Idk why, but I’m feeling the need to out myself & what better place than fb? I’m bipolar 1 & am having postpartum MANIA. I was so scared of ppd that I never even thought of this side. I’m in solution – my team is observing me – I just felt compelled to share. Anything is possible in this world. I wasn’t supposed to be able to have a baby at all. Yay God!
This was my Facebook status at 8:46am on September 5, 2011. Little did I know that a simple status update would change my life forever.
After my hospitalization 6 years ago, I shared about my mental illness openly. I was met with love and support from some and judgment, condemnation and scoffing from others. I was too raw to handle the negative so I retreated into silence.
Until I once again lost my mind.
I had no idea how my friends would respond to my admission, but I was scared of myself and needed others to know. What I got was a true eye-opener.
I love you, Courtney.
Been there. Im here if you need to talk.
You are one of the bravest people I know.
and the comments kept coming in.
One friend shared about breaking down and crying in her car when I was nearing the bottom of my suicidal depression. About how powerless she felt. About how proud of me she was and how frightening it was for her watching me fall apart.
My mom shared about what it was like for her when I was hospitalized.
Other friends shared their own experiences with mental illness mothers, brothers, sisters, themselves honestly and powerfully.
Then people started to share the intimate details of their own battles with mental health issues.
That status update was a domino. There was no turning back. I continued to share my journey on Facebook therapist house calls, med changes, psychiatrist visits, manic episodes, depression, OCD, carbohydrate cravings, fears and triumphs and I realized that being open and honest was healing me and others.
As my sanity started to come back, I felt like Id ripped off my clothes and had a choice to meekly put my clothes back on or embrace my nakedness for all its worth.
It was time to make some serious changes.
I asked my editor at the North Hollywood Patch if I could change the direction of my blog from political satire to mental health.
He said yes.
I solicited the International Bipolar Foundation to become one of their bloggers.
They said yes.
My first mental health blogs went into cyberspace last November and now I was out of the closet to not only those who knew me but anyone who cared to read about it.
Just like my Facebook outing, support flooded in, people started sharing their stories and I continued to heal.
I started a personal website BeePea.com and a video journal in early April.
Soon after came The BeePea Hive on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/BeePeaHive), a home for BeePeas and those affected by bipolar to have open discussions, share gratitude or whatever else is on our minds.
In late April, my first post went live on WebMD.
Needless to say, its been a whirlwind. Writing for WebMD has increased my readership tenfold and has given me the opportunity to work with an incredible editor, but has also put me on the firing line. Mental health is a controversial topic by nature and Ive gotten some comments and emails that turned my stomach and hurt my feelings.
Its easy to forget that a fragile human being with an active mental illness is writing the article your reading right now, but Im learning to walk through the pain of criticism, continue to write with integrity and focus on all the people Ive been able to help.
Like the email from the father who thanked me for helping him understand his son. Or the DMs from a woman who just needed someone to remind her that she was still on the planet and has now become a friend. Or the countless strangers who related to me and in turn helped me along my slow journey back to sanity.
My tears of gratitude far outweigh my tears of hurt feelings.
Its been 10 months since that status update. I love my son so much I fear my heart may burst. My husband and I just celebrated 9 years of marriage and are more in love as each day goes by. I no longer feel ashamed of being bipolar and I most certainly dont feel the need to hide.
Im still not stable. The emotional pain of the past year and a half could only be helped with huge love. Huge sharing. Huge courage.
You, my readers, have saved my life. Thank you.