young woman sitting by a window looking sad

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

I’m terrified. No. Make that petrified. How do you hold two entirely separate things, one in each hand, and weigh the importance of one over the other? How do you wrap your head around the possibility that you might not even be able to have the one thing in life you have wanted for as long as you can remember? How can you choose your health over an innate, natural desire, or even need? How do you sacrifice your health for a dream?

Or do you have a choice?

Do you stand a fighting chance against the cards that life has dealt you?

And is life telling you to back off? Or fight back?

Fight for what you want, what you feel you need in every ounce of your body? Why should I be different? Why should I be deprived of something I’ve wanted for so long? Something that makes a part of me ache a bit because I yearn for that something to be a part of my life as well. A part of me. A part of us.

But…it is not that simple. Then again, what major decision ever was?

You see since I was young, I’ve wanted children of my own. Three. I’ve always wanted three. Whether it be two girls and one boy or one girl and two boys, I could never really decide. But I always knew it had to be three. And through the years, I’ve dreamt about what their names would be, what their personalities would encompass, what talents they might have.

But never in my wildest dreams could you have told me 15 years ago that having kids might not be an option for me. I would’t have believed it. And then, I would have dropped my bottom lip even further to the ground when you told me it is because a year later, I would discover I was bipolar, which meant, medication, which meant chemicals, which meant hundreds of milligrams cramped together in little yellow and green cases that could potentially bring harm to an unborn baby. Do I dare to take that risk?

It might be risky to try and have a child while on all the medication I am taking. Right? Sigh. And I’d be pretty foolish to try and stop taking the meds so I can have a child. Right?  Of course. I wouldn’t do that. Ween myself off slowly sure… I mean, that is what my psychiatrist told me is what I’d have to do.

But I’m so scared. I have been on these pills since I was a teenager. I’m scared to death to simply stop taking them. Will I be able to handle it? Could I cope? I mean, I’ve had a major relapse even when I was on the pills! What happens when I’m off them entirely? It…I don’t know. It seems so unfair. I feel like bipolar disorder makes my life abnormal enough as it is. Is it so wrong to have one thing in my life that is “normal?” So I can at least pretend to be “normal” again? Why should I have to deny myself of one of the things I want most in this world because I developed a mental illness?

But if I were to go off my meds? I fear the paranoia will come back. I fear I will start hearing voices again. I fear getting depressed. I fear getting stuck again. I don’t want to put myself in the position I was in before. It literally almost killed me.

But the thought of not having children kills me as well. It’d be easy to say, “I’m going to be strong!” And I’ll have the greatest reason ever for it. But the truth is, I might not be able to control myself or my illness once I’m off my meds.

But, and yes, I know this is like the 20th “but” now in this post, but (there I go again) I’ve always felt I was meant to be a mother. Always felt that motherly instinct. It is a part of me that’s been present for decades. What’s more, I don’t want to deny the man I love something he wants as well. I want to be able to give him children.

I never really know which part of me is my medication, and which part of me is me. The two have been blended together for so long, it is difficult to divide up the pieces. You are left guessing. And you are left to ask yourself, “This person I am giving up (this person who has been tweaked, formulated and regulated through the years), will that person disappear once I abandon my meds in order to create, what I want to believe, is a better, more magnificent life for myself (which I feel would occur the moment I am holding my baby in my arms for the first time)?”

But I know who I am and I like the person I have come to be. It’s taken years, but I’m happy in the state I am in. I am comfortable in my own skin. I have to believe this is the person I will continue to be once I stop taking my pills. I have to believe it because if I don’t… I won’t recognize me at all. And others won’t recognize me. My own boyfriend might question my new state of mind. My new behavior atypical of the girl he’s grown to love the past eight years and eight months. I don’t want to change for the worst. Hell, I don’t want to change at all if it means losing myself. I can get by in life being who I am today. I could excel if I wanted to.

But really, what I want is simple. A baby.

I’m working with my doctor to take the best path for me, but why does it have to be so hard? It’s all that B.S. baggage and everything that comes with it. But really? As petrified as I am to live a life without these drugs? I’m even more petrified to live a life without children. I can’t imagine that life. And it’s not that I don’t love this life I am in. It’s not that I don’t love Richard immensely because God only knows how much I love that man. But…I don’t think our family is complete. Not yet. It is missing a baby bottle or two…or three.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock image via Thinkstock


The rhythm dances in my ears and the sun blinds me as it radiates huge beams of happiness down onto the world. There is a spring in my step and I can feel the softest breeze on my skin, like silk as it pulls across the body. A chemically charged ball of fire is pulsing through my veins and as my hair bounces on my shoulders, I cannot stop smiling. Life is good! Life is great!

Thoughts race around my mind, ideas crash into one another and I struggle to control the pace. Voices echo loudly. And music cannot drown out the screams. With hands tight over my ears, the sun hides away behind the looming clouds. The wind tears my heart and soul from my body and an icy grip wraps tightly around my neck. The light begins to falter.

With or without mental illness, life is a battlefield of people trying to figure out their hows, whys, whats, whens and whos. Then society throws in labels to identify the whos and whys. Not quite yet satisfied, society wants to tell us the label means we can’t do or be something. Then we tell ourselves the same lie. We listen to the same rhythm of untruth that wraps around our sore and broken souls. It is time to change the beat we’ve been listening to. Take out that old scratched record and replace it with something new. Those well-rehearsed lines are doing you no favors.

Yes it hurts. Sometimes it’s exhausting and sometimes exhilarating. Sometimes I think that ball of energy might burst from my body leaving a gaping hole in my chest.

Change your music, find a new beat to walk to, a new beat that makes your soul sing. Find your own rhythm to live to.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Robertobinetti70.

With my sons most recent admission to the hospital I have found myself in dangerous waters. I have been manic for over a month now, and the exuberant amount of energy and ideas of grandiosity have begun to take  heir toll. I am not sure what triggered this manic episode, if I had to guess the incredible amount of stress has something to do with it. For the past six weeks I have been living a life of medical necessity. Days are marked by doctors and medications — my son’s not my own — and the weight of responsibility is starting to take its toll.

I have been living a life of medical necessity, battling sepsis and surgeries alongside my son, and mania and depression on my own. While the depression has been kept at bay, my mania has not, and it is beginning to show. I have tried to keep it under wraps and while my therapist applauded my efforts at controlling my impulses, I can’t help but feel I am fighting a never-ending battle.

Living life at the hospital poses a unique set of challenges, masking my mania included. For me, I feel like I always have to be “on,” which is exhausting. My son deserves a mother who is emotionally and mentally present, not just physically there. The past month it has taken all of my coping skills to stay above water. Every day poses a new challenge, for me and my son alike. And every day I have remind myself of a few things, which I hope you find helpful if you are ever in a similar situation as the one I am currently in.

1. Take your medications. If you are on a medication schedule, keep it. My biggest mistake occurs on nights when I sleep at the local children’s hospital with my son. I tend to not take my medications on those nights, and pay for it dearly. Skipping doses does not do (any) body any good, especially me.

2. Keep talking. If you see a therapist, keep seeing them. It can be incredible hard to carve out time for therapy when life is calm, add in the additional time constraints and responsibilities of having a child in the hospital, and therapy seems damn near impossible. Make it a priority. Even if you can only phone conference from the hospital room (I’ve done it), make sure you have your support system intact. Keep your medical providers and therapists informed. This might seem like a no brainer, but it took me a long time to have the confidence to call my doctor and tell him when life became too overwhelming. During times of stress, it is important to keep everyone on your care team on the same page.

3. Ask for help. Rely on family and friends. If you have a support system, use it. If people offer to help, take it. I have a freezer full of ready to go meals, made by friends and family. I’ll admit I rarely take the time to eat them, but I have them.

4. Open up about it. I have found the easiest way to manage my mental health is to be honest and open about it. Close friends and family have been looped in for years now and my husband is incredibly supportive. And while I have an incredible support system, already I have learned that there is nothing wrong with looping others in. One day last week, during a conversation with an incredible nursing friend, I opened up about my disorder. Was it uncomfortable? A little. Did I worry what their reaction would be? Of course. But at the end of the day it was important for me to be open and honest with this person when they asked, “How are you doing?”

5. Take care of yourself. Above all else, practice self-care. This goes right along with taking your medications, but includes so much more. Take a break once in a while, get a cup of coffee and chat with a friend. Sleep — this is probably one of the most important things you can do when managing mental illness and stress. Try to eat well. I know it can be difficult to eat healthy if you’re living on hospital cafeteria food or take out, but try to fit in a vegetable or fruit once in a while. If you aren’t on one, add a multivitamin to your regimen. Exercise. This might seem a little selfish but one of the best tools I have against my mania is exercise. Physical exertion helps calm the anxiety that often comes with my manic episodes, so for me fitting in a run here or there is vital to my survival. Whatever you do, however you manage to fit it in, just remember to take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via diego_cervo

Sophie Eliza has always been open about living with mental illness, but to her, hearing about someone’s experience is different than witnessing it. To help her family and friends understand her illness, Sophie decided to share a video on Facebook of herself after what she called a “psychotic event.”

“The first photo is of the Sophie that everyone knows. Happy and smiley,” Sophie, who lives with bipolar disorder and anxiety, wrote in her Facebook post. “The next photo and video is of me is during a psychotic episode after I had calmed down a bit to where I could talk and I was seeing things other than visions of people screaming covered in blood.”

“The video is really about the realization of what had been happening to me,” Sophie told The Mighty. “But amongst the self-hate and despair and continued fight to stop the visions, I realized very few people had ever seen me in that state. I realized I could count all the people one one hand who had ever seen me ill.”

Another part of her decision to share, she said, was based other Facebook posts she’d seen where people claim to be “a little bipolar” or “OCD about something.” “It makes light of a very serious thing, and I doubt the people who wrote them, or shared them, have any idea what those things look like,” she said.

In the week since posting her video, Sophie’s post has been shared more than 33,000 times. Most of the feedback, she said, has been overwhelmingly positive, including hundreds of messages she’s received from old friends to strangers thanking her for sharing her experience as well as sharing their own.

There has also been negative feedback, including the loss of her part-time job working with kids, but Sophie said that hasn’t deterred her. “Comparatively I’ve had job offers from people saying I’m exactly the kind of person they want their kids to meet.”

Adding to her original post, Sophie has included several edits, and a blog post, to address some of the comments and feedback she’s received. Mainly, she wants others to know that it is OK to have a mental illness. “The point is I’m ill, but that’s OK, and if you are, then that’s OK too,” she writes. “You’re not alone, we just need help from doctors, just like any other unwell person. We are shaped by our experiences, take courage from the fact that you are still here and you’re still okay even though you battle your own brain every day.”

Finding purpose in a life with bipolar disorder and various other mental illnesses is not easy. I had no aim in life. I was born, I grew up under the shelter of my parents and then suddenly I was pushed into the real world when my mother passed away.

I gave up my college life. I gave up on my jobs. I gave up on everything that should have given my life a purpose. This was the starting point of my downfall. I didn’t even know I had a mental illness. I tried to die by suicide and that’s when the first psychiatrist saw me and diagnosed me with depression.

But it wasn’t until later when I found out about my bipolar disorder. And life became as harder as it became easier. Easier because now I knew what has happened to me. Harder because it didn’t make me find my purpose in life.

I remember the time when I said and I actually believed I couldn’t write. I had zero confidence in myself. Today writing is all I do. I never thought I would actually find a reason to keep living. I wanted to die every moment of every single day. And now I’m still here. There must be a reason why.

I honestly don’t know why or how I wrote my first story. When I first wrote a story on Facebook, I didn’t think I would get any positive feedback from people. I was rather afraid, tense and anxious. But then I started getting messages from people I didn’t even know, asking me how to find a doctor and asking me how to get to know their own illness. I was surprised and shocked by the response.

Now I know this was the point where I found my purpose. I knew I wanted to help people struggling in silence like I did for so many years. I knew I wanted an opportunity to give back the help I got myself. I started writing about my own experiences. But it wasn’t enough.

I saw everywhere the stigma attached to mental illness. I saw people like us are not accepted as we should be. I saw people afraid to come out and say what they’re going through. I saw people in suits and dresses sitting in my psychiatrist’s office but I didn’t know where they were going after that. There must be a reason for all this secrecy and there must be a way to deal with it.

This was my life’s purpose. I knew in my heart I needed to put my foot down and do something to eradicate the stigma attached to mental illness in our society. I started Hope is Good India because of this. I want to make a difference by giving back what I have received.

This secrecy about mental illness is why we’re losing the bigger battle to these illnesses. It’s the reason why nobody comes out to talk about it. Well, it’s time to change this view. It’s time for a brand new beginning.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via MangoStar_Studio.

It’s only mid-February. Winter is here in almost full force in my area, but I’m already looking ahead to spring. Not so much in a good way though; it’s more a feeling of dread. Mania hits me every single spring, no matter what I do. I take vitamins, I eat healthfully, I take my psychiatric meds. But mania still hits me every spring. Most things make it worse, so much worse.

One doctor finally explained that my circadian rhythm just doesn’t adapt well to the extra hours in the day. Well, great. I feel like the only person on Earth allergic to sunlight in this way. OK, I know that’s not true at all, but when I’m feeling sorry for myself or hating my bipolar disorder, it seems to be so.

It’s happened each spring since I was a teenager. As soon as the time moves forward an hour and I’m exposed to more sun, I have a pretty major episode. I’ve even started to notice physical changes during those times. My skin glows, my eyes and hair are extra shiny, it’s unbelievable. Sometimes my eyes actually turn more hazel than dark brown during “spring mania.” I remember having a kind of “glow” when I was pregnant. This is like that glow, but it’s that much more pronounced.

A good friend of mine commented on my change in appearance during an episode once. She said she couldn’t put her finger on it but that I looked noticeably different. Possibly younger, even. She asked what had caused me to radiate like that. She was suspicious, I sensed. She didn’t ask any more questions and we just let the uncomfortable silence hang in the air until I left. It normally would have been embarrassing but since I was in the throes of mania, I took it as a complete compliment. I thought everything was simply wonderful and I was happy everybody else thought so, too.

One time in college during one such episode, I was racing to a job interview, and I do mean racing! I was going so fast I sped past a cop while blowing through a yellow light that turned red. Of course I got pulled over. I remember the officer was so annoyed that I was in such a “good mood.” He kept trying to bait me into an argument about why I was going so fast, and he insisted on repeating that he should give me a ticket. I just kept saying, “OK” to whatever he said and smiling. Finally he threw my license back at me and stormed off. To this day I don’t know if he understood what was happening or not, but at least I didn’t get a ticket.

I’ve recently begun to read articles about spring mania. I’m glad that others know what this is like, though I hate that we all go through it. Nothing good comes from my springtime mania, and I almost always end up in the hospital. The last major episode I had was when I went to Los Angeles one April to visit a relative. That was a mistake. Not the trip, mind you, but the timing. I should have paid more attention to my symptoms. By the time I got on the plane to LA, I was already fully manic. I know that now. When I got home, I’d stopped sleeping and eating. I had the cravings I only get during mania. And my mood was off the charts. Needless to say, I had to become an inpatient. I’ve since learned that changing time zones during travel can cause a manic episode. Good to know!

I keep looking outside and seeing the gloom winter brings with it as an unwelcome plus-one. I know that we have a ways to go until the time changes and spring comes blossoming in, but I’m still preemptively nervous. I hope this time things go well and I am thinking positively, but I’m also prepared for what usually occurs. I don’t want to say it’s inevitable, but that’s how I feel sometimes. Here’s hoping the upcoming season only brings showers and flowers for me and all those who experience spring mania.

Here are some tips for staying well in the spring with bipolar disorder:

1. Make sure to get plenty of sleep, regardless if your body wants it or not.

2. Eat a well-balanced diet. Food definitely plays a role in how our episodes play out.

3. If you take medication, take your meds exactly as prescribed and be sure not to skip any doses.

4. Monitor any symptoms that may occur as soon as you notice them, then check in with your healthcare provider.

5. If all else fails, and you end up getting sick, please be kind to yourself. Get the appropriate help needed for the situation and don’t get frustrated with any setbacks.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Thomas_Zsebok_Images

Real People. Real Stories.

150 Million

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.