In April 2015, I went to a health and wellness retreat sponsored by my college. I had signed up to attend several months prior because I knew I needed to start focusing on my own health and wellness, especially my mental health. I felt like I really needed some alone time away. It had been at least a year and a half since I had been away from home for more than a day, so I was really looking forward to the time by myself.
The drive to the retreat was about 2.5-3 hours long. I had a very small breakfast the morning I left for the retreat, and nothing for lunch as I waited in the hotel lobby for my room to get ready. By dinner time, I meant business because I was starving! I was hoping to get a table by myself so I could just eat then leave because I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone and be social. I had been depressed for several weeks prior, and I just didn’t have the energy for mingling yet. I just wanted to be alone. To my dismay, that was clearly not going to happen since every table had at least one person sitting at it. So I started looking for someone I could sit with, hoping I might have something in common with them other than the fact that we attended the same college. That’s when I spotted a woman who appeared to be around my age, and a younger one, probably a teenager I assumed, sitting together. They were talking, and I was about to completely intrude on their conversation. They both were so nice! They looked almost done with their meals though, and I was just ravenous at this point. I don’t know how well I hid how hungry I was but I think I mentioned that I hadn’t had any food since breakfast, in attempt to explain why I was shoveling food into my mouth. I was depressed but I didn’t want to appear to not have any manners in public. I wanted to talk but my stomach was screaming at me, Shut up and eat!
The dinner conversation was the most inspiring conversation I think I’ve ever had in my entire adult life. They informed me that they were there not as students but as speakers for mental health awareness, and overcoming the stigmas that mental health disorders often bring. That’s when I learned about Stigma Fighters. As I sat there listening to them both, I felt like I finally met a couple of women who might get me, or they could relate to my mental struggles at least. On top of that, they are doing something to bring awareness to this segment of the population that is largely overlooked, and made fun of. I’ve always admired people that try to make a difference.
I was really enjoying the company and the conversation because they were inspiring me to start facing my bipolar disorder instead of denying it, given my recent troubles at home. At the time of meeting them, I had been off my meds for almost a year. I went through a horrible break up, and I was really struggling with depression. I was in complete denial about my disorder as well. In fact, when I admitted my illness to them during dinner, that was the first time in almost a year that I even talked to anyone about having it. I hadn’t even talked about it on Facebook, and I talk about a lot of my struggles on my private Facebook page. But that was something I was hiding from all my friends. No one knew I was in denial and that I stopped my medicine. No one.
But now here I was, during dinner with two complete strangers, admitting I have bipolar disorder. That’s how comfortable and safe Sarah and Courtney made me feel. I felt my “secret” was safe with them. They were so open about their lives; honest, and empathetic to others going through their own battles. I wasn’t expecting to feel so inspired during that dinner.
I felt like I couldn’t write anything for SF until I did something to help myself first. I had nothing to write about except how worthless, useless, and hopeless I felt in every area of my life. If I wrote anything about “being bipolar”, I wanted others to feel inspired by it, like the women inspired me to accept myself, and the treatment I needed. So I delayed writing anything until I saw my Doctor again, and I mentally prepared myself for a repeat diagnosis that I was now ready to accept. I just couldn’t live the way I was any longer. My business was suffering, my school assignments weren’t getting done, and all I wanted to do was sleep all day. I couldn’t keep going like that.
When I came home from the retreat, I called to make the necessary appointments. It took a couple of weeks to be seen by my therapist, then a week later I saw my psychologist. I found out that my bipolar disorder diagnosis stands so I’ve started taking Latuda again, plus an anti-anxiety med. No more denial from me. I’ve only been on the medicine for 8 days now but I already feel better. My racing thoughts have stopped, and I’m able to sleep through the night without waking up multiple times. Another awesome thing I noticed is that I’m not getting all annoyed over stupid trivial things anymore, and I’m better able to focus on tasks that need to get done. It truly feels like this is a new start for me because I also just graduated from college, so I’m excited for the possibilities ahead now.
BIG HUGE THANK YOU to Sarah & Courtney for letting me sit at your table that night. I had no idea my life was about to finally get better.
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39 years young; own and operate my own business, Cp’s Hand Stamped Designs, which I am currently re-vamping with new stamps, pictures, displays, and other things. I just finished college earlier this month, earning my B.S. degree in Business Management & Economics. I waited late in life to get my education but that’s just the way the timing worked out. Besides stamping jewelry, I love to write in my journals, and I keep a secret blog that I’m hoping to start writing on again soon. I also like to go trail walking when the weather is nice, and I still rollerskate every now and again . What else…I’m single by choice, never married by choice, child-free by choice, just 2 fur-kids, Tiny & Roxy. I had 3 but my oldest passed away last autumn. I like all types of music except country and jazz, ew! I’m obsessed with The Walking Dead, Eminem, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, hence the “ew!”
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