My episodes seem to come out of nowhere when I ignore everyday triggers and find it hard to admit that—even as a proud “supermom”—I sometimes need backup. Finding a signal for support has made a big difference.
“Here We Go
Well, here we go again. Most
of us with bipolar know this phrase all too well. That dreadful feeling of
knowing you are in the process of going through another high, or another low—both
equally exhausting. It’s a good thing we are fighters because, dang, even
though some days feel
like they are going to be impossible to get through, somehow, we still get
But what about the not-so-hard
days? What about the day-to-day “stuff” that no one ever imagines being
complicated when they hear the word bipolar? It may be hard for someone without this diagnosis to
understand; and, at times, it can be even harder for the one with bipolar to
articulate what they are going through. But I’ve discovered that one of the
hardest parts of living with this brain-based illness is the day-to-day
management of small triggers. My “stuff.”
Maybe it’s that the TV is up just a
little bit too loud, and the kid is playing, and the husband is talking, and
the eggs are cooking—and it’s too overwhelming. Or maybe it’s the lady on the
phone who doesn’t seem to want to help you, and no matter how much you
rationalize with her, you two just can’t seem to get on the same page. Or maybe
it’s that car that cuts you off on your way to work. These all feel like huge,
insurmountable obstacles placed specifically on your path, to derail you.
Is this sounding familiar?
Sure, I might not snap right there
in the moment. I might bite my tongue, grin and bear it, try to keep a calm and
cool composure—basically, do the opposite of the stereotype everyone imagines.
But after all of these small triggers add up, and even though I’m keeping cool,
the truth is I’m not myself. And who wants to live that way?
Up & I Fall Down
Life is a lot for anyone to handle,
let alone when you feel at odds with your emotions. I’ve found that the less I
acknowledged my triggers, the more I piled up on myself. This inevitably led to
more episodes. And, worse, nobody could understand why I was breaking down—because just two
days ago, I was cooking the eggs while doing a handstand with music blasting while
playing with the kid and carrying on a conversation with the husband.
Then, “suddenly,” this week, the
lady on the phone is making me cry?
For the longest time, I believed
that I had to handle it by myself. I believed that I had to conquer anything
and everything. I’m the woman who can organize her entire house in four hours
or clean through the night without needing sleep. I’m that superhero. I can
handle anything. I can DO anything …
And superheroes aren’t supposed to
have to ask for help.
Or so I thought.
Why couldn’t both be true? Why did
I feel like I had to handle it all myself, or that asking for help somehow made
me weak? Did I really believe that one man could build the pyramids on his own?
That’s when I realized that if
everyday life was going to get any better for me, I would have to change
something. So, as much as it sucked to swallow my pride and step outside of my
usual supermom persona, I began to do the one thing I was so insistent upon not
I asked for help.
Superheroes Have Support
I realized all of those small,
little, tiny triggers, all of that “stuff,” became the straw on my camel back. And
instead of shoving down those triggers and emotions to keep pushing forward
until I broke, I learned to identify when I was feeling triggered and what was
causing it. Then take a moment to step outside of it and ask for help when I
A sacred phrase in my household
became, “I’m struggling right now.”
When my husband hears those words,
he knows. He knows it’s too much. He knows that even though I am still that
superhero he married, every Batman needs his Robin. Then he swoops in to help
me save the day until I can find my cape again.
Jessica Whitaker is a writer, photographer, and mother from Southern California. She has lived with mental health conditions and substance abuse since she was a child, and she finally found answers with a dual diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and bipolar II disorder. Through years of hard work; a communicative relationship with her psychiatrist; and many, many failures and successes, Jessica has learned how to monitor her behaviors and become self-aware in order to not only manage her symptoms but also flourish in all areas of her life. She was able to achieve sobriety in 2017 and has persevered—continuing to run a successful photography and cinematography business, Luminescent Photo & Cinema Co. She now hosts workshops to educate and uplift aspiring photographers and share her passion. She spends the rest of her time writing, with plans to publish her first full-length poetry book in 2020. Through her blog posts, Jessica Whitaker aims to help others find self-love and acceptance, as well as provide them with tools to lead a happier, healthier life. She believes that we should all embrace ourselves, and she finds connection in sharing her own experiences with readers. Her goal in life is to spread as much love, light, and positivity as she can; and she hopes to impact as many lives as possible, helping people heal and grow into the best versions of themselves. She wants her readers to not just survive but thrive.
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