I know what I’m doing!
But I was completely and utterly out of control.
I always thought I had my shit together, that every move, risk, and decision I made was the best choice to achieving a successful career. It wasn’t until my devastating breakdown, of 2018, that I realized my “Just trust me! I know what I’m doing!” was actually a complete mental implosion, exacerbated by my untreated Bipolar II disorder.
This realization didn’t stop me from my Tasmanian meltdown, where I totally uprooted my art career by destroying works, relationships and worst of all, trust. Everything that I had worked so hard to build completely collapsed under my feet in a matter of days. It was catastrophic. I was completely entrenched in a psychosis I couldn’t seem to get out of and had no plausible explanation for.
The next two years, I fell in and out of this state. Building. Destroying. Building. Destroying. This was my destructive cycle, but I always thought I could get it under control. My mantra became, “I’m not gonna be this way anymore. I’m better, so don’t worry about me. Just trust me.” And consistently it was brought to my attention that I was NOT in control. So, in September 2020 (after another meltdown) I had had enough and found help for my erratic behavior with DBT therapy. This has absolutely changed my life.
Why am I sharing such personal information?
Mental illness is a difficult subject to talk about, always has been and probably always will be. It carries with it a certain amount of shame, making it terribly uncomfortable to disclose, especially on a professional level. Ironically, I thought it would be mental health disclosure that ultimately destroyed my art career.
It took me months, of diligently working the DBT program, before I started to realize that nothing which is destroyed can’t be built again. It just takes time, consistency, and patience. I understand that in my years of self-destruction I have damaged a lot of trust (both personally and professionally) and It’s not without a certain amount of comprehension that this trust may be impossible to mend. Even though I’m not hoping for that outcome, I’m okay with the possibility.
My BPII is never going away. It’s as much a part of me as any vital organ. The difference now is that I am better equipped to handle my hypomanic episodes when they start to surface. I am more in control then I have ever been and I am slowly rebuilding the career I thought was annihilated.
One step at a time is the key to DBT and one step at a time is how I will fight for my path again.
- If you are interested in the subject of professional disclosure of your mental illness, I highly recommend the book, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. It opened my eyes to some practical and scientific information regarding living and working with a mental illness, particularly manic depression (aka Bipolar Disorder.)