On Living, Fighting & Thriving

I’m thrilled to present a guest blogger. Meet Courtney, aka BeePea. She is bipolar. She is fighting so many battles and appears to be winning them. When I first started reading her, I had always wondered if I myself was bipolar. A friend had told me he thought I was. And I wondered, so I asked her about it. Then we exchanged a few emails, and I invited her to write a guest post for my oh so highly popular blog *ahem*. And now it’s your turn to fall in love with her…………………………..

"Slightly" modified image captured from BeePea's blog
“Slightly” modified image captured from BeePea’s blog

Sometimes you meet someone online and immediately know you’re kindred spirits. No, I haven’t been a race car mechanic, but that was an awesome guess. It’s on a deep level. A primal level.

A love the heck out of living and kicking some serious butt level.

Right now, I’m living with bipolar disorder and PTSD. I’m managing them. I’m fighting them.

I hear this a lot. “He lives with AIDS; she fights depression.” And I get it because I’m in it at the moment, but my goal has never been to maintain, manage or live with any of these illnesses.

My goal is to thrive.

IMAG0480
Photo from my personal collection.

At 24-years old, I got sober. I couldn’t go a day without drinking and most of the time I drank, I used drugs. I hit bottom and could only see two choices in that darkness:

  1. Get help.
  2. Kill myself.

I went to a 12-step program because I knew I couldn’t get sober alone and I couldn’t afford rehab. I fought alcoholism hard. I wanted to drink for the first 2 years. It was a battle. Then I started to live with the disease – I recognized it, but it didn’t own me.

When I started helping other women climb out of their own alcoholic hells, I thrived. I got free. And life got good.

Then, after grad school, I hit a suicidal depression that would not lift. At the end of 5 months of barely surviving with no fight left, I could only see two choices in that darkness:

  1. Get help.
  2. Kill myself.
daisy
Royalty free image from istockphoto.com

I went to a mental hospital, got on meds, found a therapist and started to fight. I fought hard for 2 years and then I got some freedom. As my head got balanced and after the anger for being robbed of the first 33 years of my life not knowing the noise of my brain actually was optional, I started to thrive. I enjoyed life on a whole new level. I traveled all over the world. I loved. I played.

Life was good.

Then my husband and I decided to have a baby. I got pregnant right away and 7 weeks later, I lost that pregnancy. Besides the sadness of miscarriage, I had to get a DNC, which made my hormones go from pregnant to nothing in a second. I fell into a bad depression and I reached for one of my only vices left – sugar.

I gained 30 pounds in a matter of months.

Then I fought the sugar addiction, joined the most hardcore 12-step food program out there and lost that 30 pounds and another 7 while I was at it. I was looking and feeling great!

You know what happens next, right? I thrived! Wahoo!

Then I got pregnant and had a baby and I’ve been struggling like crazy just to keep my head above water. And I’m tired.

But I’m fighting… finally.

The first year postpartum I was drowning. All I could do to survive was eat sugar and drink Coke Zero’s. My friends didn’t know what the heck to do with me. My husband was terrified.

Oh, and I had a baby to take care of, like, all the time.

In the midst of all of that, I outed myself as bipolar on Facebook, and subsequently started blogging about mental health. I figured if I was already out, why not.

That baby is now 16-months old (and is now walking – yay little dude!) and my blog has helped tons of people, which, in turn, helps me. My heart keeps expanding with all the comments and support I receive.

Yes, occasionally some hater comes in and takes a giant poop on my parade, but while it hurts, it’s so rare compared to the outpouring of love I experience on a daily basis that the sting subsides rather quickly.

Image taken from my personal collection - wall art from Montreal.
Image taken from my personal collection – wall art from Montreal.

And it’s not just other bipolar peeps who dig the blog. My readers have all sorts of different experience with mental illness, some are even sober or trying to get sober and they get hope there as well. Others are just cool people who find all this stuff pretty interesting.

This is how I met the rockstar Marie. She hopped on my Facebook page and asked me the simplest and hardest question I’ve ever been asked about being bipolar.

“How do you know you’re bipolar?”

And that started our online relationship. One question. The longest answer. But the beginning of something new.

Then she asked me to write a guest blog for her site, which is such an honor and a privilege to throw my word arrangement on someone else’s cyber land. Very cool stuff.

What I like about Marie is her zest for living, which I truly believe is impossible without an open mind. The person who asks questions is the one who gets answers. They may not always be the answer I was looking for and oftentimes they only bring about more questions, but the thriving is in the seeking.

And I’m still fighting, but I’m on the cusp of thriving. I can taste the freedom. There’s a bright light at the end of this tunnel and I feel strongly that it isn’t an oncoming train.

Without the fight, I cannot thrive. The fight is necessary. There is always work to be done, but if it’s all drudgery, I’d rather be drunk and high in a dive bar, thank you very much.

The choices were the same this time as they always have been before:

  1. Get help.
  2. Kill myself.

But now that I’m fighting, I see more and more choices on the horizon. My mind is open and I’m seeking. My medications have stopped working. I had to accept that before I was willing to be open to alternative therapies.

And once I started seeking and questioning, so many teachers have appeared and continue to appear. More questions appear. But answers do, too. And the teachers are everywhere – I see them more and more – not only in the flesh, but in books, on YouTube, on blogs – there are so many experiences and answers out there it’s sometimes overwhelming.

And to thrive I have to remember that what makes one thrive doesn’t necessarily work for another. I seek and I listen to my inner voice. My intuition. My mind, body and spirit.

We who want to thrive can spot each other pretty easily. I’m finding myself attracted to healthy, thriving, zesty souls. Their lights shine so bright that it feels good to be with them. They elevate me and I them.

In the end, I’m grateful for the darkness. I am. Because without it the light wouldn’t be as brilliant and delicious. Without it I may just be living with alcoholism, bipolar, PTSD and forget that I can thrive.

So I’ll end by asking you a simple question:  Are you fighting or thriving? 

………………………………………
Get more BeePea here! And don’t forget to like her, love her on Facebook here. And tweet away with her here!

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11 thoughts on “On Living, Fighting & Thriving”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! As someone who suffers and deals with depression herself, I can relate to the initial apprehension at “outing” yourself on your blog, but I’ve found the support to be amazing and that so many people can relate on different levels. I think that depression, and specifically bipolar depression, are often diagnosed when in reality it’s simply moodiness at the trials of life. But for many who are clinically diagnosed and dealing every day, it can be hard to survive, much less thrive.

    It’s about choosing to fight every day, every hour and it looks as though you do just that!

    Like

  2. I’m bipolar also, and generally, I thrive. But there are some things that will always be a battle for me. I hated the first postpartum year both times I had a kid, but the youngest is five, I’ve had a hysterectomy, and everything is going great right now.

    Like

  3. What a story so glad you guest posted her I couldn’t stop reading and thought wow how bloody strong are you…………you keep making the right choice since if you didn’t you wouldn’t be here to write this awesome post……..it didn take me a moment to find the link to your blog but I did so I will be going over for a visit…………..ha ha ha………….you have me to look forward to…………lol

    Like

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