Meet Me, Meet My Mental Illness Too

Meet me at Starbucks.      Meet me in ten minutes.

Meet me for lunch. Meet me with your kids.

Meet Me for a chat.           Meet me, I have your books.      Meet me and I’ll tell you.

                                   Meet me.

Meet me.

When you do, I may seem like any other person, and I am, but I am also a part of a global community that is growing larger every year. It is the community of people who have a mental illness.

I have Bipolar type II and Depression. I am starting this blog to bring awareness to mental illness and to do what I can to reduce the stigma attached to it. There will be a mix of blog pieces and fictional stories straight from my head to yours, that I hope will resonate with you, bring you some understanding and mostly, bring you enjoyment.

I live in Perth, Western Australia with my husband and three children. I enjoy sunsets and an ice cold glass of sav blanc. I am a foodie and a coffee snob and I drive an ostentatious four wheel drive, like everybody else in WA. I am just the girl next door. Except I have a mental illness. Well two of them, but who’s counting 😛

I was diagnosed with post natal depression after the birth of our first child and then again after the births of our other two children. I was medicated the first time, Zoloft was the drug of choice. We didn’t get on. It made me feel numb. Even more numb than I was before I went on it. So if numb was a scale between ‘ice on your burn’ and ‘Sansa Stark’, Zoloft had me pledging my allegiance to the North.

I was not medicated with our second child as I didn’t realise what was happening and did not seek help. It was rough. Our third child was born seven years later. I recognised my nemesis when I started appreciating a certain James Blunt song a little too much and considered driving off a bridge a few too many times. I went straight to the GP and scored off the scale on the depression test. Efexor has been my friend ever since.

I was not diagnosed with bipolar until I was 39. When I think about it, the signs were there much, much earlier. I was prescribed Lithium and my mood has stabilised as much as it can.

A mental illness diagnosis, I have found, does not mean that I have had to stop being who I have always been. It has not meant that I have grown a second head or a fifth limb or needed to run away and join a circus as the caged freak. Being diagnosed with a mental illness has helped me find my purpose. But for some, this is the exact opposite of their experience. Stigma is an ugly word and it unfortunately makes mutes out of those who should be able to express themselves freely. My hope is that through my writing, I can offer encouragement for others who have mental illnesses and insight to those who care for them, and ultimately go a little way to lifting the stigma from something that is as natural as breathing.