Last night, after the boys went to sleep, Sam and I started talking about the mental health podcast I’ve been wanting to create. This idea of starting one, which would be about successful people who have/had to deal with a mental illness, has been on my mind for months. I’ve been daunted by the task because of several reasons; having to learn the technical aspects of starting up a podcast, finding guests to interview, and the natural fear of being judged by my family and friends. I’ve always been open in sharing that I have bipolar, I’m not ashamed by it, in fact, I think it’s kind of cool. 🙂 Truth be told, I’m probably in a hypomanic stage right now, I only slept about three hours last night yet I’m full of energy and excitement about what the future holds.
I’m now in week 2 of my altMBA course yet I have to say that I’ve been changed. I’ve received so much helpful feedback from my fellow cohorts that it’s given me some clarity as to how I would structure the podcast. The first episode will be about sharing my personal story – starting from when I was young and having to deal with social anxiety to the present day, living with and managing being bipolar. When I look back at my life, now being almost 43-years-old, I can say that I’ve experienced social anxiety, PTSD, depression, and bipolar. Crazy, right?
The second episode would be hearing Sam’s side of the story about how I ended up in a mental hospital. He would talk about what life is like in a supporting role and how we somehow manage to live a life we love. (On a side note, that’s how I’d define success. It’s not about money or power, it’s about living a happy and fulfilling life.)
This got me thinking that I’d like to write a memoir, sharing my difficult life experiences and what lessons I’ve learned along the way. My hope would be that it would give others a glimpse into the life of someone who has dealt with several mental illnesses yet how a person can turn those experiences into something positive. If I can live through my mother’s suicide and being locked up in a mental hospital for six weeks, what can’t I overcome? I’ve learned how to be resilient, how to be the best mom I can be, and that having a mental illness doesn’t have to stop you from pursuing your dreams.
So back to last night. Sam and I were sitting on the couch when we decided to tape our conversation. We just started talking about my first psychotic break and how scary it was both for me and him. I told him what I last remembered, and he filled in all the details. At one point, I started to cry (ok, I cry easily), because I had no idea how much he did for me. Not only did he drive up every day from Temecula to the UCLA psych hospital to visit me (a 1.5 to 2 hr drive, one way), but he also checked in with the doctors, constantly asking for updates. I had family and friends who wanted to visit, so he created a schedule and gave everyone advice on what they should or should not say. He also had to deal with my loving but sometimes crazy sister who couldn’t understand what I was going through. In the hospital, she said, “Why can’t you just snap out of it?” Oh, if only I could.
It has now been five years since that hospital stay and I’ve gone into mania about once or twice a year. Depending on my level of stress, I can easily slip into hypomania, which my therapist correctly describes as “seductive.” In hypomania, you feel on top of the world, you hardly need any sleep, you feel more creative and less inhibited. But it’s a slippery slope, if I don’t increase my medication I fall off the cliff and my brain goes into overdrive. I start seeing patterns everywhere, ones that don’t make any sense, and I’m easily overstimulated. Even the sound of my boys raising their voices makes me extremely anxious so it’s hard to be present and be their mom.
I’m more motivated than ever to start this podcast. Inspired by Tim Ferriss, I’ll create six episodes and then see if this is something I really want to pursue. In the meantime, I’ll start jotting notes down about my life experiences and maybe they’ll end up in a book. One last thought we had was starting a YouTube channel where Sam and I discuss things like parenting, love, gratefulness, self-improvement and entrepreneurship. That one may be hidden for a while. Stay tuned…and thanks for taking this journey with me.