Many people who are diagnosed with any medical condition, whether it be bipolar, depression, cancer, etc., often find themselves alone. I confess that I've been having that sinking feeling of isolation for a long time. It wasn't until recently that even an inkling of belief that I wasn't alone began to emerge. Ever since all of this mess started (my first entry on the blog By the Seat of Your Pants chronicles in detail my journey beginning my first year of college), I've had this feeling of loneliness. I wasn't just weird anymore, someone who had a few quirks, but was otherwise okay. In short, I was a freak. At least, that was my personal view of me. No one else I knew had these problems for the longest time. When I first joined SAI, and during my first year of college in general, the only thing I ever told anyone was that I was "sick." Which was true, but I left out the "important stuff:" depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation... I couldn't tell anyone. That was my plan. I would get through this stuff pretending to be normal. I had done it for so long; surely I could do it for a few more years.
But, of course, that proved to be wrong. Dead wrong.
I've been working on finding ways to get treatment. I've been seeing the clinic here on campus, and I hope to find a doctor once I return home for summer break. Am I better? Well, no. But this isn't an easy road to walk. I'm still trying to get better. And I couldn't have gotten where I am now without the help of some amazing people.
First, my cousin Amy. I've referenced her a lot on this blog, and in turn, she's referenced me. She's been a big inspiration for my writing. She was the one who encouraged me to start this blog as a therapeutic way of getting my feelings across and to stay stable, after seeing the success (both personal and otherwise) of her blog Letters to Daniel, which is now not only a blog and a bestselling memoir, but hopefully an eventual documentary! And seeing her rock the publishing world with God only knows how many books and contracts she's earned over the past few years fills me with hope that yes, I can publish a novel, despite the setbacks that I constantly have to face. Not to mention the other members of the writing community that I've befriended, including my friend Triston, who is currently working on a novel of his own, and my fellow writers on the By the Seat of Your Pants blog. I've learned to turn my work on Gears of Golgotha, Coffee-Crazed Writer, and By the Seat of Your Pants into outlets of therapy.
I also am blessed with an amazing boyfriend, Matt. He knows that I can be successful, and supports me in everything. He encourages me to pull myself up by the bootstraps, as we say here in the South, while still lending me a helping hand. February 19th will mark ten months of being together, and they have been the best months of my life. Through him, I've learned to trust people, that not everyone is out to get me.
As most of you know, I am a member of the Gamma Upsilon chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota. (Love and Roses, girls! <3) And my sisters have been a big help to me over the past year. Earlier today, my Province Officer Carrie came down to visit me to talk to me about my diagnosis and my journey thus far. Carrie was a huge help to me, and even pointed me in the direction of available resources to help accommodate my illness. Now more than ever, I definitely feel the bonds of sisterhood. There's also my friends outside of SAI, but I have too many to mention. They have all been there during this difficult time in my life, and I am grateful for the support they provide. Again, I have too many to mention, so for those of you reading this, you know who you are.
I also have amazing professors and faculty here at Morehead State, including members of the education, English, and music departments. The faculty and staff have all been extremely supportive of me, making accommodations and helping me succeed. I am especially grateful for the people at Morehead State's Tutoring and Learning Center. Through them, I've learned that I can succeed, and that asking for help is not a bad thing.
Is my life easy? Well, no. But nothing worth fighting for is ever easy. As Walter C. Dornez says in Hellsing Ultimate, "If something can be achieved easily, it probably isn't worth it." (Yes, I did just quote an anime. And yes, I probably just spelled Walter's last name wrong. But I don't care. Nobody freakin' knows how to spell his name haha.) And when you fight for something, it's always good to have allies, friends, and loved ones to back you up.
So this is my advice to you: try as hard as you can to establish a support group. This can be anything: your friends, your family, your church, a club at school or at the library. Mental illness can leave you with this stinging feeling of isolation. But guess what? You're not alone. There's an entire website devoted to mental health statistics. For example, 2.6% of American adults live with bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute for Mental Health. That statistic may seem small, but put that in perspective with our large population. That's about 5.7 million Americans! The National Alliance on Mental Illness (or NAMI) has many groups around the country. If you don't live in the United States, ask about appropriate resources available in your home country. But one of the best things you can do is educate yourself; read up on the subject of whatever illness you or your loved one has.
And for those of you who are reading this who do not have a mental illness, but are currently helping someone on their road to recovery: thank you. Thank you for being supportive of us on this long, hard journey. We realize that this is hard for you, too, and I don't think we make it known enough how appreciative we are of you. Without you, we may not be here today.
Mental illness may seem like a losing battle. But when you fight it together, it's a battle that you can win.
Love and Coffee cups,