get super jealous of my husband who, within exactly two minutes of us shutting off the lights, is snoring away happily. I’m a different story. My eyes close, my breathing slows down, and I shift around until I get into a comfortable position to try to nod off. Thoughts pop up and a running to-do list keeps flashing before me. I’ve learned coping mechanisms over the years so now I am able to turn down those things and find sweet sleep. If ever an hour goes by and I am still not asleep, I know that I must pop a sleeping pill to help me get the zzz’s that I need.

I’ve just been thinking lately about how I live with this each and every day, and will for the rest of my life. Nothing I can’t handle, just thought my readers might be interested in knowing a little bit about what it feels like.

Mini book review: Perfect Chaos by Linea Johnson & Cinda Johnson

27 Aug
Book description from Amazon.com:
 
A dual memoir of a mother’s and daughter’s triumph over mental illness.
 
The Johnsons were a close and loving family living in the Seattle area – two parents, two incomes, two bright and accomplished daughters. They led busy lives filled with music lessons, college preparation, career demands, and laughter around the dinner table. Then the younger daughter, Linea, started experiencing crippling bouts of suicidal depression. Multiple trips to the psych ward resulted in a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and it took many trial runs of drugs and ultimately electroshock therapy to bring Linea back. But her family never gave up on her. And Linea never stopped trying to find her way back to them.
 
Perfect Chaos is the story of a mother and daughter’s journey through mental illness towards hope. From initial worrying symptoms to long sleepless nights to cross-country flights and the slow understanding and rebuilding of trust, Perfect Chaos tells Linea and Cinda’s harrowing and inspiring story, of an illness that they conquer together every day. It is the story of a daughter’s courage, a mother’s faith, and the love that carried them through the darkest times.

 

My mother-in-law recently heard Linea and Cinda Johnson’s interview on NPR. She was captivated by the story of a young woman (Linea) who, not unlike her daughter-in-law, had fought a brutal fight with bipolar disorder. (And is winning the battle, I might add.) The book is told by the teenager who rapidly cycles between major depression and extreme mania and her mother who is torn apart by the crippling feeling of being so many miles away from her daughter when she needs her most.

Being so moved by the interview, my sweet mother-in-law immediately ran out and bought the book. I received it this past Friday and devoured it in two days. (I would have read it faster, but you know, with two little ones running around demanding food and water at times, I had to take breaks.)

 

Was it tough to read at times? Yes. Did it remind me of my manic episodes and hospitalizations? Yes. Did it make me cringe when I read Cinda’s accounts of what she and her husband went through to figure out what was going on with their incredibly talented younger daughter because those are some of the same emotions that I’m sure ran through my parent’s minds as they struggled for understanding when I first got sick? YES.

 

But I loved it so much. It made me want to tell all my friends and family to go buy it right now and read it. Read it so you’ll understand what I went through. Read it so you will understand what my family was dealing with when I was sick. Read it so you’ll know what an incredible husband I was lucky enough to marry. Read it so that you’ll have a better understanding of mental illness. Please. Read it.

 

There were so many parts of the book that made me whisper, “it was that way for me, too,” and “her time in the hospital sounds just like how my time in the nuthouse went.”

 

Here is the review I wrote on Barns & Noble and GoodReads.com:

This book is an amazing recollection of the trauma and stress a family
goes through when their daughter is suffering from and is ultimately
diagnosed with a mental illness. It takes you day by day through their
raw emotions and fragile feelings, so much so, that you feel as though
you are right there with them, fighting as hard as they were to keep
Linea alive and stable. Their story hits home hard for me, as it is
strikingly similar to my own. Reading Cinda’s words was difficult for
me, as I couldn’t help but think that those were the same emotions and
fears that my own parents experienced when I was first hospitalized. I
related so strongly to Linea’s descriptions of what her mind was
thinking during her darkest times. I would recommend this book to
anyone, not just a family dealing with a family member who has a mental
illness. It provides an insightful education to a normal person on what
someone who lives with a mental illness goes through and how support
from friends and family can mean the difference between life and death.

 

I am so proud of them for standing up and telling their stories. It is a goal of mine to someday share my story too. Reading their book made me even more excited to finish mine. Linea’s story is so incredible to me because she is so brave.

 

I want to be brave like Linea. I want to bare my soul to the world someday because I want people to know that mental illness is real and sometimes scary, but that it is possible to be a successful, loving, fun, caring, and healthy person even when you have a diagnosis like bipolar disorder. A great mom, even. I am.

So. I signed up to attend a writer’s conference in November. I am thrilled. It’s going to be just the kick-in-the-ass I need to finally finish my manuscript so that I can query literary agents.

I’ll get there someday. I’ll attain my dream of becoming a published author. One step at a time.

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