art. inspiration. hope.

Turbulence Behind Tranquility

Why We Work to Raise Awareness and Why It's OK to Ask for Help

Just a little under 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with a very complicated mood disorder. Back then, no one talked about things like depression and anxiety, and they certainly did not discuss Bipolar Disorder in mixed company.

My illness, which had only recently been renamed bipolar disorder, from the previous label of manic depression, was perceived to be very scary, untreatable and more or less a life sentence that promised a life consisting only of heavy medication, loss of memory, lack of balance and coordination, weight gain and frequent hospitalizations.

But I was incredibly fortunate rather early on. While I certainly recall many moments of experiencing partnerships with “bad doctors,” quite early on I was blessed to partner with a team of specialists in both psychiatry and psychology that helped save my life a couple dozen times.

While I found my situation overwhelming and challenging for many years throughout my adult life, between my doctors, a solid support network and an unrelenting will to survive for my children, I’ve made it this far. 

In addition to the complications of being bipolar, I managed to pick up some tremendously bad coping strategies along the way. I’ve been a cutter. I’ve had periods of time where I wouldn’t eat/or ate too much, I’ve had to step away from jobs because of the stress, and I acquired the skill of numbing myself with wine. Lots of wine-or whatever made itself available at the time.

So this month as we at Divinemoira Studio use visual prompts to facilitate the conversation about breaking the stigma in getting proper medical help for mental health, I thought it was time I own up to my own personal struggles asking for help-no matter how badly I needed it.

I’m one of those people, probably much like yourself, that maintained an outer shell of superficial strength. I always said I was fine regardless of how I felt. 

I was raised to be strong, to fight my own battles and above all else , to persevere. This mentality has done me quite a bit of good overall. But after all these years, I realized I was leaning on the crutch of alcohol to get me through. And when the moments were really bad, when my brain was going haywire, alcohol made everything worse.

So as much as I did not want to admit it, I checked myself into the hospital. After that, I sought out intensive outpatient therapy. I immediately joined a 12-step support network. 

It was only because I felt I truly needed help that I could let go of my pride and somehow start again. 

My story may not be like yours. But my point is this: if you feel like you are overwhelmed by life: Just know that if you are having tough time, there are resources out there to help you get started