There is something magical that happens when you see yourself in someone else’s story of triumph. There is a familiarity there. A sense of comfort, peace even, when you realize: I am not alone.
Long before I understood that my fluctuating moods were the result of a life-long illness, I turned to the Internet for answers.
I needed to understand why I wasn’t a happy mother. Why was I so angry all the time? Why didn’t I fit the picture I had in my head of what a good mother is? What was I supposed to do with the accumulating guilt, shame and sadness encircling and suffocating me? What the hell was wrong with me?
I don’t know what it is about anger, but as far as emotions go it gets a bad rap. A good parent does not raise her voice. A good parent counts to ten or gives himself a time out. A good parent does not yell at her two year old and then collapse on the bed in a fit of hysterical tears. And this is why it was so much easier to find answers to my questions in a veiled environment. No one would know me. And I wouldn’t know them.
The honest and frank discussions that took place in the chat rooms and discussion boards online made me believe in myself again. Suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore. There were other parents out there living my very truth and they were persevering. I was hopeful that I would find a way out too.
Back then I couldn’t know that years later I would join the chorus of ‘real’ voices online and tell my story for anyone to read. But it has been such a rewarding experience to do so. And I am continually finding solace in the words of others in this collaborative space.
In fact, that’s why I am writing this post. I want to introduce you to Jennifer Killi Marshall. More so than any other blog or story I have ever read about Bipolar Disorder, Post Partum Depression and Psychosis, and motherhood, Jennifer’s story touches me on a deep, visceral level. Her story is my story in too many ways to count. I always find something helpful when I read her posts – I enjoy them immensely.
Jennifer has just published an inspiring eBook manifesto, Find Your Brave, in which she says about Bipolar Disorder, “It’s yours to manage, to curse, to medicate, and in time, it’s yours to appreciate.” She encourages all of us to stand together to overcome the stigma of mental illness and seek a brighter future for those of us living this reality. I hope you enjoy the manifesto as much as I did.
And this coming spring Jennifer is producing a show called This is My Brave just outside of Washington, DC on Sunday, May 18 at 4pm in the Artisphere’s Spectrum Theatre. This is My Brave will showcase people living with mental illness who have something positive to say about their experiences. So if you have an inclination to join the party, consider auditioning in February 2014.
Just wanted to give a nod to this incredible woman. Thanks for being an inspiration. Keep crusading Jenn!