Hi! My name is Virginia Gibb. I am 37 years old. I live with my loving husband, my husband’s elderly parents and our three beautiful children in Huntersville, North Carolina. I’m a stay at home Mom, as well as an independent designer for a custom jewelry company. When I have time, I enjoy writing poetry and children’s stories with the help of my daughter. I also love to draw, paint, sing and dream.
I have bipolar II disorder with rapid cycling and mixed moods, as well as generalized anxiety disorder. From time to time I’ve experienced OCD features as well, but it’s not a main component of my illness. By staying on meds, consistently going to therapy, as well as many other coping techniques, I am proud to say I am stable, happy and thriving.
From a young age, I always knew I was different. I knew I worried more, felt more intensely and was way more energetic than most. Even after a very traumatic childhood, I couldn’t understand why others didn’t see the euphoric beauty in everything around us. My head was always in the clouds. Thankfully, I didn’t experience depression until I was 21. A doctor attempted to prescribe medication for it. I was already apprehensive to begin with, but thanks to the stigma that surrounds mental illness, I chose not to treat it. I suffered in silence. As the years passed, this disease affected jobs, negatively affected personal and financial decisions and took a turn after my first child was born. Four days after the birth, all hell broke loose and I had my first hypomanic episode. I didn’t know what it was initially. After a misdiagnosis of severe postpartum depression and sleep deprivation, I was prescribed an antidepressant which helped me, but in the long run, made things more complicated as well, which continued with each child. I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder in 2012 after a weekend of multiple, possibly life-altering impulse decisions almost ended my marriage. Thankfully, no permanent damage has been done and we were able to work through it. But it was the catalyst to address my behavior, my decisions and implement necessary change.
But things wouldn’t be getting better. After my 3rd child was born, I crashed and burned, but hard. It was the worst time in my entire life. I thought it was tough after child #1, but I had no clue. I had an eight month hypomanic episode, severe postpartum depression and the manifestation of OCD features. With the support and love of friends and family, I recovered after 18 months. The experience taught me so much, and I am so thankful to the people in my life that have stood by me through thick and thin and have accepted and loved me. I am so grateful that I am here, still married (happily), functioning and not allowing the complexities of this illness to interfere with living a normal healthy life. I know it’s not easy, but I refuse to be defined by this disease. I refuse to allow it to destroy me or all I’ve created up to this point. I am determined to succeed and be an inspiration to people who are also battling this horrid disorder.
The most inspirational advice I’ve ever been given was from a Jamaican man I met out at a bar many, many years ago. I began talking about my struggles growing up as well as my past. He just cut me right off and said to me, “Girl, it’s not about where ya’ been. But about where ya’ goin’!” I’ll never forget it.