Mental illness has been a constant thread in both my mother’s and father’s families, but something no one ever discussed. My grandfather attempted suicide in the 1950s, and went through an early form of electroshock therapy.
I was always a very “worried” child, who did her best to hide behind a smile and booming laugh. I am a singer, just like my parents and siblings are, but my brain was always telling me that I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t smart enough, and that I’d never amount to anything. I started having panic attacks when I was 15, and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. By 18, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Luckily, my family immediately began to learn all they could about the illness with me, and I also found a wonderful husband who is supportive through it all. I have attempted suicide multiple times, and been hospitalized over 30 times in my life. I am 36 years old now. I have regular ECT treatments, and take daily medications to help keep me “on an even keel”. I have a blog where I talk about my experiences with bipolar disorder and all its trimmings. I am very outspoken about changing the way we as a society look at mental illness and the people it affects. It is my hope that if enough of us come together and speak out, the stigma surrounding mental illness can be banished for good.
We are strong and we can do this.