Author: Kim Barnett
I was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder more than 17 years ago, in my early 20’s, and have suffered a lot of trauma from my various episodes. These traumatic episodes have inflicted damaging emotional and psychological scars. I’m learning now that these traumatic events are a part of my story, but I’m not defined by them. Through writing my blog, social media posts, talk therapy as well as medication management, I’m learning that these scars can be healed. It’s taking a lot of work on my part as well as time. Through all of this, I’ve found my purpose in life, and that has made all the difference in my healing process.
2020 has been one hell of a year, not only for me personally but for many people. On top of all of the major issues plaguing our society, I’ve had many personal battles to deal with as well. To name a few, I’ve had some health issues come up which are unrelated to my mental health, but have affected my mental well being. My own family has had some serious health obstacles as well. My relationship has been going through a transition, but I believe with work and therapy, we will come out stronger on the other side of it. I’ve also been dealing with my Hypomanic episode for almost 3 months. As of this week, my hypomanic episode has leveled off and come to a close. Thank God for that, as I do not know how much longer I could have lasted like that.
I have been working weekly with my therapist on the phone. Due to COVID, all of my therapy and Psychiatrist sessions have been virtual. At least we have that option, and the pandemic has shown just how important technology is. My therapist has been teaching me coping skills, in order to maintain some sort of sanity during these insane times. I’m naturally an energetic person and am a self-described “Energizer Bunny.” LOL! Specifically, these past few months of Hypomania, has been extremely trying on me and those closest to me. My therapist provided a list of 100 coping skills, that I could use when I’m stressed and/or anxious. I’ll be honest, and say that I only read the list once and didn’t look at it again. But thankfully I have a pretty good memory once I read something, and I still have the list if I need to look at it again. One of the methods of coping which has been helping me, is deep breathing and meditation. Like I said, I’m like the Energizer Bunny and sometimes I have a hard time calming down and even sitting down for any period of time. I tend to pace around the house and can’t sit still when I’m manic or hypomanic. I have many different tasks going on at the same time, and rarely complete any of them. When, I’m in this state, deep breathing/meditation is the only thing that will calm me down some. I like to practice this method of relaxation in my bedroom, which is mostly free of distraction. I lay in my bed and breath in and out deeply for 10-15 minutes at a time. It always seems to work, and afterward I am calm for about an hour or two. I repeated this process throughout my hypomania these past few months, and it helped me tremendously.
The scars I mentioned are extremely deep, and are going to take a lot of work to heal, both with therapy and with practicing what I’ve learned in our sessions. This blog, has truly given me an outlet to express what I am feeling sometimes. It’s very hard for me to talk about a lot of the traumatic experiences I’ve had, but in order to heal, I choose to write in hopes that the scars will diminish. Slowly they are healing, but it will probably take years to undue the damage that has been done.
As I said before, I will not let my past trauma define me as a person. Instead, I choose to learn from what I’ve experienced and attempt to grow from my mistakes and failures and turn them into something positive. I have had many years of experience with mental health challenges. Even as a child and teenager, prior to my Bipolar I diagnosis in my 20’s, I knew that my behaviors were not the norm. Knowing what I know now, I had many manic, hypomanic and depressive episodes way before I was diagnosed. I’m using these experiences and knowledge, to fuel my passion for mental health awareness. I believe this is my purpose in life, and that spreading awareness and helping others who struggle similarly is key to my healing process. My advice to those who are struggling like me, is to find what makes you happy and what fuels you to grow and create positive change. Not only within yourself, but within the world. For me, finding my purpose has made a positive impact on my life. I now feel there is hope, and I believe all can find that hope as well.