COVID-19 & Mental Illness…

As I sit here thinking about what I should share with world… I can’t help, but suddenly be slapped with a feeling of complete shock and disbelief. Life has felt that different for us over here, and I’m sure many, many of you. I think we have the ‘normal’ things that feel different… Things like, the kids aren’t in school (we homeschool 2 of our 4 and have loved having everyone home), work is sporadic and I get to it when I can, fear of getting sick, fear of doing the most basic of things. If someone had told me five weeks ago, as I was severely manic and chose to do IOP and try to wait things out at home while medications were changed and I was safe, that this would be what life looked like. I wouldn’t have believed you. Now, let me say, I’m blessed, I truly am. I know there are people out there that have it also have SO much going on. Today, I’m only here to talk about my story and things that are helping me and what life is looking like for me right now. I, of course, hope it’s something you can relate to and also share in helping yourself.

So. To say the least this month at home (so far) has been hard in many ways and lovely in others, while also holding a space of fear. I am find that I’ve been worried about many things, but also thrown into a world of ‘slow down’ with no warning and possibly at one of the worst times regarding my mental health, while also likely saving me from my own mental illness in other ways. You see, something I am learning as I decide to get to know myself better and to become well is that I am not only Bipolar when I’m manic or depressed. I have Bipolar 1, all the time. It doesn’t just go away and then come back. So much of how I live has actually been affected by my Bipolar. I am often what many would say I’ve been all my life… go, go, go! I easily float from museums to museums, to play dates, to art work, to work, to family and so, on. Just prior to this I was really struggling…. I knew I was not doing what I could in some aspects of my life. Several actually. I had taken on some work, that I was directly told I should not do, but doctors, friends, family. And what did I do? I took it…as I was riding this lovely wave of hypo mania that quickly spiraled into mania and then psychosis. I often do this, find a way to basically ignore those around me… knowing in that beautiful moment I should listen, but can’t. Anyways, shortly before we went on lock down I was so concerned and really struggling with how to handle this and it was clear to me the universe was telling me to slow down. That didn’t make it any easier though to have to ‘bail’ in my mind on these clients who become near and dear to me. So, when this happened I was scared for our health and relieved that I was forced to not be able to do this work I’d taken on. But it also came about my second day at IOP and then they transferred IOP to online sessions for the remainder 4 weeks. It came at a time where I was just starting to really want to be fully better, I’d hit what some, myself included, would call a bottom. I have finally come to a point where I WANT help. I WANT to better. I NEED to be. I’m now willing to do what I need to for myself and my health. For probably the first time ever, I’m willing to put the work in. However, that has been hard, and of course ebbs and flows with moods and the amount of work I’m realizing it really takes to be well. It’s work that surprises me and I find it surprises me. But it also comes at a time of high anxiety and the inability to do so much of what would often be normal, self care things for me. So what exactly am I saying? I’m saying that this is a hard time. A really hard time, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not filled with joy and happy moments. I’m saying that this time is hard for everyone. And especially those with mental illness. I’m saying let’s take some time to find some time for self care. For me that means, making sure I’m taking my medications. Making sure I’m getting sleep (this is a hard one for me). It means taking time for myself each day. It means continuing to write and create, which fills my soul. It means praying and meditating. It means listening to others and tracking my moods right now. It means understanding that this will take time and work. It means still doing my therapy and my IOP (thank God for technology). It means being honest with those close to me about everything going on. So I’m here to say this is hard, but it won’t last forever. And there are ways to focus on recovery and to stay well during this difficult time. This is also a time to talk and listen to each other right now. Reach out to friends and family, especially those with mental illness.

Again, this is just my experience and my hope. I hope it helps, not just myself, but anyone struggling. There is hope here, a lot of it.

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