Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, #2016 yet again snuffed out another bright star in the galaxy, but for many fans Carrie Fisher will live on in their own light. I will remember Carrie Fisher not only as the fierce, heroic Princess Leia in Star Wars, but also as a mental health advocate who spoke about her battle with Bipolar Disorder. I can tell you many of my mentally ill friends looked up to her and admired her, because she was one of us.
Fisher has been unusually outspoken for years about her mental health battles, something many fans mourned when Fisher died at age 60 on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack several days earlier on an airplane. The actress talked candidly about bipolar disorder and her treatments and how they affected her life. She acknowledged there was still a stigma when talking about mental health, but she wanted to help fight it.
“I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on,” Fisher told ABC News.
Source: Carrie Fisher, the inspiring mental health advocate: ‘I am mentally ill. . . . I am not ashamed of that’
My story is a little different. Though I am no longer ashamed about being diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder and having been hospitalized multiple times, I have felt shame and embarrassment about being so ill and disabled. I dislike feeling vulnerable and weak, and I also felt guilty and unworthy of sympathy. I was living in the Bay Area when I was first hospitalized, I was no longer able to work, and I soon ran out of money to pay for my health insurance and treatment. I didn’t want to go home so I borrowed money from my parents.
Continue reading “Because there’s no shame in being mentally ill”
This Christmas George Michael passed away. As if 2016 couldn’t get any worse. I was having dinner at Larsen’s Grill with my parents, brother and his wife, three aunties, and one uncle. We had just finished our appetizers. I had an oyster with a glass of Cabernet. Then, I hopped onto Facebook to see what was up. That’s how I found out. My brother couldn’t believe it either. He asked me if it was fake news. But it was all over Twitter, and I was able to find solid reporting on it. How tremendously sad. I grew up listening to George Michael.
What a crazy year this has been. There’s been good times with family and friends, positives in my life, which have balanced my depression. AND my parents are getting me a puppy, which I’ll get to take home in February. But even with all my blessings in life it hasn’t been enough lately. I’ve been having trouble sleeping and crying a lot since the election, so my psychiatrist started me on a new antidepressant, Abilify, which is actually classified as an anti-psychotic but is FDA-approved to treat bipolar depression. He thinks that I’m feeling more depressed now because I’m realizing that I need more in life. He said that I’m too smart to be as isolated as I am now. That what I have now is not enough for me anymore. I think he’s right. I am missing human connection. I feel like I deserve so much more and so much better. I want to be in love, to love and be loved.
I want somebody to love.
Celebrate George Michael with me.
After the election, I decided to do something to make me feel better and more empowered. I felt that I had failed because the wrong person won the election and as a result a lot of people will suffer. I felt that I had to do more, to take action in my own way that will make America better. Hillary said not to give up the fight and get involved in the community, that America is good because we are stronger together.
So, I joined a women’s club that does volunteer work in the community. I heard about it from my friend, who is the president of the club and involved in many community organizations in town. So far, I’ve only attended two meetings and done one service event. It’s truly been a learning experience. I hope to become more involved and do a service event once a week. On Thursday I spent a couple hours wrapping gifts that are going to homeless families.
Here’s a selfie with my friend who has been encouraging me to go out more and get involved. She’s a wonderful, positive, super social, compassionate, self-reliant, and strong woman, and I’m grateful to have her in my life. A couple Saturdays ago, I was supposed to help out with a tree building made out of canned food for a FoodShare, but by the time I got there they had already built the tree (because I was late!). So my friend decided to take me along with her plans that day. She was on a mission to keep me out of the house for as long as she could. At the end of the night, she bought me a glass of wine at a bar in downtown. I have developed a liking for Cabernet. It was one of the best days in my life this year.
Continue reading “Volunteering”
Last week I told my therapist that since the election I’ve felt helpless, powerless, and hopeless. When Hillary lost, I felt so sad, it really was like someone had died, and our hopes and dreams died with them. I felt like I hadn’t done enough to fight the tyranny of Donal Trump. I told my therapist that every morning I woke up thinking about my problems. Her advice to me was to think about the good things about me or the things I like about myself, and to think about the things I’m grateful for.
Well, today I’m grateful for my friends who answer my text messages and phone calls, chat with me on Facebook, and return my emails, and my generous friend who took me out last Saturday and bought me a glass of wine, who made me feel normal, who took me out of the house, out of a place that too often feels unsafe and oppressive. I’m grateful for the people who see me as a good writer and the one or two who look up to me as someone they can learn from, who can help them be better writers, and those who value my feedback. I’m grateful to those who actually listen to me and care about what I have to say.
Continue reading “Am I resilient?”