Thank You, Carrie.

Thank You, Carrie.

Let me preface this by saying that many celebrities have been excellent voices for mental health reform and awareness. However, as I searched for answers about life with my diagnosis, only one gave me real hope:

Carrie Fisher.

Princess Leia.

Bad ass space queen.

I found her when I googled “celebrities who have bipolar disorder.” I was desperate to find someone who was like me. Many celebrities had depression, but it was more than that. I could relate, but only for  a little while. There was no one like me: someone who had awful highs, pitiful lows, and had to make sense of the things in between. But Carrie was like me. Carrie was living proof that you could have bipolar disorder and still live a fulfilling life, finding humor in it along the way.

She was everything I wanted to be: bold, sassy, creative, and open. She didn’t shy away from the topic of her mental illness as I often did (and still do). She was open about what she felt. She talked about what her illness had driven her to do and how she was better because of it.

Carrie Fisher was truly a light in the darkness for me. She was respected, strong, hilarious, and sick; she was sick and still built an amazing life. Most of all, she never lost sight of herself in a world that didn’t quite make sense to her, one that still doesn’t quite make sense to me. When she died, I wasn’t just upset because the world lost a great woman: I was upset because my mentor was gone. Whenever I thought I couldn’t do it, I thought about Carrie. If Princess Leia can press on, so can I. I mean, she lost a planet after all.

Thank you, Carrie Fisher, for reminding me that there is a life to be led beyond diagnosis, a life that is not easy, just different. And that different life can be just as rewarding. If I had the opportunity to meet her when she was alive, I would just want to sit and bitch with her about medication and therapy (while I played with her dog). And I’m pretty sure she would let me. After all, her urn is a Prozac pill.

She’s my hero.

At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.

Carrie Fisher

fa5786b9fda52e045c4e38e580d4f891.jpg

296.89 Project #2: What About Laura?

296.89 Project #2: What About Laura?

Loneliness. 

One of the most dangerous emotions I feel, if not the most dangerous. Being an extrovert, I need human interaction or I suffer.

I’m focusing on self portraits and taking one shot photos of what I look like in a swing: no posing, no retakes. Just my face. You never realize how much a facial expression can tell you.

Chapped lips: I forget to drink water most of the time. 

Unkempt appearance: I think I’ve stopped caring at all. 

Furrowed brow and wider eyes: Deep, aching sadness. 

Droopy eyes and dark circles: I’ve kind of hit a wall. 

img_1423img_1393

Music recommendation: In Collusion with The Waves by Seas of Years

Film recommendation: “What About Bob?” starring my hero Bill Murray

296.89 Project #1: “Lights Out”

img_1377

I wanted to start a small photo series about the consequences of bipolar disorder beyond what the general public eye can see.

I wanted to start with a self portrait.

See, I’m good at hiding. Not to say I’m lying to you all about who I am, but I am trying to project the person I used to be before I really got sick.

Once I come home and have shaken off the burdens of school, studying, and taking care of other people during clinicals, you can really see me. I don’t smile. I retreat into a shell. I become withdrawn and have no emotions whatsoever, and if I do I’m usually weepy. There are bags under my eyes from not being able to sleep.

This is a tired person. Lights out, but it’s the same cycle the next day.

Left Behind: How Our Perception of Mental Health Hurts Women

Left Behind: How Our Perception of Mental Health Hurts Women

“What are you reading?” A classmate asked me one day in the nursing building. Half forgetting what I was actually reading, I turned the old hard cover over.

“A Farewell to Arms,” I replied. “Ernest Hemingway. One of my favorite authors.”

“Oh, he wrote that one about the old man and the sea right? Cool!” She replied enthusiastically.

I could tell she didn’t actually think it was cool at all. Then, an idea popped into my mind.

“Do you know how Ernest Hemingway died?” I asked carefully. She shook her head “no”.

“Old age?”

I reopened the page where I had left off and shook my head.

“He killed himself.”

Continue reading “Left Behind: How Our Perception of Mental Health Hurts Women”