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
Dating is hard with or without a mental health condition. We have this overwhelming pressure to have the perfect body, perfect job, perfect social life and perfect mind. So you can imagine what it’s like when you have a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder. The stigma of mental illness sends a negative message to people. We are crazy! She’s a cheater! She’s unstable! So what is it like when you are actively dating with bipolar disorder? Lucky enough Teen Vogue contemplated the same question and reached out to me. I am so excited to share my interview with Teen Vogue. Check it out and please share.
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. Read more
Treatment plans for mental health care differ from situation to situation. In some cases, it calls for therapy and in other cases medication is needed. This doesn’t mean that when you wake up feeling sad, you call the doctor and start popping pills. However, when depression or severe emotional behavior begins to affect your daily life, work and relationships, it is time to seek help. There is no shame in taking medicines if needed. If you get the flu do you take meds? Yes. So what is the difference when it is the flu of the mind. There is none. Would you blame someone who lost her husband in war for seeking out medication for anxiety? Would you judge a woman for taking antidepressants who lost her child 2 months shy of his 1st birthday to cancer? We all want to end up at the same place, but some need to take a different route to the intersection of happy and healthy. There is no shame in that.
Reasons why people feel uneasy taking meds for the head… Read more
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. I already disposed of that garbage. I am letting you know this actually happens. 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 talking about body or weight to your girl that could potentially save your relationship, get you a second date or even asked upstairs.
10 Rules Every Guy Should Follow When It Comes To Her Body… Read more
We have all seen the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, and Kat’s memorable speech to Heath Ledger at the end of the movie. Familiar? While reading this post, think about Stigma as if it is a person. Stigma has influenced many in society to make negative assumptions about mental health conditions. Stigma is like a bully.
1o things I hate about stigma… Read more
It was six years ago that I had my first major episode with Bipolar 2 while in College. I was living with a group of girls who this story is about. In the last month before I withdrew from school, I kept my struggle hidden from others, especially myself. Two days before I left, my parents were called by 2 of my friends. They told them that I was falling apart. Day by day I was getting worse. They realized they couldn’t help me, and decided not to tell the other girls. I do not like to talk about the pain of the past. However, a few days ago I learned that sometimes it is necessary to walk down memory lane, no matter how dark the road is… Read more
The stigma of mental illness SUCKS! It is so bad that it causes those in the mental health community to ask, Why does the public have such a deep misconception about mental health? The images relayed to the public pertaining to mental health are disturbing to say the least. To reduce this “madness” we have to acknowledge the ridiculousness of the images, and words, used to describe mental illness.
21 images that make you say to yourself, “Oh thats why people think the way they do about mental illness!” Read more
I was walking through a dark tunnel, no light to be seen. All I could hear were the echoes of my own voice. In the moment that I wanted to stop, to give up on finding the light, I felt the strength and confidence you had instilled in me over the years, prior to this moment. You didn’t come into the tunnel to guide me to the light, for you knew that would not help me in the end. You gave me the knowledge, the power and confidence to overcome this battle prior to me entering. As I walked into the light again, you were standing there gleaming with joy saying to me, “I never doubted you Hannah….I knew you wouldn’t give up.”-Halway2hannah
The first man who had his heart broken by me,was my father. To see the little girl who danced to the beat of her own drum laying in a hospital bed, withering away only 19 years later; he could protect me from everything in my life, but the one person he couldn’t protect me from was me.
This is a letter to my father from his daughter with bipolar… Read more
It is the first time in years you have been decently balanced on the beam. You wobble, but not falling off is good enough for you. And then you look behind you, and you see it coming…Love…and your feet hit the floor.
We are the patients of love. So do you take the chance that you may hit the floor again? Is it worth it? First we have to acknowledge the reasons for why we fear the most beautiful part of life.
We are petrified of falling in love & this is why…
1. …because it means we will finally have to let our guard down.
We will finally be forced to share the story that we have yet to share with ourselves. To be open and reveal our insecurities with the fear that someone will take advantage of our vulnerability.
2. …because we are afraid that our love won’t be reciprocated.
Relationships are never 50/50, and this is normal. However, when it becomes 80/20, and we are on the 80 side of the equation, it emphasizes our insecurities. It makes us feel weak, and powerless, building our inner wall a little higher when it comes to love.
3. …because we are petrified that he/she will not accept our flaws.
Revealing our authentic selves is difficult. It is scary to think that at the point in your life when you have finally embraced your imperfections, someone could come along, and make you think the opposite. Being single seems worth it if it means we do not have to revert back to resenting the parts of us that we have been working towards accepting.
4. …because if it does not work, it breaks a little piece of us.
Because each time our heart breaks, it breaks a piece of our minds and our soul. And too many chips falling off could lead to the whole thing breaking. It undeniably hurts, and as time goes on you may lose hope that love even exists. A thought that is truly tragic.
5 ….because longing and lusting for him/her is just as scary as it is pleasurable.
Love is passion, and this is a beautiful element of it. However, allowing someone to come into your life, and maintain this type of power over your body and mind can be just as scary, as it is pleasurable.
6. …because we might bring the baggage of our past relationships into the next.
You fear that the damage done by ex-lovers will tag along with you into your next potential relationship. It is hard to admit to yourself that someone from your past has had a negative influence on your present behaviors. You don’t want to take baggage into your next relationship, so you are fearful about entering into one.
So what do we do…
We acknowledge our past, and confront our fears. We take the risk, and fall in love. If there is one thing in this world that is worth risking a lot for, it is love. Love opens you up to new possibilities, and whether it fails or succeeds, relationships build your character.
Only reveal your authentic self when it is deserved. Trust is to be earned, not given. Enjoy the ride while it lasts, and if you hit the ground again, tell yourself that you are going to use the pain as a stepping stone to a successful future in life, and love.