By: Sarah Fader
I wrote a book with hidden words. You can read them, but I’ve been hiding how I feel from many people. It’s a book about level 37, cheese and donuts. I know that doesn’t make sense to you right now. These are words that I wish I could say to people I love or loved. They’re poems that represent how I feel as a woman living with Bipolar Disorder. My mental illness (whether I like it or not) has severely impacted my interpersonal relationships. I’ve said some harsh words, hurt people, and some of those individuals have injured my heart. I’ve been told that I’m “intense,” but I prefer the word “passionate.
Hidden words are the things I wish I could say, but I saved them for you. It’s my journal that I’m sharing with you. I’m donating the proceeds for the book to the International Bipolar Foundation. The book is dedicated to my dear friend Sibelius Russell, who also lives with Bipolar Disorder as does his son. I want this book to give you comfort that it’s hard to speak the truth sometimes.
When I found out I had Bipolar Disorder, I was devastated. I had all these misconceptions about what it meant to live with Bipolar Disorder. I thought “I’m going to lose my job,” and “I’m mentally unstable, or “I’m not going to be a good mom.” None of those things are true. My therapist at the time of my diagnosis told me “Sarah, I have Bipolar clients that are killing it at their jobs.” She said that the main thing was to be honest about your symptoms. I started facing what was making my life difficult and started writing about it. Sometimes labels can be helpful, and in this case I found knowing that I had Bipolar Disorder gave me a context for what I was feeling and why. I am grateful for the great mental health providers who helped me understand what was happening to me. It also cleared up a lot of my 20’s.
I’m still learning how to cope with mood swings and irritability. I’m learning the hypomania has its ups and downs (literally). I’m extremely productive when I’m in a hypomanic state, but I can get easily irritated, and I feel like things aren’t moving fast enough for me. When I’m depressed there’s no up side. I have difficulty showering or talking to my friends and family. It’s hard to get outside, even if the weather is gorgeous. Bipolar disorder is a rough ride sometimes, and I’m learning how to deal with it. There’s hope with the right medication cocktail and therapy. I’m figuring out how to have better boundaries and how to say “no,” when I can’t do something. Self care isn’t selfish.
I’m not alone in living with mental illness. I’ve found others who can share stories with me, and that makes me feel proud of who I am. I learn from listening and reading the stories of people who living with various mental illneses. Along with Allie Burke, I’m the co-founder of the mental health 501(c 3 nonprofit organization Stigma Fighters. We feature real people with living with mental illness on our website www.stigmafighters.com. We have four published anthologies of our essays called The Stigma Fighters Anthology Volumes 1-4. I understand the value of IBPF, and I want to support this wonderful organization.
I recently opened a publishing company dedicated to giving people with mental illness a chance to tell their stories in books. If you’re interested in sending a query, check us out.
Check out Hidden Words, and get a copy here.
Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Eliezer Tristan Publishing Company, where she is dedicated to sharing the words of authors who endure and survive trauma and mental illness. She is also the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, ADAA, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, GoodMenProject, TheMighty, ravishly, YourTango, and Good Day New York.
Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with Bipolar type II, OCD ADHD, and PTSD. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.
Sarah has accurately described herself as a mental health advocate, writer (with published books available on Amazon), and more. To link up with Sarah, you can find her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or FaceBook.