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Past Stories of Hope and Recovery

Sharon Peel

Q: When did you discover you were living with Bipolar Disorder?

A:I discovered that I was living with Bipolar Disorder II at age 30 in 2013 after being diagnosed, but I knew I suffered high’s and low’s all of my life which I thought was routine. There was never much ‘middle ground’ with myself. I knew I was different to others and I realised this when I looked in to bipolar disorder and I learned that I had some traits and signs of the condition but not all. I can now relate to others that are sufferers as their characteristics are similar to mine.

Q: Describe your support network and positive influences. 

A:My positive influences are the people that surround me and that matter most to me. My friend, soul mate and lover helped me become the person that I am today and for this I will be forever in his debt; I am eternally grateful. Without my nearest & dearest, I would not be where I am now. My support network is my Facebook page called ‘Me, Bipolar & I’ that has over 5,350 followers since October 2013 (without the help of FB ads) that is recognised and followed by IBPF!

Q: Describe the key to your triumphs. 

A:The key to my triumphs for example was running a fish & chip shop from 2002 – 2008. This was my drive and passion to not only succeed in life but to excel in what I do and continue to do.  I don’t do anything by halves, I never have nor will. Failing is not an option no matter how low I can get in a mood. I have been very productive in some of the darkest times of my life.

Q: What is your message of hope to others?

A: My message to others would be to never give up in life. If you feel extremely low and that you want to end it all then please read this: http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/ Try to see the good in every bad. If you are feeling down, think of what you can do to pick yourself up or talk to somebody. Things don’t happen for a reason, they happen because of a reason. Be inspired by small things, also take time out for yourself now and again. Smile and the world will smile with you. A winner never quits and a quitter never wins. Remember there is always somebody that cares about YOU.

Q: What is your favorite color and why?

A: My favourite colour is blue because it gives me a sense of calm. People may see it as being cold, but I see it as being an ‘earthly’ colour!

Dyane Leshin-Harwood

Q: When did you first learn of your diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder?

A: I had given birth to my second daughter, Marilla, at age thirty-seven.  Immediately after her birth I became hypomanic and experienced the rare condition of hypergraphia, which is compulsive writing. Two months later I had full-blown postpartum mania and admitted myself for hospitalization, where I was officially diagnosed with bipolar one disorder.

Q: Could you describe your support network, positive influences and how you find balance and stability?

A: A few years ago I founded the DBSA Chapter (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) for our county and I created a women’s support group.  It was there that I met two women with bipolar disorder who have become close friends. I also find support online through Facebook’s miscellaneous private bipolar groups and the Mental Health Bloggers network. BP (Bipolar) Magazine’s bloggers are a great resource. (www.bphope.com)  The International Bipolar Foundation’s Facebook page offers a newsfeed’s that shares inspiring pictures and quotes.  That really brightens my day!  I find balance and stability in five key ways: seeing my “team” (psychiatrist and counselor) regularly, medication, steady exercise, writing, and of course enough sleep! My goal this year is to improve my diet and try meditation.

Q: Who is your greatest inspiration and why?

A: My two daughters Avonlea, age 9, and Marilla, age 6. The love I feel for them is ineffable, and their unconditional love for me makes me want to be stable with bipolar more than anything. After all the trauma they’ve been through (I’ve been hospitalized five times for this illness since Marilla was born.) I am motivated to do all I can to show them that one can live well with this mood disorder.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: As a writer I can’t resist quoting my favorite author the late Madeleine L’Engle. I had the incredible experience of working with her at a writer’s workshop. It was impossible for me to choose just one quote, so here are two short ones: “Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.” This quote is from her best known work A Wrinkle In Time: “Don't try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.” Speaking of the mind, I love what author Melody Moezzi (Haldol and Hyacinths) said in her recent IBF webinar. While Melody asserted she didn’t want to glamorize bipolar, she noted, “There’s something extraordinary about a mind that works differently.”  

Q: What is your message of hope to others living with Bipolar Disorder?

A: The beautiful Peter Gabriel song “Don’t Give Up” comes to mind as I write this.  There were many times I wanted to give up.  I know this will sound like a cliché, but if you are feeling stuck and hopeless, please reach out to others.  Seek a therapist and/or psychiatrist.  My Dad always told me that by the time I was older, a cure would be found for bipolar.  Although that hasn’t happened yet, we shouldn’t rule out breakthroughs with the tremendous amount of research happening.  I was cynical about feeling hopeful regarding  my recovery for such a long time, but that finally shifted.  We can hope together for medical advancements, and in the meantime, do all you can to ask for help so you feel supported, not isolated. You don’t have to suffer needlessly - there is hope for each and every one of you!