Disclosure and acceptance: how storytelling saved my life
A couple of years ago I shared my recovery story on a different platform called This Is My Brave. I discussed how a little kindness and some sage words of advice from their co-founder Jennifer Marshall had changed my life. I compared our upbringings and my struggle with medication compliance and how we were both over-achievers. What I didn’t share was that we live with the same diagnosis; bipolar disorder and that I had at first struggled with the stigma I may face about going public with my diagnosis.
This is where my story continues. When I hit send on my first submission I was terrified. I mentioned the various bouts of depression I had faced over the years but didn’t go into detail as to how those episodes had occurred after a hypomanic or manic episode. I was afraid to share about the other side of my illness. I already had experienced stigma associated with sharing my experiences with depression so sharing that you have what is considered a serious mental illness was off limits in my head. I continued to follow Jennifer’s work. I followed her ups and downs. I reached out again to Jennifer in the midst of a very difficult time and again she made sure to reply and tell me to stay the course and that the work I was doing was important. What Jen didn’t know was that her words kept me afloat during the darkest of days. In a two year span I had a cancer scare (possible lymphoma) and a manic episode following the lymph node dissection.
Again in the aftermath of my manic episode I clung to the words she had shared with me so many years before, “It takes time though, so try to give yourself some grace in the learning process.” I did as l had been advised. I took a step back from work and gave myself the time and grace to heal.
This time around I not only had Jen’s words in my head I had a supportive partner. In the midst of the chaos of physical and mental illness I met the most amazing man who held my broken pieces and helped me put them back together. As Jen always says stories save lives and her courage and honesty in sharing her story inspires me to keep telling mine. Our shared diagnosis and belief in the power of a story once again help me to find peace and healing. This time I am sharing it with The Mighty’s community who have been another life raft for me through my latest manic episode and subsequent depression.