This post was originally posted on another site last year, but has been taken down, so I thought I would post it here.
Oh yes I am very much aware of my mental health. I am very aware that I take a handful of meds each morning and evening in an attempt to maintain stable mental health. To stabilize the bipolar cycle, to boost the depression, to reduce the anxiety levels, to make the racing thoughts stop just enough so I can catch a few hours of slumber, yes, every morning and evening I am reminded of my mental health state; I mean, how could you forget?
Then there is YouTube. Just watch a video or two and you can be instantly reminded of what stability looks like and what happens when your stability becomes a stable stream of depression and negativity. The pros and sometimes maybe cons of being a blogger and logging the ups and downs in various media formats is that you can see yourself at your best and see yourself at your worst and then hope that the best will come again and the worst will fade away faster than it swooped on in.
In 2006, I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. With that diagnosis, I found hope. Why? Because there was actually a name for what I was feeling; thus resulting in a plan for treatment. There was a bright light at the end of that incredibly long dark tunnel I had been walking through for so long. I began to learn about the illness, took my medications as prescribed, joined support groups, and began writing about it. There I was, knee deep in Mental Health Awareness. I was aware of my own mental health and was learning all I could about how mentally “unhealthy” I was. This part is actually called “self-awareness.” Once I accepted that I had a mental illness and that there REALLY WAS a way to make me “mentally healthy,” the real hard work came. The real hard work is waking up everyday and following all your doctors instructions, keeping up with regular visits and adjusting your life so that you can live each day as close to “normal” as possible. And so I did; and this is what happened.
So, for several years, I lived “mentally healthy” and accomplished some great things. But, as those who have bipolar disorder know, cycles come and go. Some cycles last longer than others. Some of the longer lasting cycles are not always the stable “happy” cycles like we hope. Sometimes the dark cycles are the ones that last longer. Its not that you don’t try to get the cycle back on the upswing, but part of mental health is “self-awareness” and knowing when you are down, and knowing that when you are down, you can always come back up. Why? Because you have before. And the good thing about being a blogger and documenting everything, is that you can look back and see, and be reminded, that there is an “up.” That things CAN get better, they did before.
I think it should be called Mental Health EDUCATION month, because, lets face it, a majority of us that have mental illnesses are “aware” that we have them. Those that have them and are not diagnosed, well, this is the month that we are educating people about them and maybe they will recognize the symptoms and seek treatment. Those that do not have mental illnesses, well, this month is here to help educate you so that you better understand what your loved ones who do have mental illnesses experience and can be better equipped in dealing with them and even supporting them.
I know I am definitely “mentally aware” of what is going on with me, and yes, I am currently on a downswing, but the education that comes from so many different sources throughout this month helps my friends and family understand me, and even educates me on new treatments, studies, and better ways of self-care.
This video reminds me that even when you feel you are at the top, you can still cycle way down. You just need to believe and have faith that you can rise back up again. Because you can, and you will. I know I will. I have before.