Jen’s guest post is the 16th post in the segment on my blog, called “The Reality Of…” which gives others the ability to share their story and raise awareness of the disabilities, illnesses, impairments and invisible illnesses that they have.
Hi, my name is Jen. I’m from a small town called Cedar Lake in Northwest Indiana. Although we tend to just tell people we are from Chicago, since we are about 45 minutes outside of the city. I am married to my love of 14 years, and we have two amazing kiddos who are 4 and 2.5. I live with bipolar disorder (type 2). I have had depression since about 1995, but was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010.
For me, my disease is rapid cycling. I also suffer from mixed episodes. So, what that means is: Instead of the classic cycling between a depressive state and a manic state, I experience both phases at the same time. Often simultaneously. My depression is fatigue and hopelessness, and my mania is irritability and anxiety/stress. I have never been reckless in my manic phases, thankfully, and engaged in dangerous behavior. That is a struggle many people living with bipolar disorder face.
My illness makes me tired and self-conscious. I am always very aware of my bipolar behavior, and regret my negative actions instantly. That typically triggers a swing into depression and a feeling that tells me I will never get better. My irritability makes me cranky and unaffectionate, and my fatigue significantly affects my quality of life.
Learning To Adapt
I have learned to take my day one hour at a time. Since my moods and the way I feel physically is ever changing, it has been hard, of late, to structure my day. I have to just play it by ear, based on how I am feeling at the time. My loved ones are aware of my illness, and are very supportive and understanding. I get a lot of help with the kids from my mother and father, and my mother-in-law, which I am very grateful for.
Changing As A Person
Living with this illness has made me more empathetic. It’s made me realize that you can’t always tell the journey someone takes just by looking at them. It’s made me more mindful of my own behavior. In many ways, it has also made me more courageous. I have found comfort and strength in sharing my journey with others.
My Favourite Superhero
I love Batman. I love his journey, which starts with intense grief and trauma, and causes him to become a force for good in Gotham. He grows stronger through facing his struggles, and uses his grief to fuel him toward a higher purpose.
Thanks Jen for sharing your story with my readers and me!