I have been wanting to write this post for a while now. Something would always stop me. I didn't have the energy, the kids kept me busy, dinner was burning, dinner wasn't on the table yet, my car needed gas, I didn't have the words, my hair wasn't right... I had a lot of excuses. There are a million reasons why I would ignore talking about my experiences with mental health. But mostly because if I didn't talk about it, it could still be that unreal thing that I ignore. That thing that no one wants to talk about or hear about. I'm not sure what it is about mental illness, but we are not ready to have those conversations.
Last week was mental health awareness week here in Canada. In the states they get the whole month. Its been four months today since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Some would say the longest four months of my life. I have learned a lot about myself, and I am lucky enough to have lithium work for me and not make all my hair fall out. I have been feeling the most "normal" I have every felt in my life. Two things I have learned. One is, no one is comfortable talking about bipolar. Two, I need to find people who do. And more than that, they need to understand. This illness is fucked and I don't think anyone can really get it unless they live it.
Here are some fun facts that might get the conversation going.
- 1 in 5 suffer from a mental illness.
- 60 million people suffer from bipolar.
- Bipolar is a miscommunication in parts of the brain. I was born with it.
- More than two-thirds of those with bipolar have one close relative with the illness.
- 25% of people with bipolar disorder will end their own life. That number jumps to 64% for those who go untreated.
- There is a 15% chance that one or both of my children are bipolar.
- Most patients face up to ten years of coping with symptoms before getting an accurate diagnosis. It was nearly twenty years for me.
These are kind of unsettling stats. I try not to think about it. Today was a good day, but I still feel so lost in the world. I try to focus on what I can control, like the slow sip of coffee in the morning. One moment at a time some days.
As always, thanks for listening.