A Creative Alternative to Self-Harm That Actually Works

A Creative Alternative to Self-Harm That Actually Works

Self-harm is not something I talk about often, however, it is part of my past and my journey living with bipolar disorder. I can tell you that it was not a cry for help. No one noticed, and the majority of those who are closest to me will find out through this post that it even happened. I believed cutting would release the pain, almost as if it was trapped in my body and needed a way to escape. Therapists used to give me a list of coping skills that lasted for a day and then ended because they did not work. Take five deep breaths and count to ten! The main issue with these types of techniques was that I could not visually see the progress. Read more

‘Van Gogh Is Bipolar’ Cafe: How a Restaurant Explores and Empowers People with Bipolar

‘Van Gogh Is Bipolar’ Cafe: How a Restaurant Explores and Empowers People with Bipolar

I jumped from the couch spilling cereal all over my shirt reaching for my computer both excited and in disbelief when I saw my moms text message, “Must check out this restaurant-Van Gogh is Bipolar!” A small restaurant located in the Philippines named after Vincent van Gogh and designed to capture features of a bipolar mind.

These are the stories of people living with bipolar disorder that get left out of the mainstream media. These are the stories that could one day create a much larger platform for individuals living with mental illness to feel empowered by what makes them different. I have spent the last couple days gathering information about this restaurant, but to start for those of you who are curious about Van Gogh’s connection to bipolar disorder let me explain. Read more

Want to Start a Mental Health Instagram Account? Heres How to Do It

Want to Start a Mental Health Instagram Account? Heres How to Do It

You want to become a mental health influencer and create an account on Instagram, but do not know where to begin? Don’t worry, you are not alone! When I published my blog, and created an Instagram account for it, I was in the exact same boat. Advocates are utilizing Instagram to talk about mental health, because it is dedicated to users who want to spread awareness about issues that matter. You have a voice, a story and a unique message that deserves to be shared. Once you’ve created it, make sure to message me on my Instagram so I can follow! So lets get started! Read more

The Dog Days: What Its like to Live with Schizophrenia

The Dog Days: What Its like to Live with Schizophrenia

Article By: Greyon Fernandes

Since my diagnosis, people have asked me: ‘What is it like to live with schizophrenia?’. Until this point, I’ve responded in a very clinical manner: ‘I had and still have intrusive thoughts’, ‘My speech gets distorted at times’ – clinically known as word salad or schizophrasia, ‘I suffer from tactile hallucinations’. I could go on.

Recently, however, I came across an event from the 1960s that accurately describes my experience with schizophrenia, “A visceral event – the kidnapping of Barbara Mackle”. Read more

6 Things You Should Know About People Living with a Mental Illness

6 Things You Should Know About People Living with a Mental Illness

Mental health is a topic that many people in society think they know so much about when in reality they know too little. Ignorance is the most devastating illness that plagues our society. The only cure is knowledge, so let me save you a co-pay and share the truth about people with a mental illness. Read more

Beautiful with a Bipolar Mind: An Interview with Author Julie Kraft

One of the best parts of being a mental health advocate is the connections you make to others with a similar passion for life and mental health. I was thrilled when Julie Kraft, author of the incredible book, The Other Side of Me: Memoir Of a Bipolar Mind, agreed to share part of her story with me. She is both beautiful on the outside and on the inside. In this interview, Julie shares her journey with bipolar disorder and opens up about motherhood, love, stigma and how a move from her home in Canada to Germany gave her clarity in a world that made her feel so clouded. Thank you, Julie, for speaking your truth. Read more

Body Image: 10 Rules To Follow When It Comes To Her Body

10 Rules To Follow When It Comes To Her Body

I will never forget when my ex would grab the rolls off the table as I would reach for them, and say to the waiter, “She doesn’t need these,” or all the times he asked for a togo box after I took my first three bites of a meal at a restaurant. I am not looking for sympathy by telling you this because I already disposed of that garbage. I am confirming that is type of cruel behavior actually happens, so proceed with caution. Body image issues are heavily present among women. We are surrounded by things that make us question our reflection constantly. The last thing we need is for our guy to do the same. So I am going to help you guys out. Here are 10 rules to follow when it comes to her body that could potentially save your relationship and your life.
Read more

Dear Dad: A Letter From Your Daughter With Bipolar

Dear Dad: A Letter From Your Daughter With Bipolar

The first man who had his heart broken by me was my father. One day the little girl who danced to the beat of her drum was laying in a hospital bed, withering away. My father has always kept me safe, but there was one person he could not shield me from, and that person was me. Read more

Inside the Mind of a 28-Year-Old With Bipolar 2

If you are looking for me to say how much I hate my life with bipolar 2 disorder, you will not find it in this post. It does not define me, but it is a major part of who I am. If you erase my bipolar disorder, you erase me as a whole. I am never going to live without it, and I want to give others a taste of my reality. I do not place pressure on myself to be perfect. I am honest. This is my mind; this is my journey. Here is a little bit of what it is like to live in the mind of a 28-year-old diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder. Read more

17 Things You Should Know About Dating A Girl With Mental Illness

Dating is hard enough with or without a chemical imbalance. People are heavily influenced by stigma which makes it challenging to build a romantic relationship with a girl who has a mental illness. As a young woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I know people struggle to see beyond the label that society has placed on me, so it is important I write this post. If you are dating a girl with a mental illness, toss your preconceived notions aside and get ready to see the world through a much more colorful lens.

17 Things You Should Know About Dating A Girl With Mental Illness

1. It is not expected of you to completely understand mental illness.

She does not expect you to be a book of knowledge about mental illness. Mental illness is meant to be a mystery, and those of us who live with it are the only ones who can truly understand the world that exists within us. It is not expected of you to completely understand, however, it is expected that you support us on our journey. I mean that is a rule in every relationship, right?

2. Mental illness does not define her.

If her mental illness blocks you from seeing her beauty and individuality than it is best to leave her be. People with mental illness are professionals, educated, well traveled, creative, artists and individuals. Do not judge her character based on her condition.

3. Listening is more important than fixing.

Mental illness cannot be fixed. It is not a broken table or flat tire. She does not, or shouldn’t expect you to know how to ‘fix’ her problem. In my experience, when a guy feels like they cannot come up with a logical solution, they become frustrated. It’s as simple as saying something along the lines of, “If you want to talk about whats going on, I’ll listen, but I can’t promise that I will know the answer.” Boom! I am making it easy for you. When it comes to my mental health, the only people that can help me solve my problem are my therapist and psychiatrist.

4. Do not blame all you relationship problems on her mental illness.

This is a biggie! Mental illness causes us to have emotional extremes, however, not every mood change or situation should be blamed on it. She is not a scapegoat. It is important to eliminate mental illness from the conversation, unless it is obvious that its the root of the problem. I accused my ex-boyfriend of cheating on me, and he tried to convince me that I was paranoid, and my bipolar disorder made him a victim. Unfortunately the girl he cheated on me with didn’t get the memo about texting, and turned out I was right about every single suspicious.

She never seemed shattered; to me, she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battle she’s won.-Matt Baker

5. Remember that she is probably self-conscious about her diagnosis.

Why are women with a mental illness self-conscious? Well, isn’t it obvious? Society puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on women to be flawless in every area. No matter how confident we are, stigma still follows us everywhere we go. If you love her, you’ll find ways to shed a positive light on mental illness. If you don’t have anything positive to say about mental illness, then do us all a favor and do not pursue anything further with her.

6. She is not pushing you away on purpose.

I am definitely a pusher! People with mental illness can say hurtful things or act like they don’t care, however, it is meant to protect you rather than to hurt you. Speaking from personal experience, it is difficult to trust others, and let people in to that part of my life.  This fear causes me to reject my feelings, and push him away. This does not mean these actions should be condoned, but confronted at an appropriate time. An apology will follow shortly after, and if not she may just be a bitch!

7. She does not want you to hide your feelings from her.

Be honest about your feelings with her.  Do not conceal your personal problems and feelings due to your fear that she will get upset. Relationships are based off of reciprocity.

8. Just because she is different, does not make her wrong.

She is probably different than other girls you have dated. Great! You obviously got bored with women who dress, act and think like everyone else. Life would be stale if everyone believed in the same things. Do not reject her because you are unfamiliar with the way she expresses herself. You may not fully understand her way of thinking, but do your best to listen and learn.

There are parts of me that will always remain untamable, messy, and reckless; but I refuse to apologize for it anymore.-Kaitlin Foster 

9. Mental illness is a disease, and should be treated as such.

If you believe mental illness is not real, then stop reading this blog post and cancel your next date or don’t move forward in your relationship. Save her from your ignorance. Not to be harsh, but anyone who does not believe mental illness exists is ignorant. If you love her put your personal bias about mental health to the side and educate yourself.

10. She can be overly sexual or not sexual at all.

People with mental illness can be extremely sexual at times. I know some of you are like, Score! However, there will be periods where not much is happening between the sheets. It may be due to medication or simply she is going through an episode of depression. Do not be offended or insecure! Be patient and it will come at its own time.

11. Sometimes she ignores her internal pain.

Contrary to what people believe, people with mental illness are usually the ones helping others with their problems. People with mental illness may try to cover up their internal pain by exerting themselves on the behalf of others. Just remember, do not always be deceived by her smile.

12. She wants to tell others about her mental illness.

The stigma of mental illness makes people feel obligated to hide their condition. She wants to explain her diagnosis to friends and family at her own time. The last thing you want to happen when introducing her to your mom is to hear, “Nice to meet you. Wow, you sure don’t look mentally ill!” It’s happened to me, so trust me when I advise you to let her come forward.

She had been through battle and though no one could her demons. They could see the face that conquered them.-Atticus

13. Like any relationship, there will be challenges.

Challenge is a part of life, whether you are dating someone with a mental illness or not. Do not freak the moment you notice a change in her emotional behavior. Overcoming these challenges will only make your relationship stronger. If it is too much for you to handle, then you may not be the right fit.

14. It is not doomed from the start because she has a mental illness.

Do not set your relationship up for failure. If you go into anything assuming you are going to fail then most likely you will fail. Let me leave you with this line by one of my favorite authors Jen Sincero, “What you choose to focus on becomes your reality.” 

15. Support her, do NOT try to save her.

My romantic partner finds out about my diagnosis & BOOM he rips open his shirt with a big ‘S’ on his chest. We don’t want to be treated like victims. You are accompanying her on this journey. In my opinion getting involved in the mental health community is the biggest way to show support. If my boyfriend told me he wanted to do a 5K for Suicide Prevention, I would be so turned on we probably wouldn’t even make it to the event. Trust me, you’ll meet some of the most passionate, empathetic and unique individuals. Your outlook on mental health will change in a good way!

16. Sometimes she will withdraw or be distant.

There is no doubt that at certain points she is going to be mentally distant from you. This has nothing to do with her love for you. It means one of two things-she do not want to bother you with her problems or she needs a moment to reflect. If it continues, there is the option that she is just not that into it anymore. Sorry!

17. Embrace what makes her different. 

Just because we are different does not make us wrong. Our truth is what makes us beautiful, so embrace what makes he different and do not fear what you do not understand.

She was never crazy, she just didn’t let her heart settle in a cage. She was born wild,and sometimes we need people like her. For it’s the horrors in her heart which cause the flames in ours. And she was always willing to burn for everything she has ever loved. -R.M Drake

 

If you are having trouble in your relationship, do not be afraid to suggest therapy. In 2018, counseling is easily accessible through online platforms and technology. Resources such as BetterHelp provide online couples counseling with licensed and professional therapists. There is no shame in reaching out for help if you want to make it work with your partner.