There’s Glory in Sharing Your Story
Story #1 written by Susan Walz
Blog is myloudbipolarwhispers.com
My name is Susan Walz and I live in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I am blessed to be the mother of three amazing children and two additional children who married my children. My favorite thing to do is spend time with my children. I am a creative person and love to use my creativity in many different ways. Presently, my creative hobby is writing. I have a blog titled myloudbipolarwhispers.com where I share my story openly and honestly about living, surviving and thriving with Bipolar 1 Disorder to increase awareness, educate, reduce stigma, prevent suicide, inspire, give hope and let God’s love shine through me and touch you.
I taught special education for over ten years until the symptoms of my illness became too severe. Twenty five years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder as my primary mental illness. I have also been diagnosed with PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder and borderline personality disorder.
I finished writing my memoir and am in the process of proofreading and editing it. I currently work part-time in home health care, as it has always been my passion to help others. I am a mental illness advocate on a mission to increase awareness and educate about mental illness, reduce the stigma of mental illness, prevent suicides, help save lives and improve the quality of people’s lives who live with mental illness.
Twenty-five years ago I delivered my first baby via c-section. When the doctor pulled my baby out of my uterus, he pulled me out with her. I was expelled in the afterbirth of my delivery and was removed from myself. All my feelings and emotions were gone. I was detached from reality. I did not feel real and felt like I was not part of my own body. On the day my daughter was born I became undone and I was never the same again.
I was initially diagnosed with postpartum depression and was put on antidepressants. It was soon discovered that I had bipolar 1 disorder instead. After a few more years my symptoms became so severe I had to quit my special education teaching career. I lost everything —my career, home, husband, all my friends, family and my identity. Over a twenty year period I was hospitalized too many times to count, attempted suicide numerous times, engaged in self-injurious behaviors, lived in halfway houses, had hundreds of ECT treatments as medications were not effective for me, was homeless for over three months and then one day I found a way to live, survive and eventually thrive.
It was very difficult for me to accept my bipolar diagnosis. I fought it in every way I could. Because my denial lasted so long, I lost many years of my life and experienced many more dark days than I should have. After I finally accepted my bipolar diagnosis, I began my long and difficult journey of recovery.
The next important step in my recovery was when I learned to distract myself from constantly thinking about my mental illness. I learned to stop being consumed with negative thoughts about the present, past and future. Most importantly, I found God. God saved my life numerous times and He continues to give me strength and guidance and heals me to the point he wants me to be healed.
I began working on a part-time basis. Working was key for me. I was not able to teach special education again, but eventually I found work that was meaningful for me. I work in home health care helping others. Helping others is very therapeutic, because when I help other people, essentially I am helping myself.
At this point in my life I feel better than I have in twenty years. One thing that has helped me is working at my home health care job, because I love to help people in as many ways as I can. Also, I have my own blog as a mental illness advocate and I am in the process of finishing my memoir. Writing has been very therapeutic for me.
I have been very fortunate, because at this time in my life I am psychotropic medication free for the first time in over twenty years. I just want to note that this was done under medical supervision and was not done on my own. When I finally stopped taking Klonopin (Benzodiazepine) that was when my mental health improved the most. My mind is clearer now than it has been in over twenty years. The amazing thing is that for the first time in my life I do not have severe anxiety. Also, I have found more things recently that make me happy. I finally found my purpose in life and that is essential.
Thank you for reading. Please help reduce mental illness stigma. Let’s all be that one person that makes a positive impact and difference in the life of another person. If we each listen compassionately and help even one person, it will change the world. If we share our stories it will increase awareness, reduce shame and open up the dialogues about mental illness.
All of these things will help reduce suicides and save lives. Ultimately, our goal is to save lives and improve the quality of people’s lives who live with a mental illness.
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