Saturday, December 19, 2015

Graduation


This week I graduate.

My graduation is not the type you might normally think of, like a graduation from school, for example. But, I have been learning. I've been learning all sorts of things, like why I have not been feeling well for quite some time. I've been learning why I've felt paralyzed and locked inside my spinning, ruminating head. I've been learning why my chest often hurts and why I haven't had a solid night's sleep in as long as I can remember.

This week I graduate from DayBridge at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota.

This is one of those blog posts where my hands shake as I write because I am so nervous about what I want to tell you. Usually this is the effect on me when writing something very personal and when I am writing something that might affect the way you think about who I am as a human being. Right now, I am being 100% vulnerable. And I hope this vulnerability is worth it. 

I am fighting against this shaky feeling because I want to be courageous for other people out there who are like me. I want to be courageous for those of you who suffer in silence, feeling the painful effects of Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Mania and more. 


I am a Highly Functioning, Successful Adult who happens to have Bipolar I Disorder.

Bipolar is a mood disorder that affects approximately 5.5 million Americans. It is a tricky illness that can be difficult to treat, but when finding the proper medications and proper therapy, the prognosis is excellent.

For a long time I have been suffering in silence. Some people know that I have Bipolar, because I was originally diagnosed in 2004. But what almost no one knew was that, for the past few years, I've had some relapsing symptoms and, as best I could, I've hid my suffering. I've taken medications and never skipped a dose. So, I thought I was OK. But the truth is that sometimes we need to take a fresh look at our chronic health concerns and take a fresh approach.

DayBridge gave me the fresh approach I so desperately needed to get back to being my Best Self. A combination of new medications, new strategies and helpful techniques has open my eyes to how much better life can be for me. I've spent the past three weeks attending their Partial Hospitalization Program getting myself back to wellness. And now, even as I sit here with a pounding heart and nervous anticipation over what you might say about this "coming out" blog, I have the new-found confidence that DayBridge instilled in me so that I am willing to dispell the stigma that is attached to Mental Illness.

Makeitok.org has inspired me to share my story. On this website, sponsored by HealthPartners, TPT and more, you can find video testimonials of people in our community who have struggled with Mental Illness. You can find a cool video about comedian who also happens to have Bipolar Disorder. You can watch an inspiring video of a nurse who happens to have Depression.

The point is, we are not alone. There are millions of us who deal with Mental Illness and it is a normal human health condition, just like Diabetes. 1 in 4 adults will suffer from a major Mental Illness. To put it into perspective, that is roughly the same number of people who carry an iPhone.

I know that I take a huge risk in writing about my Mental Illness but I am choosing to share my Mental Health journey here for two reasons:


1. I want to be a resource for other humans who are currently suffering in silence with undiagnosed or untreated or un re-treated Mental Illness. 
2. I want to transform the stigma of Bipolar Disorder so that we can be free to support each other. 

I want your support, and I also want your acknowledgement that I am a happy, healthy, productive member of society. I am just right as I am. 


Thank you.
Susan







4 comments:

  1. YES.
    i heart you.
    -larry jess

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  2. (also, where's travis)

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  3. Congrats on your graduation day!! You are totally awesome!! (Kathy L.)

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  4. This takes real courage, Susan... and I admire you for it. Be well.

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