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Mental Health & Wellness Associate
My bipolar disorder is constantly evolving and creating new ways to keep my mood on the low end of the spectrum. As I sit here sipping zinfandel while listening to Kendrick Lamar thinking about everything from reasons why my marriage ended over 8 years ago to I am never going to pass this exam next week. I cannot help but thinking how did I get here?
Last week while cleaning the bedroom that my son and I share I became overwhelmed with sneezing and a runny nose. I assumed that dust was the reason why I could not control the mucus running down my face and decided maybe I need to take a break and lay down. I was later awakened by my mother’s phone ringing to which I became frustrated thinking I had only been asleep for five minutes; it was three hours later and now I felt worse.
As someone who lives in the south, I am accustomed to pollen, I often think that a sneeze is a full-blown sinus infection. I began taking allergy medicine and continued with my daily life requirements. Waking up at 6:30am, showering, getting my son ready for school, heading out for classes, going to the library, studying, meetings, cooking dinner, and so forth and so on. However, one week later I still have the sniffles and now a low mood.
To my mental illnesses defense I have been overwhelmed with this semesters course load (yep, I am in school again) for about three weeks. So, this should not be too much of a surprise. Usually when I am overwhelmed, I can count on feeling low moods and being not motivated to really do anything. Despite this I can normally function through it and get things done with slight ease.
There have been many links to the human immune system and mental illness symptoms. I mean if you think about it, it makes sense. All these systems send communication to each other on a cellular level and if one of these systems is compromised, weakened, or blocked then both systems cannot perform effectively.
“There is dynamic communication between the brain and the immune system,” Jonathan P. Godbout, PhD, an associate professor in the department of neuroscience at Ohio State University, told Psychiatry Advisor. “These two systems talk to each other using many specialized pathways,” he says. One such pathway involves the release of inflammatory cytokines released during the immune system’s response to illness, infection, or other stressors. (Rodriquez)
To get to the root of the issue, the biggest change in every situation is unexpected change. This is something that I do not enjoy and honestly cannot handle. A large part of having generalized anxiety disorder is not being in control is the number one trigger for me.
So, the pandemic, my son’s behavior, 8 classes this semester, co-parenting, the past, the present and the future are all factors that are influencing my symptoms. Especially the constant down talking myself, increased alcohol, the feeling of wanting to cry, isolating myself and getting frustrated easily.
As a black woman I often do not feel as though I can talk about my mood because it will seem as though I want special treatment. I mean I had a conversation a month ago and was told “black women over exaggerate everything”. So imagine me trying to talk about what I am going through with so many external conflicts and then add “by the way I have a mood disorder”.
I always feel othered. Even in places where most of the people look like me. I often feel unheard.
It is interesting in a climate where we want people to be open and honest about their mental health struggles when it is anxiety or depression. Yet, when someone discusses bipolar disorder or dissociative identity disorder the stigma is still astounding.
Every single thing effects my mood. There are so many factors that exacerbate symptoms and behaviors. It takes a lot of work to truly manage an illness and when you have three illnesses that work against each other those skills that you learn and post that you see constantly are a distant memory.
All my efforts. All my planning. All my self-work. All my self-care. All my reading. All my education. All my #blackgirlmagic. All my being does not hold weight against the devastating and sometimes crushing experiences of my mood disorder.
Every stereotype. Every standard. Every shift. Every abrupt change. Every person. Everything effects my mood. Every single little minuscule minuet large, massive substantial thing impacts my mood.
4/14/2021 02:13:04 pm
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Your testimony is so valuable and very much inspiring. I shared this blog to some of my Bipolar groups and locally. I think it’s so important to highlight and share the experiences and truth of mental illness and being Black, and the extra miles you have to travel and work to attain your goals and stability or even just normalize mental illness in Black women and men. The ability to be able to treat it and share it and speak about it is so important for others to feel they’re safe to explore or reach out for treatment meds and acceptance among their relationship(s) and in professional settings as well. May not mean much coming from me, but I’m so truly proud of you! This is not an easy road to travel. Life long attention to detail or a mood may arise. Or simply making life harder. Then ass in the stigma and stereotypes and racism. Much love to you friend! You are a warrior!
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