Maria Fernandez

Something I am Proud Of:

I thought I was going to get married to him, until I realized I was hypomanic and only in love with a dream. I thought my best friend would always be by my side, until she chose not to be, and died by suicide. I thought I had the independence everyone told me I could never have, a car, a job, an apartment, until I had my first mixed state episode, was diagnosed with Rapid Cycling Bipolar 2 and lost everything within 24 hours. I thought I couldn’t get up off the floor sobbing, reithing and shaking in pain, until suddenly, and very slowly, I did. I put on my shoes, and I ran. I ran and I ran and I ran. For 13.1 miles I violently cried, pounding the cement with all of the rage and the agony of all those 365 days. And as I let my body scream, as I let the fiery wind fill my lungs, I felt it all, every ounce of it, I faced it, and then, I crossed the finish line. I am proud of the feet that carried me when I didn’t know how to carry myself all those years ago, and I am proud of the girl who found the courage to feel, and then take just one more step.

Advice for Newly Diagnosed:

I would first read to them this. “It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you.That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something. Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam? That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for. It is my favorite Lord of the Rings quote and it has gotten me through a lot of pain. Simple but powerful! But on a practical level though, I would advise the following…
  • Hike a mountain. Scream into the wind. Fall on the earth and weep.
  • Get lost in a movie that makes you daydream, daydreams are the fairies of hope.
  • Find someone who has it worse than you and care for them, it’ll help you care for you.
And sometimes nothing works and everything is just miserable, and all I can say to that is to go hit a wall, grit your teeth and hang on. We are hanging right there with you.
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