Six years ago when I was 25 years old I suffered a bipolar psychotic break. I spent a night in an ER psychiatric unit (partly in solitary confinement), a week at a nearby psych ward, and then a month in an aftercare outpatient program before moving home to live in my parent’s basement. I had arrived at rock bottom. Needless to say, this event changed the course of my life. From inside a hospital I had to confront the illness that I had so easily swept under the rug during college. In the weeks, months, and years to come I had to find a way to accept that I had bipolar disorder, figure out how to best treat it, heal the trauma inflicted by my illness, and rebuild a life I wanted to live. Six years ago I wasn’t sure I could do that, but I am here to say that I did. You can too.
Interest in mental illness and wellbeing is more prevalent than ever. I hope that by sharing my journey I can help those who struggle and their families feel less alone. I also continuously work toward my longterm goals of contributing to both research and advocacy efforts. There are so many of the questions about Bipolar Disorder that are yet unanswered. Can scientists pinpoint the genes that cause it? Are there better medicinal therapies out there? How can we best intervene at an early stage to support those experiencing the onset of Bipolar Disorder and other debilitating mental illnesses? How can we improve the hospitalization experience? Ultimately, I am compelled to share my story and participate in collaborative advocacy groups to help drive change, inspire empathy, foster understanding, and reduce suffering.
Currently, I live with my awesome boyfriend in Seattle, Washington. I also keep busy by helping a friend and fellow mental health advocate with her exciting gemstone jewelry business. You can find her gorgeous collection at rebeccablumejewelry.com, and best of all 10% of her proceeds are donated to the National Institute of Mental Health!