I have a passion for storytelling, and the desire to see people accept and even embrace the journey that makes up their own personal story. It’s taken some time, but I’ve grown to see the beauty of the path I’ve walked. My hope is that we can can discover the purpose of our trials, and ultimately encounter the passionate and furious love of God, the Savior who refuses to leave our side. Here’s a little bit of my journey:
As I’ve explained, when I was nineteen years old I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This illness, a chemical imbalance that can be debilitating, led me to two hospitalizations in psychiatric wards throughout my time in college. After my recovery, I was convinced that things would never be the same. Fear suffocated me, my future seemed dim. I had a desperate desire to be normal, to accomplish my goals.
I managed my illness but as time passed, I truly wanted to be married. With that desire came the lie that I could never be loved by a potential husband because of my disorder. I played the constant “what if” game. What if I get sick again? What if he couldn’t handle it? The questions haunted me, they caused me to doubt my confidence and not believe that I was worth being pursued. I couldn’t find freedom and acceptance of my circumstances. The cultural stigma created an ideology early on that I was somehow less than because of my diagnosis.
At a time when I never imagined it would happen, a long time friendship with my now husband Tripp, blossomed into a beautiful romance and I found true acceptance from someone who had been there all along. On Thanksgiving of 2016, he proposed to me and we got married in April of 2017. Two months later, the inevitable happened and I had my third episode. This time, I had the love of my life by my side, who showed me the most unbelievable support and unconditional love through my mania. Through unwavering faith in Christ, we pushed through it as a team, and I was back to myself in a matter of a couple months.
My greatest fear came to fruition as we dove into the unknown, and resurfaced more resilient than ever before. I now don’t just have a life that’s managed, but a life that’s flourishing. The experience infused my life with joy at the very time I least expected it. I talk about my illness often and provide support to those who currently find themselves where I’ve been. Simply put, I let them know they’re not alone.
I now know that a mental illness doesn’t have to define you, but it can shape you. Bipolar disorder isn’t a crippling disease, but a means to connect with others and an opportunity to demonstrate that struggles have a profound impact in showing you what you’re capable of overcoming. I have a passion for breaking the stigma of these disorders, and show that with support and faith, no matter how long it takes, you can thrive. It’s never too late to have the life you’d always imagined, one that’s a beautiful expression of restored hope.
In this new year, I’m compiling stories of my own along with tidbits of insight, as well as stories of others. These stories will highlight those who have faced seemingly hopeless situations to do with mental health issues. Some have found freedom and restoration, some are still in the midst of it. Both stories are beautiful and worthwhile. Both showcase the redemptive love and power of Jesus - who remains faithful despite the hard things these issues throw at us.
Whether mental illness is something you deal with personally, know someone who deals with it, or you’re simply interested in learning more, stick with me through this new little venture. My hope is you’ll find a new perspective through the stories of others. We need each other, we need a personal relationship with God and experience of His love. We need openness and vulnerability when it comes to the hard stuff, a way to embrace our stories. 2019, I’m excited for what you have in store.