Sunday, June 7, 2015

This Old Blog

It's been so long, I almost forgot how to log in to my original mommy blog. This space was where I first learned how to post, where I started my online writing practice. The early photos I took of my babies are all archived here, not in a traditional baby book. I remember how sad I was when I made the decision to stop posting regularly here.

Five years, four months of my life is documented here in my first blog. My blogging training wheels. When Vivian turned eight months old, I made a decision to tell my story. From the beginning I wanted to write openly, with my real name attached to my writing. But time and again I was advised to stay anonymous. Think of the children, they said. What if a mother of a child in their school finds your blog and won't let their kids play with yours because you're bipolar?

I knew I'd eventually do what I knew in my heart was right: write honestly and openly about living with bipolar disorder. I wanted to educate and inform people out there who didn't understand mental illness. To show them that those of us who have differences in our brain chemistry are regular people who deserve to be treated exactly the same way as any other person. When someone battles cancer, we don't shun them or discriminate against them. The more people can understand mental illness, the better off we'll be as a society. When one in four people is affected by mental health disorders, we're ALL affected because we all know more than four people in our lives.

But because of stigma, I started out as just a voice. I wrote out bits and pieces of my story, along the way meeting other bloggers who were testing the mental health blogging waters, too.

After a year and a half, I started writing openly on The more I wrote there, the less I wrote here. It became overwhelming to maintain them both. I also decided to start emailing my kids about the special and ordinary moments of their young lives. I opened email accounts for each of them and have been sending them little notes and pictures since I quit this blog. I can't wait to give them the logins when they're teens.

Then in 2013, This Is My Brave was conceived on Kickstarter and began to grow. My idea took flight with the help of Anne Marie Ames, my awesome co-Founder, and our vision was validated over and over again as stories began pouring in from our community. We had hit a nerve, and in selling out the theater, our cast made a tremendous impact on the future of how we as a society talk about mental illness.

2015 has been a year of exceptional growth for This Is My Brave and we are so proud of everyone who has been with us on this journey. We held five unique performances this year - Harrisburg, Boston, Iowa City, Washington DC and a presentation at the Mental Health America annual conference. This summer will be spent strategizing and implementing our next phase of expansion nationally.

I truly believe none of this would have been possible if I hadn't taken the leap into blogging back when I became pregnant with my first child. My bipolar disorder was in remission, but not for long. When my son was four weeks old, I experienced postpartum psychosis. With the support of my husband, family, and close friends, I was able to recover and over the next year focused on my health. When Owen turned 1, we had made the decision to try for another baby. I would again be reminded of the wretched grip of the mania and psychosis of bipolar disorder type 1 when at five weeks pregnant with our second child, I had to be hospitalized for the fourth time.

The last time I was hospitalized was April 2010. Since then I've made serious changes to my lifestyle including diet, exercise and sleep, which have all contributed to my long-term mental health stability. This Is My Brave has given me purpose. I've found my life's vocation and I couldn't be more grateful to everyone who has supported me in this endeavor. We have exciting adventures ahead. I hope you'll follow along and join us in our mission of ending the stigma surrounding mental illness through storytelling.

This Is My Brave
Periscope: @ThisIsMyBrave

Bipolar Mom Life
Periscope: @BipolarMomLife

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