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January 30, 2019 is Bell Let's Talk day in Canada. It's a day where Canadians everywhere are invited to discuss mental health issues. Oh, and of course, a day to promote Bell. There is no shortage of people who are critical of this aspect—the fact that it is a giant, multi-billion dollar company using mental health awareness to get its own name out there. Regardless, the concept is a good one because discussing mental health is never a bad thing. So, despite the criticism, it's a good day to openly discuss mental health. And it gives me a chance to talk about ME! Who doesn't want an opportunity to talk about themselves, am I right?
So, in the spirit of Bell Let's Talk day, I wrote a Facebook status about my own struggles with mental illness. Here it goes:
"My battle with bipolar 2 has cost me pretty much everything. I lost my best friend and wife, my family, my home, my security, my whole way of life. It has made it almost impossible to hold down a full-time job and I have been on disability for a long time now. It's such a tiring fight against this stupid disease. So often, I have been a person that I just don't want to be, but the disease does its own thing and I often feel powerless. I hurt people that are around me. I've had major blowouts where I've screamed at people in public ("bipolar rage"). I've missed so many activities with the family because I've just been too depressed or agitated to do anything. I've lost days and weeks to deep depression. I've spent so much time talking to counselors and therapists, have been in group therapy, take a mountain of medication (with unpleasant side effects like fatigue and weight gain), all of which have helped, but have not made the disease go away. I have to fight hard every single day to stay afloat. This disease is devastating. Just when I think I have it under control it rears its ugly head and reminds me who is really boss over my brain. It's my reality. For the most part I hate it. But it's what I have to deal with."
I have not enjoyed having bipolar 2, as you can tell. It truly has been a real pain in the butt. I have struggled with it for as long as I can remember, and it looks like I will struggle with it for many more years to come. I have times when I am stable and I am able to function. But I have a lot of time where I am not stable and that is when things get difficult for both me and the people closest to me. I know I will never get rid of this disease. I'm just stuck with it. The best I can do is manage it as best as possible, and I really have tried to do that. I take my medications faithfully and I seek out treatment. It helps, but I still must fight it.
I know I'm not alone. There are way too many people who have the same struggle as I do, and often have it much worse than me. I feel grateful, for example, that I don't have bipolar 1 with its manic phases. Those seem to get people in a lot more trouble and cause even greater chaos in the lives of those who have to battle it. I don't have it quite that bad. I haven't had issues with addiction. I haven't been in trouble with the law (yet). I haven't ended up living on the streets or in a homeless shelter. I haven't attempted suicide. I'm in much better shape than some who have to suffer through so much more. But what I DO have to go through is, indeed, tough. And I get tired of it. I get tired of the fight. I don't want to give up. I want to live and I want to try and stay stable as much as possible. But, regardless, I do get tired of the fight.
So, yes, this day might be one where a giant corporation tries to profit from the sharing of mental health stories, but at least the stories are getting out there. I see people across social media sharing their experiences with mental illness and feel that the day is worth it. It's a good day to share.