THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE

It’s been awhile.
I haven’t been myself.
In fact if I’m perfectly honest I don’t think I’ve ever really been myself.

I’ve recently moved house, AGAIN, but this time back to the water, back to where I feel safe and it feels good. I’ve felt a clarity that has got my brain focused again, thinking about writing again (this blog post has been coming together for weeks now!) and it’s exciting. I feel about as close to the real me as I have in years.

It’s given me the strength and the opportunity to take the steps I need to follow my vision, my dream.

In June 2008, I was diagnosed with the brain disorder Bipolar Type 1, and it changed my life as I knew it forever.

I don’t like to use the term “mental illness”, I think it conjures up negative associations like movie style crazy psych wards and tragic news reports….. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about…. We all judge! I was guilty of judging too.

For those of you that don’t know what Bipolar is, and having knowingly lived with this for 6 years, it appears that many don’t. Bipolar Disorder is an illness.  It is a chemical imbalance that affects the normal functioning in the brain so that the person affected experiences extremes in moods. The person may be so affected they may experience symptoms of psychosis where they are unable to distinguish what is real.

And I won’t even go into the effects this condition has on conducting basic day to day tasks that you take for granted like cleaning, eating, budgeting and sleeping.. I’ll save that for another day.

Being diagnosed made me re-evaluate my entire lifestyle. I was forced to make massive changes in my life. And it wasn’t just about me, it affected my family too.

I had a choice, I could continue living the disruptive troubled life I had been (which was always normal to me, even though I always knew something wasn’t right) or I could make the changes necessary to try and live a functioning existence. I made the decision to be well.

This would require taking daily medication for the rest of my life, regular Psychiatric sessions, CognitiveBehavior Therapy sessions with a Psychologist, routine visits to my GP, blood tests to check my general health and blood levels, maintaining a strong support network  (or support scaffolding as the specialists call it! ) with family and friends and developing my own coping strategies.

And can I tell you, its hard work. It’s a full time job in itself. And it’s not easy, not just for me but for the loved ones in my life.

I found great healing in the creative work that I do. Fashion Styling, blogging, writing and working with the various publications and brands over the years and it has helped to soothe and calm my soul so to speak.

I have been lucky enough to work with some great people who were accepting of my condition and gave me the time and patience I needed when required.  But it hasn’t always been like that. And after many many years, I’ve realized that working for myself is definitely the best and healthiest option for me.

Managing relationships of any kind is very difficult for me as it can be very hard to be in my life. I am aware of this. But for those that have the compassion and patience to stay, know they have a very loving and loyal friend in me.

Having this illness, is not something I would wish on anyone. To try and function in society knowing that potentially my behavior or actions may cause grief or shock, scares the living shit out of me. But I work so hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. I guess this is why I tend to shy away from public outings at times if I’m feeling slightly fragile or agitated.  This is because I have no control over my actions or emotions and would hate for anything to happen that may embarrass myself, my loved ones or cause anguish to strangers that may not understand my condition or what is going on.

I’ve hidden this side of me for so long, to my detriment. I’ve “conformed” to fit in to make life easier – but for who?

Having bipolar is a curse, it is a thief that steals and never gives back. I’ve lost at least 10 years of my life. But it has also given me an insight and wisdom that I believe I wouldn’t have. My creativity and intensity has come from this illness and I wouldn’t give that back for a million years.

I’m not ashamed of who I am, so I’m not hiding it anymore.

I hope by opening up about living with this medical condition that I can educate about what it’s like day to day, the highs and lows of living with Bipolar Disorder. It’s more than just extreme mood swings, it’s more than just popping a few pills.

There is a lot of good and a lot of fabulousness that comes from this illness as well. Don’t get me wrong the lows can be very low and the highs are unbelievably hectic, but the “normal” – we don’t like that word, is also very unusual too and can be quite funny.

There’s going to be some changes coming soon to the blog and it’s going to include the same fabulous fashion and beauty I normally cover, introducing you to new brands, my day to day style etc… as well as my food and lifestyle reviews. But it’s also going to include what I get up to on a daily basis incorporating my health stuff – which as I’ve said, I’ve hidden this aspect for so long. For example, my therapy appointments, managing my medications, how my mood swings change and effect me etc… – just so you can see the work involved with managing a condition like mine.

It’s part of who I am. And I love that person. It’s made me who I am. And although it can be brutal at times and has caused me pain (and others) it’s a massive part of my life and I want to share it with you.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder:

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

http://www.sane.org/

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