I’m Here, I’m Me

It’s been quite a while since I have written, but in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’ve pushed myself to do so. I’ve been through a lot, in terms of my bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder since December of 2019 and, well, I have no end date, yet. Since March of 2020, I have either tried or increased/decreased doses of 9 medications, all to help regulate my mood and even out the hypomania and depression. I attended 2 different Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs from February of 2020 to June of 2020, then from July of 2020 to September of 2020. During this time, the medication trials were happening in conjunction with the programs.

I did not improve and then underwent 2 separate courses of TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), which I had done in 2016-2017. Unfortunately, I could not complete each course as each caused hypomanic states.

All of this happened while a pandemic took over all our lives. I was already going through something unimaginable and then it was as if there was a part II of something unimaginable occurring at the same time. I would be depressed for a week, then be in a mixed state with both depressed symptoms and hypomanic symptoms at the same time, then would be hypomanic for a couple of weeks. All of this while trying to keep things as sane as possible for my daughter, while having distance learning at home and then 10 weeks of summer vacation at home.

I had to take a break from my job in February of 2020, pre-pandemic, due to my illness and attendance in the IOPs. I was then, with all my fellow employees, placed on furlough, which continues today.

The last time my psychiatrist and I decided to try another new medication was in March of 2021 and that didn’t work out due to side effects, which happened with all of the prior trials. Since then, I have been maintaining myself on my current 5 psychiatric medications. It is difficult and we are ready to add a new medication if I become too depressed or hypomanic. It’s a medication I have not tried but it is known to help those with Bipolar II (me).

I still have zoom sessions with my therapist 5 times per week and we do some very difficult work together. We are a good team and she has helped me since the day I first met her in 2017. I see my psychiatrist every 2-4 weeks, depending on how I am doing, and we also work well together.

It’s difficult to be at home but I try to schedule things but often become overwhelmed by them and I don’t always follow through. I hope to return to work sometime in June but only 4 hours per week to start. I need to take things slowly and my manager is completely supportive of my needs. I am very lucky.

As difficult as the past year and a half has been, I am here and doing my best. It’s not always that great, but I’m learning a lot about myself that I never knew, or connected, in my work with my therapist and none of that is easy.

I’m not feeling terrible and I’m not feeling great and I never know when certain symptoms will show themselves, which is the hardest part of having bipolar disorder. I just thank God every day that I have my husband, our daughter, family, and amazing friends who always support me, no matter what state I am in.

All I can really say is:

I’m here, I’m me.



It is May 1st. To repeat, it is May 1st. Today begins a special month that highlights the struggle, stigma, information, stories and so much more regarding mental illness. It is a month full of education, personal journeys, pain and healing. It is one month. It lasts 31 days. It lasts for 744 hours. It is a special month and provides meaning not only for those who suffer from mental illness but for the family members and friends, co-workers and basically, society. It highlights the victories in science in creating new treatment models and it offers a space for personal stories of struggle, pain and health. It isan important month and I deeply believe in it.

I want to go deeper though. Those 31 days are just that, 31 days. In my life, 31 days can feel like a never-ending eternity or it can pass so quickly, I am in shock when the new month begins. When I was ill, my pain was never-ending just as was the time.

My struggle during Mental Health Awareness Month is that while I strongly believe in the extra social media posts, educational opportunities, web series and individual openness of one’s experience, I also struggle with the fact that this also occurs outside of May. One difference may be that people are more aware that there will be more buzz about mental illness during May, but the truth is, the buzz is everywhere all the time now. I think this is such an important and valid point to make. The current push for pediatricians to follow guidelines to screen kids for depression is an everyday affair at doctor’s offices, the woman who attends therapy twice per week to work on her anxiety and the man receiving ketamine infusions to alleviate his severe depression are all dealing with issues that abound not only daily but sometimes in an hour to hour basis.

One’s mental health is a constant. Anyone who has a mental illness deals with a minute by minute existence that does not revolve around a calendar. Mental illness does not begin or end just because it is May 1stand Mental Health Awareness Month has begun; it only continues.

My intention here is to highlight an important 744 hours during the year where there are many resources that are utilized to provide a voice to those with mental illness who may not have the ability to use their own. It is a month full of fundraisers for important organizations to continue their work to de-stigmatize mental illness and lobby political players to increase parity and availability of services. My family and I will participate in my local NAMI walk in a couple of weeks and we are proud to do so.

While I will blog, post pictures and quotes on social media during these 31 days, there is no substantial change to what I post in any given month. This is the point. I wish we did not need a special month to highlight the realities, struggles, political policies, treatment options, etc. when we should be doing this every month of the year.

My everyday life is all about my mental health. I start my days taking medications for my depression and anxiety. I have thoughts in response to these illnesses throughout my day. I may need to take Ativan if my anxiety reaches its peak which could be in reaction to almost anything happening. I see my therapist three days per week where I continuously deal with and work on me. I may put myself down for not making a connection to a customer at work and spin this in my head for hours. I may need to take an Ativan in the evening when my irritability soars. I may need to take deep breaths to calm my anxiety. I end each day taking my evening medications. This is every single day of my life. It is not merely in a bubble of time in the month of May. It is my always.

So, yes, let’s promote this very important month and do everything we need to do to affect others’ disinterest, misunderstandings and/or fears of mental illness, but, at the same time, let’s also ensure that people recognize that this is not merely a 31 day or 744-hour mission. This is life. This is certainly my life. This is not only about May for many of us; this is about our everyday existence. #EVERYDAYISMAY