Tuesday, December 17, 2019

How to Love Someone Who is Depressed: A Guidebook

Hi All,

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on my blog. I’ve shifted my attention to sharing my story on social media(@the.lotus.letter on Instagram), but will come here to write occasionally. Thank you for helping me create a space to be vulnerable and to help others who are in similar situations.

My husband graduates from college this week. For his final capstone project, he wrote a guidebook called “How to Love Someone Who is Depressed”. He was the brains behind it all, I was the editor that helped him sort his thoughts and put the pieces together. I think it’s the perfect time to share the guidebook with Christmas just around the corner. Turns out the holidays aren’t always “the most wonderful time of the year” for everyone. Many suffer with their mental health and it’s often exasperated by the pressures of big family gatherings and financial obligation. Feel free to share this PDF with friends and family! How to Love Someone Who is Depressed: A Guidebook


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Instagram

Hi guys! Just here to let you know that I have a ‘The Lotus Letter’ inspired Instagram account I started so that I can continue spreading the word toward ending the stigma! It’s called the.lotus.letter

Please go follow and tell your friends! Let’s do this together!

Friday, August 16, 2019

What to say & what NOT to say.

We live in a time where mental illness is more openly talked about and addressed.
I'm not going to say that things are perfect, the stigma is very obviously still there, but progress has been made throughout the decades and that is definitely encouraging for those who struggle.




I sometimes think to myself, "IF I had been born in the 30's or 40's, my diagnosis of "manic depression" would have most likely gotten me institutionalized, which is why people mostly kept their mouthes shut, and instead of seeking medical attention, they turned to alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms.

I feel very fortunate to live in a time where modern medicine is readily available to me and the psyche world is constantly changing, evolving, and becoming more innovative through new studies and theories. The future is very promising, and if one or both of my boys happen to struggle with depression like me, there will most likely be several options and outlets for them. This relieves the heavy heart I have of possibly passing down this disorder to one or both of them someday. I don't let my mind wander down that path for too long...

I get a lot of questions like, "What can I do for you?" "How can I be there for you?" & some people even go as far as saying, "I've never dealt with this, so I don't really know what to say, but know that I love you."


All of these things are good things. So let's start with that. What to say to someone who struggles with depression.

First and foremost, just know that in a depressive state, your texts and calls are most likely going to left unanswered by us. Please don't find offense in this. We either feel embarrassed/ashamed, have no energy to converse with anyone (not just you), or we are too tired/lethargic to even answer. We take mental note of you reaching out and though it means a lot to us, sometimes we just don't know how to answer in a way that accurately depicts the hell we are enduring. Be patient with us.


 Secondly, it is definitely okay if you don't know what to say, all that matters is you're trying. A simple "love you" text message, a gif, an emoji, a hug, a smile is all we need. We need something to remind us that we are breathing, living, human beings with big hearts. We need to be reminded that we are capable of being loved.

Here are some things we would want to hear from you in a perfect world:

I will never turn my back on you, take the time you need to heal, I am here for you.

Don't feel pressure to return my calls, I just want to keep checking on you, I want you to know I care.

You have so many strengths, you are brave and courageous, you will get through this.

You can lean on me, I am here for you.

Your thoughts and feelings are real, I understand you have a chemical imbalance, I will never downplay what you are going through. 

I love you for who you are, you will overcome this battle. 

Please keep fighting. Please keep trying. We all need you.

I know you are sick, though I can't physically see your sickness, I know that it is very real.

Validating how we are feeling is the first step, reminding us that you are here to stay is calming and helps us recognize we have a strong support system. Continually checking in, even if we don't respond, is critical. It doesn't have to be multiple times a day, or even every day, but it lets us know you care. It takes 3 seconds to send a text message, and that text message could potentially save a life.


Things not to say:

"Let me know if you need anything". Yeah, no, we won't ever reach out. Again, we may feel embarrassed/ ashamed/lethargic/etc. Whatever the reason, the chances of us reaching out to you are very, very slim. This is a battle we often feel we have to fight alone and it's very lonely.

"Maybe those who suffer with mental illness are being punished for their sins."
This was literally said at a church meeting and overheard by my friend who suffers from depression. God loves all his children, and I strongly believe that those who suffer with mental anguish and turmoil are not being punished by our Heavenly Father. That's like saying someone with cancer is being punished for their sins. It's ridiculous and incredibly hurtful. This goes hand in hand with someone assuming we are choosing to be depressed. Let me just tell you this, I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy and I promise you that. I've actually wished before that I could have one of my legs amputated or a physical ailment instead of having Bipolar. I know that wouldn't make things better for me, but my point is that I would never want someone to suffer this trial by "choice".

"What do you have to be sad about?" I've been asked this several times by my very own loving grandmother who I love to pieces. I recognize that she's naive and what I like to call "old school". If you were to peek through my front window and see my life from the outside looking in, you might ask yourself the same question.  A loving husband and two beautiful little boys, a roof over my head, among other things. It wouldn't matter if I was the Queen of England and had all the materialistic things at my fingertips, this mental illness is gripping; it is a chemical imbalance in my brain that I cannot control. I can take medications and go to therapy, but it's really just a bandaid on a gaping wound that is my earthly trial. So, for the love of everything pure and holy, don't ask this question to someone who has depression or any other mental illness.

"Are you praying and reading your scriptures?" First of all, when you're depressed its the last thing you want to do, but that's beside the point. Please don't base a person's spirituality or lack of on their diagnosis. That's like saying I can pray away this trial, and trust me from experience, no I can't.

Someone also, while reflecting on a past conflict, said to me: "Then I found out you have bipolar, and it made sense why you acted that way." Literally the most hurtful thing someone has ever said to me. It felt like this person was rubbing my diagnosis in my face, pointing out my flaws.

Because for starters, it is totally 100% for me to feel angry about something. Just like everyone else on the planet, I have that right. So no, chances are I just felt angry it has nothing to do with my disorder. I'm feisty as it is. Again, not my disorder.

I'm sure there's a lot of other statements that I'm missing, I've heard it all over the years, but these are the big ones.

Tip: Think your questions through before asking, be sensitive, would you say these things to someone with cancer? Is your question coming from a pure heart? Are you frustrated, if so, leave it alone.

Remember that if YOU are frustrated with us, we are frustrated too, x100000. We want you to care. We want you love us. We always come back. Love us through it and we will be forever grateful. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

"I say unto thee, arise."

In the LDS faith, the first Sunday of the month is the day we refer to as "Fast Sunday". On this Sabbath Day, we fast from food and water or whatever we personally decide to abstain from as a representation of our sacrifice to the Lord. Also on this day, the members of the congregation are invited to share their testimonies at the pulpit. This is not something I normally do because I'm usually (along with JJ) chasing our little guys around the church.

Well, yesterday being the first Sunday of August, I decided to walk the very long walk from the back of the church up to the pulpit to bare testimony of the truths of the gospel.

I started by testifying of the truthfulness of the gospel and the goodness of the atonement. I talked about how the atonement means more to me than Christ taking upon the sins of the world; that when I think of the atonement I also think of Jesus bleeding from every pore for the physical and mental afflictions each and everyone of us experience. Just imagining Christ standing in front of each person individually and physically taking upon him all of the ailments--cancer, diabetes, battle injuries from war, depression, Bipolar. . . . every pain you can imagine, is truly, truly,  humbling.

I then referred to a beautiful painting that hangs in our home. The painting depicts the story of the rising of the daughter of Jairus.

I teared up when I then explained that when I am burdened with depression, as I often am, I sometimes stop in front of that painting of my Savior, and I insert myself into that scene. If you look at Christ's eyes, they are patient and kind. The girl is unsure, and I imagine she says to Him, "I cannot do this." He holds her hand and says, "With me, you can." 

I like to think that the painting continues on, and she eventually lifts her little body up and Christ wraps His arms around her and says, "I love you." 

After telling this story and finishing my testimony, I returned to my seat to find my oldest son in great distress. JJ leaned over to me and said, "he started crying when you did".  I picked him up and he rested his little head on my shoulder and would not let go for at least five minutes, which if you know Carter, you know that in its self was a miracle.

As I sat there, cradling my three year old, it dawned on me that that was the first time I had felt the Spirit in at least three months. Suddenly, I sank a little bit in my chair as I looked up to see another young woman giving a tearful testimony. Was there something wrong with me? Am I a sinner? What am I doing that is preventing me from feeling the Spirit? As quickly as these questions filled my mind, I received a very bold and unwavering answer. 

I am not a sinner(well of course I am, but not in the way I imagined). I am a Child of God whose battle in this earthly life is depression and mental anguish, and sometimes that numbs me to a lot of feelings--spiritually and temporally. I reflected back on a quote from Neal A. Maxwell that states, "Of course it isn't fair, if it was fair, it wouldn't be a trial-- it would be a consequence." There are often times when my life, from the perspective of my brain, feels like it's got a veil over top of it. There are times when I cannot hit my knees fast enough, just to pray for strength to find a desire to continue living. But with surety, I know that without the gospel, nothing would make sense to me; my life would cease to exist in the form that it does. If I didn't believe in God, what would keep me alive? 

Sin is not keeping me from feeling the Spirit (though I'm not perfect). I am not without the Holy Ghost. I am doing all I can in this earthly life to stay pure and to receive personal revelation from Heavenly Father. 

In the story of the daughter of Jairus, Jairus comes to the Savior in a moment that no parent ever wants to imagine themselves in. His little, sweet, daughter is very near death. In Mark 5:41-42, it reads, "And he took the damsel by the hand and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightaway the damsel arose and walked;.."

When the days are dark, my breathing becomes shallow, the tears have dried up and all that is left is incredible amounts of absolute turmoil, I too can feel Christ's loving hand pulling me out of bed, whispering the words "I say unto thee, arise" over and over again until I find the strength within me to do so. Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit have never left my side. The burdens I carry, Christ has too.

So to those who suffer along side me, let us rise above our illnesses little by little; if not in this life, then the next. Let us allow Christ to work through us; that is the only true way to find peace and healing that will surely sustain us through the infirmities of life. 






Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Interviewing my Husband: A Spouse's Take on Mental Health

I decided early on that I wanted to feature my husband on my blog, but I wasn't sure when or how I was going to do that. He thinks he's a crummy writer *eye roll*, so instead of having him jot down his thoughts, I decided to interview him and this is what we came up with:

What was your initial thought when I told you I had Bipolar Type II?
It was a long time ago, but I was basically like "okay, cool." I didn't care because I loved you, you could've said you were a serial killer at that point and it wouldn't have mattered.



What was going through your head during my first 'panic attack' when we were engaged?
I was really worried about you, I didn't understand what was wrong about you. My first thought was to get you safe, whatever that entailed. I remember just laying next to you and stroking your hair, I made you laugh finally and that helped me calm down and feel like everything was going to be okay.



What is your advice to spouses of those who suffer from Bipolar disorder, or other mental illnesses such as depression?

Don't judge them when they're down, you will be happy if you recognize what their disorder is versus who they really are. Always remember the good in them, the love you have for them.


How does our marriage work amid the high divorce rate?
I choose it every day, regardless of your mental illness. We have a great and happy marriage. We laugh and have created so many amazing memories. You're the mother of my sons and I don't take that lightly.

What do you do that helps me the most in a depressive state?
Make you laugh, try to remove "triggers", clean and help out the best I can with the boys, give you little pep talks.


How does Bipolar disorder affect our daily lives?

It doesn't. The only time we are affected is when you are in a depressive state. All that happens is I have to pick up the slack. If I had Bipolar, I would expect you to do the same. That's marriage.


What is one piece of advice you usually give me when I am depressed or suicidal?

Don't judge yourself when you're down. This is nothing compared to eternity. This is tough now but the eternal perspective is so comforting.

What would you tell a young married man who has just found out his wife has been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder?
Don't judge her when she's down. Know the difference between her disorder and who she is when she is stable. Be patient and loving.


Why do you love me regardless of my illness?
Because to me, you aren't your illness; that isn't you. It's a big part of your life but it isn't you, it only makes up a percentage. I know the real you. Everyone has their flaws. I have flaws. We are who we are and I love you for the Genny Lynn Hyde that you are.




I'm the luckiest.

Why I Told the World

It's been almost ten months since I started The Lotus Letter.
Nearly a year since I decided to tell the world I suffer every single day from a serious mental illness.

It was the scariest, yet the most liberating thing I had ever done. Words cannot begin to explain the initial (and continual) support I had/have. I have essentially 'outed' myself to anyone with internet access, and the thought of that was a little unnerving at first. 

Who was going to look at my blog? 

What ex-boyfriends were going to potentially land on my writings and smirk to themselves and say, "I'm so lucky I didn't get caught up in that mess"? They'd close their laptop or turn their phone off for the night and thank their lucky stars that they weren't married to someone who had bipolar disorder; they'd go to sleep soundly and never think about it again.

It really bothered me at first, that people would think I was crazy, unstable, "psycho", the works. But my determination to become a mental health advocate was stronger than my worries, much stronger. I remember seconds before publishing my first blog post, I said to myself, "If I can just help one person.... one person....to not feel alone then this will be worth it to me." Within days, I had dozens of messages trickling in of support, love, and relatability. 

Recently, I received a voicemail from a dear friend of mine. She sweetly and humbly explained to me that had it not been for my blog and my bravery to speak out about the truths of mental illness, she would not be here today. She found the strength to go to the hospital and seek professional health after dealing with postpartum depression. She was courageous enough to go to a safe place where she could get medical attention, so that her child could have the future they deserve. She did it for not only her husband and child but also for herself. I love hearing stories like this because it gives me something to lean on.






I want more than anything to change the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses. In the United States, half the population of adults will suffer through a mental disorder/illness sometime in their lifetime. This is a serious epidemic, with many not receiving professional help. 

I want my face out there next to bold words such as depression, Bipolar II disorder, anxiety, self-loathing, PMMD (pre-menstrual mood disorder), but then I want other bigger and bolder words such as mother, wife, goofball, athlete, lip-syncing queen, writer, Child of God written on the same page. 

I want people to know that although I (and millions of other people around the world) suffer with a mental illness, that I still have a beautiful, fulfilling life. I have an incredible marriage founded on faith, trust, communication, unconditional love, and forgiveness. . . . a lot of forgiveness.


Most importantly, I told the world because I wanted others who felt hopeless to know that things can get better

That although living with a mental illness is beyond excruciating and painful, that there is so much worth living for.


                                               



I didn't do this for attention. This isn't something you do for attention; this is a life-altering decision that requires a lot of pondering and faith. Shouting my truths at the top of my lungs wasn't a decision I did for selfish reasons, for "fame", or for personal gain I did it to help others who felt alone like I did.

It's a decision that changed me as a human being.  It's a decision that made me more empathetic and compassionate for others who suffer with their own trials. It made me more accountable for the way I acted toward others. It has made me a kinder and gentler person. It has also allowed me to create boundaries with people, to advocate for myself and others, and to expound on my talents and gifts.

Having Bipolar is forever a piece of me. It is a chemical imbalance in my brain that, at times, makes me feel broken and replaceable.

I cannot pray this trial away, I will have it for my entire earthly existence--but as my husband always says "Genny this is nothing compared to eternity. You will be free from this in the afterlife." I have triggers and I have limitations. I have a true disability that prevents me from approaching obstacles like many "normal" people would. But you know what, I've made it this far. . . . I've made countless friends, seen and visited many places, I received not one but two diplomas in my lifetime. I have accomplished things and succeeded many times, even when I thought I wouldn't be able to. Life has hurt me, I have had my heartbroken, I have cried out out to the Lord in times of sorrow, yet here I am. 

Here I am fighting and continuing this battle.


And guess what, my friends?

So are you. 

Keep holding on. We are in this battle together.




Monday, July 22, 2019

Oregon students able to take 'mental health days' as excused absences: my thoughts

A local Idaho news station recently wrote an article about students in Oregon being able to take 'mental health days' and that the absences will be considered excused.

Under the article, the very first emoji reaction I saw, was a 'laughing' one. (it was on Facebook)

Surprise, surprise. It didn't really bother me, the stigma still exists, I'm not naive to that.

But it was the comments, one in particular, "Nothing like outing yourself as mentally insane."

I felt my blood boil but instead of responding, I just exited out and here we are now and these are my thoughts.


From Kindergarten on, I always missed a lot of school. In seventh grade it got so bad, I was eventually taken out of public schooling and home schooled. A year prior to that, I was put on some kind of anxiety medication because I constantly complained about "stomach aches" (which I now see was anxiety)

In high school, there was a semester that I missed so much school, I got a very stern yelling from my basketball coach. I often wish I could go back to that moment and just look him in the eye and tell him about the depression I was currently enduring. But instead I walked away and cried, I was so incredibly embarrassed that I had so many "issues".

You know what the saddest thing is? How "fake" I truly was. I would've never even dreamed or considered of telling my teachers, coaches, or friends what I was feeling inside,  or how sick I really got sometimes. My friends would playfully tease me for missing school. . . . . if only they had really known.

I don't blame my basketball coach or teachers for not "seeing the signs" that I struggled horrifically (at times) with anxiety and depression, because there were no obvious signs. 

I admire those who pushed for "mental health days" for our teenagers, I want to hug them and tell them what an incredible job they're doing. Because for me, instead of mental health days, I was forced to appeal for credits every single semester just so I could move on to the next grade. Only reason I was able to move forward is because my grades were good.

But guess what, I went on to graduate high school, and then get my bachelors' degree in college.



Let's continue making strides to end the stigma. After I have taken time to write down my thoughts, I see now that those people who commented negatively are just uneducated or uninformed about mental health. We'll get there someday. 


Friday, July 19, 2019

Feeling like a legitimate drug addict.

This may be a long-winded post, but it's so important.

About t h r e e months ago, I started taking an extended release antidepressant called Effexor.

From the get-go, it was literally the medication from hell. I was throwing up what looked like coffee grounds and was constantly nauseous. (the only good thing I can say about Effexor is it made me lose weight before my trip to Hawaii). I hated it, I hated the look of it. It was a capsule and if you shook it, it sounded like it had that salt you put on sidewalks in the winter in it. And it went down weird, and I didn't feel like it was doing a good job at anything. Can you tell I hate this medication? But I took it blindly. I didn't do my research.

Quickly after I began taking this drug, my husband started irritating me beyond end, like he doesn't know this but one day his eyebrow was annoying me. The thought of even being attracted to him in the bedroom made me want to puke. I repulsed everything about him. How sad is that? Like what was going on? On a normal day, I think my husband is the hottest living thing to grace the earth--love literally everything about that boy. It was ......Libido problems, 101. Sorry if that makes any of you feel uncomfortable, but that's the cold hard truth. The "bow chicka bow wow time" was absolutely not happening, and I'm sorry to say..... but that's really important in a marriage....especially our marriage.

Finally about a month ago, I brought all this up to my doctor and just said "to hell with Effexor, Orgill. You gotta get me off this stuff." We started to slowly taper the medication off, but oh no, that wasn't good enough for me. I wanted to be off of it N O W. So without education myself whatsoever yet again, I just ended it cold turkey.

Bad.
Bad.
Bad.
Decision.
I.
Mean.
Horrible.
See attached link: Effexor withdrawals

I was all of the sudden (3 days later) fighting for my life it felt like. You know when you go to Costco in the dead of winter, and you have to go get a couple gallons of milk in that super cold room and you're like already freezing because its -10 degrees outside? I kept getting these brain zaps (its a real thing), that felt like I was entering that room over and over again and then going on a rollercoaster right after. That's the best way I can explain it! Just these little zaps that made you feel so utterly panicked. So, I let Effexor beat me and promptly went back on it, because I was like "uh yeah, nope, not strong enough to get through this.".  . . . . I was crying over EVERYTHING. My husband would say "Hi Genny"  instead of "hey sweetie" or something stupid like that, and I would think he didn't love me anymore and lose my shi*.

Now fast-forward to today. We did the rational thing (come on Genny, just be rational!) and tapered off at a very, very, slow pace. As of today, I'm three days off of it completely. and I legitimately feel like a drug addict who is in rehab. And I'm not trying to use dark humor with that analogy, like I legit feel like what I think a drug addict trying to get clean would feel like. Except I'm not a drug addict, I'm a mother of 2 and a wife and all the things that aren't drug addict tendencies.

Brain zaps on day 1 of completely off the drug were happening once every minute.
Yesterday, I screamed at my 3 year old and all three of us were in tears, my youngest included. I felt so much guilt. I had reacted so intensely. So now I just literally leave a room if it's too stimulating, loud, or there is contention whatsoever.

Today is.... better. Still a lot of fatigue, still brain zaps, still distorted thoughts, and feeling like I'm literally out of my body just watching myself. But I think we are on the up and up now.

Yesterday I sat in my shower for ten minutes and screamed at God. I'm ashamed about some of the things I said. I told Him he must hate me, I asked him if I was being punished for something, I gave him ultimatums and told him he has until I'm 30 years old to heal me, because after that I'm giving up. I told Him I thought he had forgotten me.. I also told him He was stupid and not real (things I would never say to Heavenly Father in a rational state of thinking). I wept. I begged him to help me. 

Let me tell you why I'm so frustrated. It's because I'm actually trying to get better. I am exhausted from trying to beat this hellacious disease I endure every day. I want to be the mom of my kids' dreams, I want my parents to stop having to worry about me, I want to love my husband the way he deserves to be loved even though he constantly assures me he's doing great (marry someone like my husband, people, he's perfect--I don't know how I got him).

I am constantly in a battle with depression. I wish I had never taken Effexor, I wish I had listened to my body the first time I took it instead of "sticking it out". I wish that there was a magical combination that defeated this sadness that overcomes me. I wish I didn't have to have people watch over me, and care for me when it gets this bad.

If you suffer like I do, just know that you're not alone. I'm right here along side you, clinging to you and sobbing on your shoulder as you hold my hand. Virtually, we are best friends. I know the pains you experience, and you know mine. 

Here's to taking it day by day. . . . .



Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Dear Bipolar,

Dear BP, can I call you BP?

First of all,

Could you like chill a bit? Because you've given yourself a real bad reputation. The heart-wrenching pain you often associate yourself with, yeah well some people are totally self-medicating on your behalf. yeah, self-medicating as in alcoholism and illegal substances. Like I said, if you could tone it down a bit, then maybe people wouldn't feel the need to do that. Media also likes to take your name and rake it over the coals! You are a very popular substitute when describing weather or people doing irrational things.

I see I've hurt your feelings, so let me just *eye roll* list off some of the positive things you've blessed my life with.

You enhance my creativity. Yeah, yeah, don't get a big head just yet.  These creative moments are usually at 3 AM when I SHOULD BE SLEEPING. Or, in the middle of the day along with 57 other creative ideas, and my mind starts racing. But I do thank you for a those grandiose ideas, even though they usually don’t go anywhere.

You have, in a twisted way, caused me to be more empathetic toward others, which has in turn made me a kinder person and a better, more attentive friend and spouse.  So thank you for that.

You’ve taught me to not give up on people, regardless of their personal struggles and trials in this life. You are my most heartbreaking trial, and also the most challenging (by far) part of who I am. But I don’t know how I would feel about trading you for other trials, I can’t explain it. It doesn’t make sense. Maybe I’ve grown comfortable of you.

I’ve learned a lot about mental illness and have come to know that knowledge is power which also leads me to realize.....

I can overpower you. This isn’t an easy road or an easy victory but I AM stronger than you. Yes, you make me cry more tears than I ever thought was humanly possible. Yes you make me say things I normally wouldn’t say when I’m really upset, and yes you take a lot of things away from me... but I am still stronger. I am stronger because I am alive and refusing to give up.

I believe wholeheartedly that my role on earth is to educate others about the stigma around mental illness, to be a mouth piece for those who cannot speak, and to continue educating and learning about the affects of mental illness. I want to talk about tough subjects, I want others to know the truths about Bipolar, I want to lead by example so others think, “if she didn’t give up, then I won’t either!” I want to raise awareness around mental health.

So in a way, thank you Bipolar, for giving me this platform. For allowing me to use my voice to promote compassion. You will never defeat me.


Sincerely,

Genny Hyde



Happy Independence Day??

I’m writing this in the ‘notes’ section of my phone, so it may be a bit rough. I’m sick with another depressive state, and therefore metaphorically chained to my bed yet again. I wish my laptop was in here, but it’s not, and I’m too lethargic to go searching for it. 

There are two days left until the 4th of July. It’s a holiday I’ve always loved; the big fireworks, the warm, summer air, the yummy treats and BBQ meals. Family and friends gathered together, laughing, eating, playing games, and feeling incredibly blessed to be American. Yet here I am feeling enslaved by my own mental illness, laying in my bed. I tried to leave the house today and backed into a pole; I am foggy, tired, and imbalanced.

As I have been laying here, I have retraced the past six Independence Days, the first being as a newlywed in El Paso, Texas. 


I was utterly depressed. 

And again year #2,




And 3....
But not year 4 (I was pregnant)

Yes, year 5... (even though I look happy, I was not. At all.)




and now again year 6. It’s so disheartening. 

This time of the year is hard for me, and has been hard for me for YEARS. and it always links back to being the week before my period, especially if you look at the fact that the one year I WAS HAPPY I was pregnant, and didn’t have periods.  (PMS is always hard for me, I always have trouble with my moods the week before my period), and a new season. It’s now hot hot hot and sunny 99% of the time and summer is in full swing. & I feel like I never really know how to react to these two things weighing on me. They are such weird and unlikely factors but it’s really got me thinking that I may have a major hormonal imbalance going on. Have any of my readers ever dealt with something like this before? Have you ever been tested for hormonal imbalances? I would love to hear from you! Genny.gustin@gmail.com

Saturday, June 29, 2019

What I want people to know about Bipolar

I'm not a doctor.
I'm not a psychiatrist.
I'm not a medical researcher.

What I am is an actual real life survivor of Bipolar. A true warrior.



The word Bipolar might scare you. This might make you feel uneasy. Unsure. It may give you a bad taste in your mouth.

I can't say I blame you, I honestly would probably feel the same from where you're sitting. After all, the way the word itself is portrayed in the media is often done so with the cruelest intentions. It's okay that you feel indifferent toward people who suffer from Bipolar. I want more than anything to prove you wrong.


I recognize that not everyone responds to Bipolar the way my sweet husband did when I told him for the first time that I suffered from a serious mental illness. I'll never forget his, "and?" accompanied with a loving embrace.

After years of mulling over that experience I had with him, I've finally pinpointed why he reacted that way.

It's because he fell in love with Genny Lynn wholly and 110%, prior to either of us really understanding Bipolar; he knew the actual me. Not the diagnosis. Not the depression. He knew everything that enveloped me and he LOVED it all, and so to him, this trial was just that. A trial. Not our entire existence together, not the make up of what our next 60 years on earth would look like; a trial, a small blip, that could be dealt with accordingly.  And so far, we're doing pretty dang good.



Which brings me to this question: What do I want people to know about Bipolar?

First of all, I want you to look at me. Notice my crows feet around my eyes (that's from laughter, lots and lots of laughter and joyous happy moments).

I am a human being. and guys, I am worthy of so much freaking love. I am capable of giving incredible amounts of love right back. I have a big, overflowing, tender heart and a forgiving, weathered, and hopeful soul. 
& most importantly this was never my fault.  I never chose this trial. In fact, I have spent many hours pleading with the Lord in heart-wrenching agony to take this away from me. 

                                              

Because of my diagnosis, I am more compassionate. I read people's moods and energies. I want others to feel joy and contentment, even when I cannot. 

Because of my diagnosis, I struggle with constant guilt. When I am angry, I feel guilt. When I am sad, I feel guilt. I feel guilt because I wonder if my emotions are normal or reasonable (many times they are not, especially when I am upset), and therefore, those emotions sometimes can come across as accelerated or over-the-top. 

This is not a personality flaw. This is because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain.


I am a regular person, just like you are. 

I try to be the best version of myself. I wish I could say I do that for selfish reasons, because maybe that would make it easier on me, but I do this for my sons and my husband. I choose THEM every single day. I am still here on earth because I know that they need me. They would much rather have a mother with Bipolar than no mother or wife at all. 


I go drive and see a doctor every month, his name is Dr. Orgill. I see a therapist every two weeks, her name is Jane.

I am doing everything in my power to stay healthy and not get sick.
Not getting sick can be very challenging for me, and it's nothing I'm doing wrong.

Sick for me can look like:
Sleeping for 12+ hours
My husband managing my medications
Not returning phone calls or text messages
Our nanny watching my little boys
Not being able to drive my car
Suicidal thoughts
Throwing up what looks like coffee grounds (medicine side-affects)
Not eating 
A lot of time with Dr. Orgill
Crying 
A lot of crying
So many hugs from my husband

If there is one good thing about Bipolar, it's that it comes and goes, never lingering for long. I get sick, but then my meds get readjusted or the depressive state passes and I can stand on wobbly legs once again--getting stronger every single day. Sometimes I get sick for 3 days, very rarely it can be up to 3 weeks, but the depressive states are commonly short, and  I always bounce back to me again. 


Most importantly, I want people to know that I am not my diagnosis.

If I seem different, please ask me why. Chances are, you're right, something is wrong.
If I am ignoring your texts or calls, don't take it personally, I'm having a down day.
I deserve to be respected. I deserve being heard. I deserve all the love. Just because I have a mental illness, doesn't mean I shouldn't have opportunities to partake in all the lovely and great things this world has to offer; like motherhood, for example. 

Some may think, "Gee, she would be psycho without her meds." Maybe I would be??? I don't know, and that's not for you to judge. A person with Diabetes may be dead without their insulin. I need my medication and I need therapy, but so do so many others who suffer with physical ailments. We are on the same team.  

Please remember, mental illness doesn't discriminate. So, if you yourself do not suffer, your daughter may someday. or your best friend. Or your son. Or your grandson. It is all around us. Please be kind. Educate yourself. And know that many suffer in silence every single day. Spread compassion and LOVE; I understand that until you've been in a dark room with us, kneeling at our bed side as we convulse and hyperventilate with tears streaming down our faces, you don't know what it's like. You don't have to know what it's like in order to love us. Just stand by us through the bad days, and relish in our good days.



That's what I would like people to know about Bipolar.