My name is Nicole and I’m 26, the favorite second oldest daughter of my still married parents, favorite second oldest sister to one sister and two brothers, graduate of Indiana University’s master’s program in Public Administration, a swimmer, in love with water, 5’ 6”, addicted to slushies, living the yuppie life, fun-loving, and talkative.
Oh yeah—and there’s “something” wrong with me. Has been for as long as I can remember, but particularly since I was twelve. For ten years I referred to that “something” as the darkness, an evil presence, someone else living in my brain. However, at twenty-one, through some extraordinary circumstances—really an act of God—I saw a therapist who diagnosed me with panic disorder….since then its become obvious that the “something” runs deeper than that. Anxiety disorder (coupled with obsessive thoughts and panic attacks) and manic depressive (aka: Bipolar II disorder) are words that are now becoming common place in my life. I usually just group it all together and refer to it as my brain being broken…
When I think of my mental health adventure, two stories come to mind. The first occurred when I was crying in my room talking to my mom about going to see the therapist for the first time. She told me, “Nicole—I don’t think you’re depressed”. I responded “I don’t think so either, but something is wrong with me.” I choose this story because I’ve discovered so little is known or advertised about anxiety disorders and bipolar 11 disorder; depression is the mental illness our society knows most about. I wonder how my life would have been different if more information was available about my disorders growing up, and want to help create a world where others struggling are diagnosed and treated sooner.
The second occurred shortly into the therapy process. Rick, my first therapist and a hero of mine, asked me, “But if we put all this anxiety, depression, voices in your head, and mood swings on the shelf—what about that Nicole? Who is she?” And I just stared at him and said “She doesn’t exist”. For so long my identity has been tied up in the “something” and one peak of the adventure, is seeing myself as Nicole—all the things I listed above and more—a person who has value, and struggles with anxiety and depression. Not an anxious and depressed person. A small change in word order—but a huge change in perception….
So welcome to the 21st century where I can post my ramblings, thoughts, and hopefully insights and lessons learned online and expect people to read them. This blog has been an idea growing in the back of my head for a long while—so grab a board. I won’t say “walk with me” or “walk a mile in my shoes” because frankly, I’d probably trip, and I don’t tend to walk anyway. Hop, skip, jump, maybe. But if given the option to swim–always. So come ride thewaves with me–I can promise it will be a crazy adventure. How can it not be when you combine a naturally dramatic person with bipolar II disorder? But hopefully it will be fun, thrilling, educational, and leave you with a new appreciation for life!