Laura Hogan

@laura-hogan | contributor
Laura is a 22-year-old living with bipolar type 1. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina and has a passion for film, sports, netflix, and mental health!
Laura Hogan

Letting Go of the People Who Don't Accept Your Mental Illness

Letting go is hard. I’d argue it borders on impossible. I’ve advanced closer, waded somewhere in the middle and regressed. I’ve had one limb in forgiveness, one in bitterness and a third in embarrassment. I just don’t think I can say I’ve let it all go. I know I can’t say it. What I’m talking about is my heartache, people I’ve been hurt by (whether intentional or not) and painful memories. Sometimes, I’ll go through long stretches without thinking about any of it, which is nice. Yet, other times I’ll be laying in my bed or driving in my car and an old memory resurfaces, from however many years ago, to taunt me or to remind me I should be embarrassed. I’ve repressed a lot of memories, but eventually almost all return. This past weekend was the anniversary of a painful time in my life two years ago. Today, I’m so grateful and happy with where and who I am, but I cannot help but feel a searing pain when I look back. I’ve held grudges. I truly have forgiven myself and other people for some things. Other things, if I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t. It’s not because I don’t want to. The most prominent memories entail embarrassment, frustration, confusion, rejection and being out of my own control. At the time, I felt like no one wanted to be associated with Laura Hogan, the girl who had “lost it” after her senior year of high school. I kept hearing this message preached that, “It’s OK to struggle, and life is going to be hard. You’re going to need to ask people for help so they can walk through it with you.” From these same people, I found my struggle was too much. You can hurt, but it needs to be an acceptable kind of hurting. You can struggle, but it needs to be with gossiping too much, being impatient with God’s plan, being too selfish with your time, not feeling His presence enough or not getting asked to the dance. It cannot be that you are battling a mental illness you didn’t know you had. That’s what I learned from them. I’m not talking about one group of people, but a group at large. Do I think I’ve been there perfectly and every time for other people’s struggles? No, I don’t think so. However, I was absolutely amazed by the lack of empathy I received from so many people back then. At the time, I thought it might be deserved, but looking back I’m just angry. Not the kind of angry that makes someone want to be violent, but the kind that puts up walls and sheds a lot of tears. I’m still learning to let go. “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5 Image via Thinkstock.

Laura Hogan

Why Love Is Important In Bipolar Recovery

Let me start by saying medication has been vital in my recovery, wellness and maintenance. The arsenal of counseling and psychiatric services has also played a huge role. Without these things, my life would still be in complete and total shambles. However, I’ve come to realize the magnitude of the treatment that helped me the most with bipolar type 1 disorder. It sounds cliche, and maybe it is, but this is what pulled me through and out of some of the deepest valleys of my life. The best treatment I ever received was love. The sentiment of love gets tossed around a lot as we know, and has become cliche. But the love I experienced wasn’t an ephemeral love. It was a compassionate love that didn’t have conditions. I didn’t have to perform a certain way in order to receive it. I have felt loved by several people, but most notably over the years by the unwavering support system I have in my parents. In times when mental illness gripped me the hardest and I felt like the world turned its back on me, and when the white noise was deafening, they claimed me. And even more so they were proud of me. They put the condemning weight of my burdens on themselves and then some. They laughed and sobbed with me. They celebrated my small accomplishments. They held me with a death grip when I felt helpless. They encouraged me. They stood up for me. They loved me when I didn’t have love for myself. I was more important to them than the appearance of our family. They didn’t run from the diagnosis, but instead educated themselves and are now educating others. They put their own schedules on hold to be near me and to bring their little girl back. They emulated the agape love that God has for me. They were never ashamed to call me their daughter. I love you Mom and Dad. Thank you for sharing in both my sorrow and healing. I could never fully articulate how grateful I am that your reservoir of grace never runs dry for me.

Laura Hogan

What They Don't Teach You About Bipolar Disorder In Psychology Class

Bipolar disorder is a serious disease. It’s not fun. It’s not trendy. Bipolar (for me at least) means consistent medication, dose changes and getting adequate sleep to stay well. Bipolar means periods of extremes. Mania and depression, then mania again. A cycle through the seasons. Mania is a state of the brain. It seems rather misunderstood as a whole. It’s important to know that being in mania doesn’t make someone a maniac. I took the liberty of looking up “mania” on an online dictionary. Here’s the super informative definition: (1) excessiveexcitement or enthusiasm; craze: ex:The country has a mania for soccer. OK…so in second place: (2) Psychiatry. manicdisorder Mania. I had no idea what it was until I experienced it firsthand. In my psych class at Clemson University, I remember we breezed right through it. Which is fine, lots of material to cover, right? I scribed in my notes something like: mania — affective disorder characterized by euphoric mood, excessive activity and impaired judgment. While this is true, I had no grasp on what this would entail in real-life application. It was simply a multiple choice answer on a test. It wasn’t until my nonchalantly jotted bullet point became my reality that I understood. My bipolar disorder freaking sucks. It’s not something I can ignore and say, “Just..stay there, I’ll deal with you later.” It’s really hard. But I’ve learned a few thing, things you can’t teach you in psych class. Bipolar means living with haunting and embarrassing things I did or said in the past. …but it doesn’t mean I have to dwell on them day in and day out. And I don’t (anymore). It means I have a serious condition that needs to be addressed and managed. …but It doesn’t mean I think of myself as some sub-human specimen who can’t do what everyone else can. It has made me manic, but not a lunatic. It has made me depressed, but not completely hopeless for eternity. It means I have a disorder that I might not disclose to someone I just met, but this doesn’t mean I’m not doing everything I can to fight the horrible stigma. It means I didn’t expect to be a part of a group that’s often categorized with a host of cruel jokes. I’ve carried shame in my past, but I’m not currently in hiding over who I am. In fact, who I am is far more than my diagnosis of bipolar. I’ve been hospitalized, but I’m not a tragedy. You may have learned my disorder in a “cool psych class,” but that doesn’t mean you know who I am. This is why people with bipolar disorder need to tell their story. We are still human and want to be heard. You are not solely the definition in a psych textbook! Follow this journey on The Secret Disease.

Laura Hogan

To Brandon Marshall, Who Helped Me Face My Mental Illness

Dear Brandon, Even though you have one of the most “alpha-male” careers as an extremely accomplished NFL wide-receiver for the New York Jets, you have inspired a little girl to put back together the pieces of her life. A little over a year ago, my older brother Wes told me about you and about your story. I remember distinctly we were at my younger brother’s away football game in Greensboro, North Carolina. I was in the midst of a manic episode, but it was on the decline. I had just withdrawn for the third time from my semester at Clemson University where I should have been a junior. “Have you ever heard of Brandon Marshall?” He asked me. I told him I had heard your name but I didn’t know anything about you. He told me about how you wore lime-green cleats during a game for mental health awareness. He told me about how you were fined by the NFL for the cleats and that you matched the fine to donate to mental health organizations. “This fine is nothing compared to the conversation started and awareness raised,” you wrote on Twitter afterwards. Football is my platform not my purpose. This fine is nothing compared to the conversation started & awareness raised. pic.twitter.com/P9GNygFpH9— BEAST (@BMarshall) October 16, 2013 In almost an instant, you had become my hero. I went home and looked up more about your story. That you have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and went through the difficult but necessary journey of piecing back together your life and making sense of it all at McLean Hospital. Then, you opened up about your BPD and told the world at a press conference.   Even though we’re so different, we are so the same. I saw myself in your story. I thought wow, this man really understands me and what I’ve been through. Which is strange, because we’ve never met. Also the fact that you’re a pro-athlete and I’m a 5’3 college student. We look different, but I understand you. I’ve lashed out. I’ve felt like I didn’t belong. I’ve felt rejected. I’ve been unsupported. I’ve been misunderstood. I also have the same desires you did to inform people of what I’ve been through. To give people an opportunity to understand. To not hide. To use our story. Your wife Michi said as she was getting wrongfully arrested, “Someone is going to learn from our story.” She was right. Not just someone, many someones. And I am one of them. I cannot thank you enough for putting the whole team of mental illness on your back. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in a career that seems to inspire the opposite. Thank you for unknowingly welcoming so many out of their shadows and into the light. Thank you for messaging me back today and telling me how you were so proud of me. I nearly fell over in my class and that’s not an exaggeration. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face or the joyful tears from welling in my eyes as I flashed back to that moment this time last year when I first heard your name. Thank you for all that you’ve done for this community and for the world. Can’t wait to paint the world lime green together. Sincerely, The young woman you inspired to break free from the shame and chains of her illness. p.s. I’ll be keeping the Lego Brandon Marshall figurine that my brother got me on my dresser, always. To learn more about Brandon Marshall, check out his organization Project 375. Click here to donate to Growing Project 375.   Related: NFL Player and Under Armour Are Teaming Up For Mental Health