3 Ways I Manage Bipolar Disorder: How Do You Cope?

On my new HealthyPlace YouTube video, I share three ways I manage my bipolar 2 disorder. There is one main rule I live by when it comes to maintaining my mental health, and that is this, “Do not place pressure on yourself to be perfectly stable!” Placing the pressure on ourselves to manage our condition in hopes that it will rid us of it ends up in failure. Now that I have accepted and embraced my life with bipolar 2 disorder, I define the guidelines that I go by when it comes to managing my mental health.

Please watch my video and share a couple ways you manage your mental health in the comment section on this YouTube video. Looking forward to your comments. Thanks!

 

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Bipolar and Relationships: Quit Using My Bipolar Against Me

On my new HealthyPlace YouTube video, I discuss my experience with relationships as someone living with bipolar 2 disorder. There is one specific relationship I talk about, and it is evident in the video that it is something that still affects my life present day. A relationship where a form of manipulation known as gaslighting was involved.

Watch my video, and share your thoughts or experience in the comment section of my YouTube video. Do a response video and send it into info@healthyplace.com. Thanks!

An Interview with the Queen of Dealing with Disaster

When you meet Donita, you are immediately comforted by her free spirit and authentic attitude. She is gravitating and one of the most selfless individuals I know. In a world filled with selfish people, it is rare to stumble upon a beautiful gem like Donita. However, it has been a difficult road to get where she is today. At the young age of 18, Donita received a diagnosis of Bipolar 1 disorder. She admits that there were moments in her life where the light at the end of the tunnel seemed impossible to reach. In spite of those challenges Donita’s strength and spirit carried her through darkness into light.

Donita is a mental health advocate, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) volunteer, and “In Our Voice Presenter.” Outside of her work in advocacy, she is busy being a wife, mother and business owner. Wonder Woman right? Her story is unique and compelling. Today I want to share a little piece of the gift she has shared with me, in a very personal interview about her life as a young adult living with bipolar disorder, past and present.


What did your life look like before your diagnosis of bipolar disorder? What does it look like now?

Before my diagnosis, I was doing drugs, including hallucinogens and methamphetamines. I was kicked out of high school and sent to alternative school. I was told to “stop it” and “behave.” By the time I was 16, I had a newborn baby boy. I quit meth but was still drinking heavily. I attempted suicide at 18 when my son was nearing two years old. At that point, I went to the mental hospital and received a diagnosis of (manic depression) bipolar 1 disorder. I did not take my medications upon my release. No one encouraged treatment, or even asked how I was doing. I went right back to work and felt like a leper.

 

Four months later I met my husband. We fell deeply in love, but the cycles of my bipolar disorder deeply impacted us. After six more years of suffering with symptoms of mania, extreme irritability, depression and sometimes a feeling that everyone was against me, I had an “episode” in which I was screaming and crying for help. My husband held me on the ground until I calmed down. I clawed at the earth and broke my fingernails. When I calmed down, he said, “Do you remember when you were 18 when we first got together, and you told me you have bipolar disorder?” With tears in my voice, I responded, “Yes!” My husband said something that I will never forget, “Let’s do something about it together.” And we did.

 

What does life look like now, several years after your diagnosis?

 

My life is everything I dreamed. I am a wife and a mother. I can sleep now. It took medication, family support, and support groups, such as NAMI, for me to find peace within myself. My husband and I are successful business owners. My son also lives with bipolar disorder, but I am confident in myself, as a mother, and feel equipped to support him.

Tell me a little bit about your work as a mental health advocate?

 

A group of us with the local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) organization are continuing to go into the high schools (locally), to teach the 9th-grade health students about mental illness. “Mental Health” is listed on the North Carolina Curriculum for 9th graders, something they were not offering. Through “In Our Voice” we educate and reduce stigma. At the end of IOOV, “Anonymous” questionnaires are filled out by the audience. The responses of these kids are what make me feel accomplished. “I feel the same way,” some say. “Now I can help my mom,” says another. “This class helps me to be more understanding towards my friends,” said one. Some students even gave us their emails so that we could send them more information. The best/worst response and the reason I believe so firmly in this program is “I have thought about killing myself too. I didn’t know anyone else felt like that.” I was very young when my sleeplessness and depression began. I am so grateful for my recovery and the chance to educate and help someone else.


What awards have you received as an advocate?

During my time as President of our local NAMI chapter, we received the NC NMAI Affiliate of the Year award. We also received the Recovery Champion award.

How has being a wife and a mother impacted your life?

I could write a book on this topic. The long and the short of it is; when I was a little girl, all I wanted was to be a mother, a “good,” and honest mother. This goal kept me focused in my chaotic life. Having a child, and a husband doesn’t just give me purpose, it is my purpose. I am truly blessed to have met my desires and to have achieved satisfaction, at my young age.


What problems are we facing regarding our mental health care system in the US?

This is an important question. It has been studied and theorized that early care is less costly than emergency care. The difficulty is that creating an early care system would require money up front. The $ savings, from the emergency room to the jail, would not be immediate. As a politician seeking reelection, every dollar is scrutinized. Individuals with mental health conditions are not a significant percentage of the population. It is important to educate yourself, and to vote, and to support organizations like NAMI that have paid lobbyists who research and fight for what is needed in the mental health community.
 
Another issue is our Veterans. In America every day, 22 Veterans take their own lives. Veterans make up 30% of our homeless population (keeping in mind that Veterans are less than 0.5% of the TOTAL population). I firmly believe the military budget has room for these brave men and women….. And as an American, I am appalled at these numbers.


Outside of the challenges you face living with bipolar disorder, what do you love about your bipolar mind if anything at all?

My bipolar mind is my mind. I am creative and empathetic, is this me or the condition? I love my whole self; this is how I thrive. I might not have survived the events of my childhood, without my bipolar. It kept me defensive and angry, inquisitive and awake and helped me define myself at a young age. My husband believes that bipolar may be a human adaptation; Bipolar individuals are the kings and queens of dealing with disaster.


What advice would give to someone who is struggling with their mental health?

You are not alone. Read! Read! Read! Get involved in peer support groups. See a doctor. Give any new coping skills or medications a proper trial run, before abandoning them. Fill your life with positive music, etc. Follow places like The Healthy Place, and other positive groups on Instagram, Youtube, etc., to see inspirational quotes on your feed… providing balance to online negativity. Identify behaviors that can make mental conditions worse, ie, drinking/doing drugs, choosing drama, not sleeping, etc. Identify your “triggers” to avoid mental health slips. It is OK to take care of yourself!!! Peace is real.


Donita’s Top Three Quotes:

I doubt sometimes whether a quiet and unagitated life would have suited me – yet I sometimes long for it. -George Gordon Byron


No one ever said life was fair, only eventful.-Carol Burnett


Information is the cure to fear. -Unknown


Donita’s Top Three Books to Read:

Love Is Letting Go Of Fear by Gerald G. Jampolsky
The Isaiah Effect by Gregg Braden
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg


Donita has been so kind to share her email for those of you who are interested in reaching out to her.

Contact her at Happydonita@gmail.com. Thank you Donita for being the beautiful gem you are and sharing part of your story with us today. You are such an inspiration.

It’s Time We #SlayStigma And Talk About Mental Health in a Bold Way

Sunday’s are for Slaying Stigma, as I announced tonight on my Instagram @halfway2hannah. I am redecorating my account and confronting mental health in a bold way. I have been working on this renovation for the last couple months, coming up with ideas to talk about stigma and mental health in unique and vibrant way. I will be sharing personal stories from my journey living with bipolar 2 disorder on images captured by the beautiful photographer Jillian Clark. Sharing mental health awareness, inspirational quotes and bad ass statements!

One of the major reasons I am doing this is to get people to speak up about mental health and the issues facing society by sharing their thoughts and/or experience in the comment section. Mental health pertains to all of us, with or without a condition, so join me by following my Instagram (@halfway2hannah). I look forward to getting to know you!

 

 

A Personal Success Story from My Life with Bipolar. Whats Yours?

On my new HealthyPlace YouTube video, I am celebrating my 28th birthday by sharing a personal success story.  On Monday, September 11th, I took another step into my late twenties with a grateful heart, unfiltered attitude, and colorful hair! Although many people complain about getting older, I embrace aging to the fullest and how could I not? On September 11th, 2001 so many innocent individuals lost their lives. It is a constant reminder of how fortunate I am to be alive.

In case you forgot to buy me a gift don’t worry because it’s not too late. One major goal of this video is to encourage you to share a success story from your life living with a mental health condition. C’mon tell me something that you are proud of! Share your story in the comment section of my YouTube video or do a response video and send it into info@healthyplace.com!

 

Bipolar & ADHD: A Double Whammy!

It took years for me to find the right routine of medication after I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder. My mood was stabilized, but my inability to focus and complete projects still kept me from truly thriving. Bipolar and ADHD is a topic with some controversy attached, being that some of the medications used to treat ADHD can have a negative effect on individuals with bipolar disorder. However, a diagnosis of ADHD along side bipolar disorder had the opposite effect on my life. In my new HealthyPlace video, I share what life was like before receiving the proper treatment for a condition, that majority of my doctors were unwilling to address.

Please share your thoughts and experience on my YouTube channel and check out my other videos! Want to hear what you have to say!

Bipolar and Anger: The Ice Queen

I have always been hesitant to talk about bipolar and anger. It has such a negative connotation, and people relate it to extreme violence and unpredictable madness. This is not necessarily the case, and in my experience, the part I struggle with is my lack of emotion when it comes to getting angry with those closest to me. The extremes of bipolar disorder are evident in my reactions being that I am either loud or silent. I can be in your face or completely withdrawn. In my new Healthyplace video, I share my experience going from warm and loving to an Ice Queen.

Keeping It Candid On “I’m​ Bipolar Too” Blog

I started my journey with HealthyPlace.com almost a year ago. I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my experience and talk about mental health in an authentic and open way. The adventure continues on my HealthyPlace blog, “I’m Bipolar Too.” There will be new posts every Tuesday and Thursday morning. I am getting personal, sharing advice and keeping it candid about mental health. Share your thoughts and experience in the comment section of posts or do a response video and send it into info@healthyplace.com.

Also, don’t forget to keep up with my HealthyPlace YouTube channel! New videos every Monday morning. Again, please share your experience or do a video for us. You have a story, a voice, and it deserves to be heard. Please subscribe if you have not had a chance!

 

 

 

 

Revealing My Life with Bipolar on Voices for Change 2.0 Podcast

This past Saturday, March 4th, I had the opportunity to speak with Rebecca and Joe Lombardo on their blog talk radio show Voices for Change 2.0 podcast. Prior to the show, people always ask me one particular question, “Are you nervous Hannah.” The part of me that always puts on a strong front answers, “No not at all. I am used to this by now.” The other part of me answers, “Hell yeah I am nervous.” The show was live, meaning anything I revealed stuck like glue. Luckily for me, Rebecca Lombardo eased my nerves days prior to the show. We talked about the podcast, but no specifics. It is better not to have the questions prior to a show like this. The thing that put me most at ease, was that Rebecca has bipolar disorder as well and has been sharing her story for years. For an hour we talked about our work as mental health advocates, the future of mental health and parts of our own story living with bipolar disorder.

On Saturday I was asked questions pertaining to my diagnosis of bipolar 2 and what it has been like coming forward. We discussed my experience in media and the importance of utilizing mediated platforms to spread awareness. We took people who called in with questions. One caller requested an answer to the golden question that I think many people hesitate to ask me. How is dating for you Hannah? Take a listen to the podcast to find out what I say.

Please follow this amazing podcast on their journey via Twitter @Voices4ChangeRJ.

Handling Bipolar Extremes

It is a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply. I have always looked for the meaning in everything and although this has made me successful, it has also caused me to react to situations in unnecessary ways. Always overanalyzing the behaviors of people and different situations is exhausting. This is a part of living with bipolar 2 disorder. As I get older my emotional extremes have caused me to build a barrier between me and other people. In this video, I talk about living with these types of extremes and how “open dialoguing” has helped in this process.

 

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Twitter: @halfway2hannah