Am I Qualified To Give You Advice??

What do you think? Am I qualified to give anyone advice about mental health? In short, probably not.

I don’t have a degree in mental health counseling and I’m not a doctor. This, you already know. And yet, I get messages every single day asking for help. And I answer every single one!

While I may not be the most qualified, I do have a TON of personal experience with my own mental health as well as experience in helping some friends through depressive episodes and anxiety attacks.

After going to therapy for four years, seeing a psychiatrist, and dealing with severe mental health issues, I’ve sort of come out the other side. I’m in no way perfect, but I am much much better than I used to be. I think that qualifies me a little bit to give advice to people dealing with issues similar to what I’ve dealt with!

As long as people know I’m not a professional and they’re okay with that, I think it’s okay for them to take advice from me. As someone who is currently doing very well and is living with a clear and focused mind, I can give sound advice on many topics relating to mental health.

I want to be that friend everyone needs. Their shoulder to cry on and someone to build them back up when they’re down. I think that’s my main point in saying all of this.

I want to be the support you need in your life that you may not have from family or friends. It’s because I get it. I didn’t tell anyone I was struggling for years. If I had had someone to message, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone. Maybe I would have been able to get help sooner.

That’s why I started my Instagram page in the first place. To help! I’m just here to help. So if you’re struggling, message me. If you overcame something huge, or even something not that huge, message me. I want to hear about it! I want to be a cheerleader you can always count on when not everyone else is available.

I do it because I wish I’d had it. I do it because you deserve it. Xo

Self Esteem 101 (For Someone Living With A Mental Illness)

My self esteem has always been a little bit all over the place. From a young age, I was very self conscious about the shape of my body, being a little taller than the other girls in school, and never having that super skinny body.

Unfortunately, I didn’t deal with it in the best way as I grew up. I would binge eat like you wouldn’t believe, and then starve myself for days while working out excessively. I even went to a nutritionist, who was amazing, but didn’t understand what I was going through. She told me I didn’t have an eating disorder. I was later diagnosed by my current psychiatrist.

Now, I don’t binge, I don’t starve myself, and I try to eat healthily most of the time. And the photos you see above? That’s what my body looks like now- that’s where it’s settled after constantly being above and below that weight for years.

While I’m not thrilled with the way I look, I am learning to love myself where I am now, while still trying to get into better shape. I think that’s the biggest lesson. You can love yourself wherever you are right now, while still trying to change and better yourself in whatever way that may be. That’s true self love.

I went to the beach for Labor Day and rocked that bikini, although I usually go for high waisted swimsuits or one pieces. I tried all day to not be self conscious, but I still found that I was. Was this a failure? No way. It’s because I tried something new, took a risk, and tried my best to live my life without fear. Even though I wasn’t completely confident, wearing a bikini at my size (10-14, depending on the store) was never something I would have done last year. So I know that I’m taking steps forward, and I’m really proud of that.

My advice to anyone who wants to be more confident is to take small steps forward every day. Get to know your body and don’t be afraid of it. Seek out help for an eating disorder if you have one or think you might, and then go from there. If you deal with anxiety, and let’s say you only are comfortable in one pieces but want to wear a bikini, wear something with a high waist. Just work up to two pieces. I think you get what I’m saying. If you’re afraid of certain foods, don’t force yourself to eat them all in one day. Go one at a time. If you want to stop counting calories, do it gradually. The list goes on and on.

The thing is, we are not the problem. Society and the constant telling of consumers that we’re not good enough is the problem. We ARE good enough. You are beautiful. You are worthy. If you just remember these things, you begin to see that you don’t have to look like a stereotypical supermodel to be considered pretty. And also that there are more important things than being pretty! Focusing on your passions, your intelligence, your drive, your compassion….these are the things that make up who you are. It really has nothing to do with what you look like.

But of course, we always worry about our appearance. And it’s okay to want to look “good,” whatever that means to you. Just be gentle with yourself, and always remember that you are already perfect, just the way you are.

The Effect of Bipolar on Friendships: My Story

bipolar friendships

Not everyone is equipped to befriend someone with a severe mental illness such as Bipolar. For some people, it’s just too much. It took me a long time to understand this-the fact that something entirely out of my control could be a reason for someone not to be friends with me. But when you find friends who love you for you, you will never feel alone.

When I was diagnosed at the age of 19, I didn’t consider any of this. But then I lost a few friends. No one tells you that when you’re first diagnosed, you’re going to be put on a lot of different medications and you may act different than your normal self. You may become manic or depressed due to a medicine that doesn’t work for you. Or maybe you’ll even just want to talk about your mental illness with your friends, because it’s new to you and you just need to get it out. All of this is totally normal.

However, it will show you who your real friends are. There are plenty of people who distanced themselves from me after my diagnosis. I wanted to talk about it! I was confused, but also relieved that finally my moods had a name. But they didn’t want to deal with my new exhaustion that I dealt with from mood stabilizers. I didn’t realize that I had to take them at night in the beginning of my journey (because of side effects of drowsiness,) so I would get tired when we went out at night. Some people also felt embarrassed by my random spurts of energy, that turned out to not be so random.

A while after being diagnosed, I had decided to go off my meds. My friends were there for me the entire week I decided to go out every day and night and skip my classes, but not many of them checked in on me the following week when I slept for 5 days straight.

Another time, I had an episode of suicidal ideation in freshman year, before being diagnosed, and my best friend from college at the time went behind my back and told everyone I was crazy. Instead, maybe this person could have talked to me and suggested I speak to a counselor.

I mean, this is college. I get it. Not everyone’s going to be your lifelong best friend, and not everyone’s going to be there for you all of the time. Also, not everyone knows what mental illness looks like, so they don’t know how to handle it. I understand that, and I have no ill feelings toward any of the people I’m thinking about when writing this post. I wish them well and I understand that my moods were too much for them.

But those people made me especially grateful for the friends who did stick around. The friends who never judged, and always tried to understand when I acted differently from my normal self. Those people do exist. And now that I’ve found the right combination of medication? I’m a completely calm person for the majority of the time. And these friends have been with me through it all. I have to give a shoutout to my best friends since high school, Miranda and Erin. They’ve always been there for me through every up and down and I love them for it.

Of course, it’s not a one way street. With any friend, I understand that my mental illness is not an excuse, and that I still have to be an exceptional friend, in order to expect that kind of love back. But I think feeling so much has allowed me to be extremely empathetic, kind, and supportive, because that’s what I want in return!

Here’s what mentally ill people want you to know: We’re not crazy. We have our ups and downs like everyone else, they just might be a little more extreme. Our problems might look a little different than your problems. But all we really want is to love and laugh and have fun with our friends. Like any non-mentally ill person. In that respect, humans are all the same. We just want to love and be loved. So please, be patient with us. Don’t be too upset if we slip up and say something we don’t mean. And most importantly, tell us if our problems ever become your problems. We will understand if you need some space every once in a while.

My other main point is not to compromise your values, ever. Just because you have a mental illness does not mean that you’re not worthy of amazing, lasting friendships. I still go by the rule, treat people how you want to be treated. As long as you do your best and communicate well with your friends, you should be good to go.

Xo

Pursuing Passions Outside Of Mental Health

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Me as a makeup artist!

 

After being diagnosed with a mental health condition, it can feel like it’s consuming your entire life and that the illness is just who you are now. But this is not the case.

When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorder, I felt that it defined me. I was Bipolar. I was not a person LIVING with Bipolar. It was my whole life. I just didn’t really know how to continue on with my life. I felt that I either had to let it completely consume me, or I had to just pretend that the diagnosis just didn’t exist.

So I juggled between the two. With some people, who I was comfortable with, I was mentally ill and that was it. But with most people, I was still me! I didn’t even mention it. They couldn’t know about my Bipolar “alter ego”. This was exhausting to keep up. It was like I was living a double life, and not in the fun Hannah Montana sort of way. It was just a mess. I would blow up out of nowhere when people weren’t extremely accepting of my new diagnosis. Obviously, it takes family members a minute to get used to news like a new diagnosis, but when they didn’t understand right away, I freaked out because it felt like they weren’t accepting me as a whole.

Recently, I’ve learned how to be myself and have my illnesses there as a part of me, but not as my entire being. They no longer define me, and finally, I’m able to enjoy things outside of mental illness. I know this is much healthier than how I used to live. I know my blog is all about mental illness, but I have so many hobbies outside of this as well!

There’s a path by my local beach that I LOVE to go walk on with friends. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Then there’s my brunch habit, LOL. Every Sunday, I love going to brunch, getting a spicy Bloody Mary, and then shopping my worries away in our cute little town. This weekend I actually bought the cutest summer to fall romper I’ve ever seen in my life. And it was on sale!! It’s really the little things. Another hobby of mine has always been hair and makeup. I used to be a freelance makeup artist as my job! Now it’s more of a hobby, but I still love it. I used to do some modeling as well! You guys get the idea.

Me as a model!

What I’m trying to say is that you are so much more than your illness. I challenge you to think of three adjectives that describe you completely outside of your illness. I am empathetic, caring, and passionate. What are you? Let me know in the comments!

I also challenge you to pick up a new hobby next time you’re feeling unlike yourself. Next week, my aunt is coming over to teach me to knit! This is practical because I can do it on my commute to and from work, but also super fun! Now I can make scarves for everyone for the holidays and I’m so excited.

It’s nice getting excited about little things. In our world of medicine and therapy and possible hospitalizations and suicidal thoughts, it’s so nice to have a world outside of that. Our passions outside of mental illness can even pull us out of the depths of depression or any episode you might be going through.

Everyone says diet and exercise keeps you healthy, and that’s true. But there’s nothing like passions that give us a reason to get up every day. Those keep us healthy too! So whether you’re an artist, a singer, a makeup artist, a sports player, or whatever, keep at it. It makes a bigger difference in your life than you think.

Xo

 

How A 9-5 Affects Mental Health (And What You Can Do About It!)

We all have to work, right? And many of us who get jobs just out of college, like I did, are extremely lucky. But what happens when your shiny new job begins to take a toll on your mental well-being?

Number one is the commute. If you can’t get enough sleep, or spend half your day on a bus or train just to get to and from your job, that’s not going to be good for your mental health. I spend 4 hours a day on the train. It makes me feel like I’m living for the weekends because I have no time for myself during the week.

So what’s the solution to this? I’m in the process of asking to work from home one day a week because I can’t afford to move closer to my job right now. This would take a huge weight off my shoulders and sort of break up the week.

Next, there are the bad days. We all have bad days, but those of us living with a mental health condition can have it really rough sometimes. How are we supposed to have a productive day at work when we can barely get out of bed?

You could always call in sick, but what I like to do instead, is make sure I’m wearing something comfortable (and still work appropriate,) and order something I’m really craving for lunch. It’s the little things that really help get you through the day! As for the work day, I give myself a break. I’ll get my work done, but if something can wait till tomorrow, I’ll save it for then. This way, you’re still getting to work and getting everything done, but you also aren’t overworking yourself.

Lastly, how are your coworkers, and does it weigh on you having to keep your condition a secret? Not everyone keeps it a secret. I chose to, but accidentally told one person. As far as I know, no one else knows, and I’ll keep it that way. There’s so much stigma that I just don’t feel for me personally that it’s worth it to put that information out there. But hey, that’s just my choice. You know what’s right for you. I do feel like I’m keeping a huge secret sometimes. Like it’s something I need to be ashamed of, even though that’s not the case.

That’s why this blog is so therapeutic for me. I’m able to give advice and share my stories without the judgement and stigma that you get in your professional life.

So here’s the big question, can you be a mental health advocate and still have a professional life that’s separate? Of COURSE! That’s what I’m doing! And anyone who doesn’t like it doesn’t have to follow me. That’s really how I feel. I want to create a community of all different kinds of people with all different kinds of jobs that can lift each other up throughout the ups and downs. And you can do that too. Your job isn’t always going to be your greatest passion. That’s why I love having this hobby on the side. It’s totally manageable and I can write from anywhere.

So stop living for your 9-5. If you have a mental health condition, do what you love for work, or do your job and find something you love on the side. Keep that spark ignited, because I know you can make a difference by following your passions.

Your job may take a toll on your health, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself on your time off! Be kind and patient with yourself, and just do the best you can.

Xo.

Alcohol and Bipolar: My Experience

My story with alcohol begins at an early age. When I was 13, I snuck a drink with one of my friends at a party. Then, I slowly drank little by little at friends houses (infrequently), until the age of about 16. By then, I was going to parties and getting absolutely blackout drunk every time. I don’t love telling these stories, but it’s important that you know this so that you can see the change from beginning to end.

I was undiagnosed, manic, and acting completely ridiculous every weekend of my high school career. I’ll spare you the photos of those weekends. I thought I was having fun at the time, but looking back, my drinking caused me to lose two important friendships, and even allowed guys to think they could take advantage of me because I was drunk. I was a disaster, but I had no idea.

Lots of kids binge drink before they settle down and realize their limits, but I took it to a level that, thank god, I don’t anymore.

When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 19, I was put on mood stabilizers. This meant that I was supposed to now only have two drinks or less on nights that I went out. But that wasn’t so realistic for me. So, throughout college, I continued to drink heavily to the point where I would fall asleep at the bar because my meds and alcohol were not supposed to mix.

Now, at the age of 22, I’m beginning to learn. I know that I have to do what’s best for me despite what might be going on around me. I think I’ll always be a party girl at heart, but I have to know how to dial it back. I’ve cut down to like 3 or 4 drinks on a night out, and sometimes I even stick to the 2 or less rule! But I definitely have some work to do. I don’t want to put that kind of strain on my body.

All I know is, now I’m much happier getting a Bloody Mary with brunch that getting wasted every weekend. I still go out all the time, but I’m living proof that it’s possible to go out without getting totally messed up. It’s still fun! Now I just want to dance, get dressed up, and be with friends.

It’s not as much about the alcohol anymore. I definitely still slip up, but knowing what it’s doing to my body and my mood makes it worth it to drink less. I’m confident that I’ll continue to improve my habits and that my mood will become even more stable in no time. All we can do is our best.

Xo

P.s. I know 3 or 4 drinks is too much for me. I’m just being honest about where I am in my journey to health. Please please PLEASE follow your doctors orders when it comes to drinking!

How To Turn Your Day (And Your Life) Around With Self Care

You know the feeling. That pit in your stomach and that wave of paralysis from depression that makes it feel almost impossible to do anything. When you really need to feel better, it’s important to have a few things you like to do that can count as self care. That way, you can cheer yourself up and get things done.

Now, I’m not talking about boring self care like washing your hair. While that’s extremely important as well, it’s nice to have things you can always turn to that won’t just help you get by, but will help you actually turn your day around! Disclaimer** I am fully aware that some days, doing these things just is not possible. I’ve been there. This blog post is for the days when you might not be feeling like yourself and you need a pick me up that’s a healthy way to deal with what you’re feeling. This is not for the really bad days. I will address those days in another post.

My “happy day” self care can look like a few different things. I personally love beauty products. So sometimes, I’ll throw on my favorite throwback playlist and break out my selection of face masks. I like to multi-mask, so I’ll do a charcoal one on my t-zone and a moisturizing one on the rest of my face. I’ll paint my toenails while the mask dries, and then exfoliate my face when it’s time to wash the mask off. Then I go through my whole skincare routine and my skin will feel soooo smooth. It’s those little things that make me happy.

On other days, I love a good candlelit yoga class or some guided meditation at home on my Calm app. Sometime self care isn’t so glamorous and that’s fine too! If I’m feeling like I really need tranquility in my life, I’m a huge fan of throwing on my comfiest leggings, getting my yoga and meditation done, and drinking some lemon ginger tea. Yogi makes a great, affordable one. Then I’ll take a quick shower and watch a movie with a (preferably) healthy snack. But ice cream’s good too, you guys!

But my favorite outlet as of late is blogging. Whether it’s on my Instagram or here on this page, I love writing out posts and captions and editing photos. It’s such a great release and it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. Blogging also keeps me busy, which keeps me from binge eating. Unfortunately, I have suffered from binge eating disorder for many years, and the binges would usually happen when I was stressed out or upset without anything to do about it.

Healthy outlets have really helped me to keep my eating in check, and I haven’t had a bad bingeing episode in over a year now. Now that I’ve learned how to replace bad habits with positive ones, I’m so much better off. If you’d like to hear more about my journey with an eating disorder, let me know in the comments!

All of the self care options I mentioned make me feel like I’ve gotten something done for the day, no matter how small it may be. And that is so rewarding. We all want to feel good about ourselves and like we have a purpose in this world. Whatever makes you feel good, go for it. I believe in you guys and I know that many of you will take your self care hobbies, change your mood, and get out there in the world and kill it with whatever you want to do. It all starts with YOU and how YOU feel about yourself. If you can take these small actions to feel great about yourself, you can do anything.

Bipolar and Relationships: Why They’re Totally Worth It

When I was younger, I never thought  I’d get married. I was fiercely independent and it never really crossed my mind. But when I met my boyfriend at 16 (we started dating when  I turned 20,) everything changed.

All of a sudden, life was like a fairytale, and it still is, two and a half years after we started dating. But that’s not to say it isn’t difficult. When I was 19, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder. Everything was turned upside down. And only a short year later, we began our relationship after four years of friendship. It’s never been easy, but it’s been so amazing, wonderful, and absolutely worth it.

My mood swings can make things difficult. Even with daily medication and constant work on bettering myself and my life, I still have bad days. I can be snappy and just downright mean. I take it out on my boyfriend even though I don’t mean to and I love him very much. It just sort of happens.

But luckily, he is the right person for me, and he loves me through it. Through all of the crying and anger and irritability, the hypomania and the extreme depression that comes along with having this condition. He keeps me in check and lets me know when its time to go back to therapy. He always asks me if I’ve taken my meds even though I almost never forget. It’s so nice to see how much he cares.

It’s a lot of work for both us, I won’t lie. We both have to manage our emotions to not get too upset with each other when I have an episode. It’s pretty rare these days that we fight because of my bipolar disorder, but it wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, I still didn’t know how much was appropriate to drink on my meds. I was still seeing a bad therapist. I was still getting used to being in a serious relationship! I was a lot to handle.

But, as we’ve grown together, things have become more manageable and we love each other now more than ever. I’m extremely lucky to have someone who is this supportive and caring as my partner in crime, but at the same time, I wouldn’t allow anything less.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though we may be emotionally at a disadvantage sometimes because of our illnesses, we are still utterly and completely worthy of love. I would never be in a relationship with someone who didn’t support me. I’d rather be alone forever. But there are people out there who will love you so hard for just who you are. So if you’re bipolar, or even if you’re dealing with a different illness, don’t think for a second that you won’t find someone that’s perfect for you (if that’s what you want.) If you see yourself in a relationship, but haven’t quite gotten there yet, don’t blame your illness. You are perfectly imperfect, and someone amazing will one day be lucky to have you.

And if you are in a relationship, make sure it’s a good one. I’ve learned over my years of dating all the wrong people that not everyone will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Never compromise your life for someone who doesn’t deserve you. Your illness does not make you less worthy of love than someone who maybe doesn’t deal with mental health problems.

I’ll leave it at this. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” I bet you all know that line from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s cheesy, but I love it and it’s always stuck with me. Know your worth, stick up for yourself, and love fiercely. When the right person comes along, you’ll know.

xoxo

Welcome To The Bipolar Blog!

I’m so happy you’re here!

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You musn’t lose it.” -Robin Williams

I have been wanting to create a mental health blog FOREVER, but I was so scared to get started. Scared of judgement, scared of failure, and scared of what everyone would think. But today, I decided to throw it all out the window and just do it.

I mean, why not? I’m always talking about how mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. We shouldn’t be hiding, we should be spreading awareness and loving ourselves. So, here I am, practicing what I preach.

I want to thank each and every one of you who follow my Instagram page, (@thebipolarbabe) who gave me the push I needed to do this. You’ve supported my posts from day one, and have even given me some great blog topics that I’m so excited to get started on. You’ve made a huge difference in my world, and now I want to get out there and make a difference too.

That’s all I’m trying to do with this blog…just make people feel less alone. I only know of one or two other blogs about mental illness, can you believe that? In the world of a million beauty, fashion, and lifestyle blogs, we are so lacking in this area! And so, I give you, The Bipolar Blog.

I plan to start posting once a week and seeing how that goes, but I’d love to even post twice if I can. We’ll see what my schedule allows.

So that’s it for my first post! The coming posts will likely be longer, I just wanted to get on here and say “Hi!” before getting into the super deep topics.

See you all soon!!!