I know I missed a few Saturdays. It’s that this post has been weighing heavily on my mind beyond my usual busyness. Some of you may know what I’m about to share except more of you probably don’t. But I feel it’s important to publicly state what I need to state for those not in the know…
I found out that I have Bipolar Disorder the hard way: A psychotic break caused by the wrong medication. This means that I saw and heard shit that wasn’t there. My brain was also thinking so many thoughts that I couldn’t even string the words together to make coherent thoughts. Just a regular day – right? Haha! Seriously, those thoughts honestly felt more “real” than my keyboard that I’m using right now.
And I had some early recovery days where I could do next nothing. Still… I got out of bed, make coffee and take my meds. Why? These things are non-negotiable. I had one day where I allowed myself to go back to bed. It freaked me out so much that I immediately got out and went for a walk. I also kept taking my meds even when they caused me to gain 30 pounds in the first month, shake, threw me in a massive depression and made my hair fall out in clumps.
As my hair began to look like a really bad mullet, I chopped it mostly off. I know some of you would say that there is no such thing as a “good” mullet except I’ve seen a few over the years. Trust my hair wasn’t one of them despite that it was more than half way down my back. If you think this was hell, try doing that with tons of medications cocktails for years until doctors find the “right combination.” I was lucky that it was only one medication mix that did this to me because my next mix was fine.
I digress. Here’s the thing though… I had well intentioned people telling me it was okay to sit on my ass and do next to nothing. Their rationale was stigma because it’s this big and bad thing tearing down people with Bipolar and other kinds of mental illness. Honest. I got those speeches about it and a bunch of coddling. And had I listened to that – I would currently be institutionalized or homeless right now.
But I refused to believe that was the best my life could be. So, I rebuilt my life starting with learning to trust my mind again. My next step was to go from attending support groups to co-facilitating them. I moved onto helping train law enforcement and other first responders on how to help people with mental illness and developmental disabilities during a crisis. Heck. It’s called CIT or Crisis Intervention Team. I even sat on the board. We trained them using what’s called the “Memphis Model.” It came about in Memphis during 1988 after a questionable shooting of a man with man with mental illness. This model has since been exported throughout the United States and other countries.
As I could do writing regardless of what happened with my illness, I set up my own writing business. My writing ranged from articles with bylines on local and state levels, speaking points, wording for legislation, fact sheets, client stories, etc… I even had an article picked up by CNN Radio when that actually meant something.
Plus, I decided it was time to take my screenwriting seriously. I enrolled in the National University Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Screenwriting program. This is online except I knew moving to Los Angeles was the only way to break into the Hollywood Studio System at the time. So, I packed up my car and drove from Montana to Los Angeles. I had to choose between my TV and printer. As a writer, my printer won. Would you have chosen differently?
I met my husband soon after moving here. We started successful businesses to support us being indie filmmakers and parents. (This parent part is still in the making.) I participated doing these things while finishing up my MFA, producing indie films, taking writing classes from the amazing Corey Mandell, having a big church wedding, a European honeymoon, and working in the board and cares to take care of adults with special needs. I even breathe sometimes. 😉
The first movie I made was a short that got into the Burbank Film Festival. I produced it. We’re now in post-production for an indie feature that I’m producing. If you’ve ever produced a feature, it’s a marathon. Indie features are at least two back to back. I started on this while finishing up my thesis for my MFA. Here’s the teaser trailer in case you haven’t seen it: MY APOCALYPTIC THANKSGIVING
I’m also working on more movies – shorts and features. My other big things right now are training to do more jobs while I transition out from taking care of adults with special needs. I’ll write more about all of these things in other posts.
Why come out about this now? Part of it is that the sense of humor around mental illness died with Carrie Fisher. Its heart died with Patty Duke. Yes. It’s been a while since both women passed. However, I admit that I’ve struggled about coming out about my bipolar. One of my biggest reasons were that I was afraid it would impact my ability to get a job given the stigma.
Yes. I was a coward except it never sat well with me. It’s that I knew things would continue to be hard for people if individuals like me didn’t speak up. I also wanted for everyone to see alternatives to the person with bipolar going in and out of the hospital 40 times in one year. Bipolar is a part of your life rather than all of your life. It’s also not a catch all excuse no matter how many well-intentioned people try to tell you that it can be.
As for speaking out today, I want people to know they’re not alone if suffering with Bipolar Disorder. It’s also important to know that Bipolar can kick your ass if you don’t manage it. More importantly – you can kick its ass if you do manage it.
I plan on about this more in coming posts as well as an essay book. Don’t worry – I’m still going to be writing about writing and filmmaking. I just decided that I’m done hiding out.
You’re welcome to reach out to me here. I believe you can post comments. If you don’t want to publicly post, you can send me an email to hollysorianoblog at gmail.com