When I first accepted my diagnosis of bipolar disorder I wasn’t even close to being in a happy place. I had been in and out of the psychiatric hospital where I was overmedicated. I jumped off of all of my medications, which caused me to have seizures. I refused to go back on medication for some time, which didn’t help stall the inevitable swing back up into mania, during which time I left my children’s father, again. My life was unraveling very quickly and I was heading back into a dark depression when I happened to stumble on a Facebook Page that helped make me smile again. Pepper Vintage is filled with everything beautiful, uplifting, inspiring, and pink. It is one of the loveliest Pages on all of Facebook. It was where I started my day, with my coffee in hand, reading inspiring quotes, looking at gorgeous pictures, and it helped me so much. I was so enchanted with this page, and so grateful to Pepper that I sent her a message to her page to tell her how much it helped me. She replied and we had a few lovely conversations that turned into more lovely conversations. Pepper Vintage made me smile again, but Christine Saenz changed my life.
Christine also has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and during one of her rough times, she called out to her followers to see if anyone would be interested in filling in as an admin on her page for a little while. I don’t know why I said yes, I had no clue how to run a Facebook Page, but I did. That simple yes changed everything for me. It got me doing something that mattered again, and that got me to realize that I needed to get myself well, go back on my meds, get back to therapy, but this time to do it right. And, it started my entire mental health advocacy ball rolling. That was all because of Christine, and am forever grateful to her. There are no words to express how much she has done to help me.
Christine is a respected member of the group that is responsible for getting World Bipolar Day acknowledged and continuing annually. She helps so many navigate their way through this illness, that it’s staggering. She is a true advocate, and a gem. Christine Saenz has become one of the most treasured friends that I have. I love her dearly. She was there for me when I never even knew that I needed her and has been there for me ever since. Christine is beautiful inside and out. She radiates courage and compassion. She is strong and brave, and fierce. She is incredible, inspiring, and amazing, and she is my friend. I love you, Doll!
Working While Battling Bipolar, The Struggle Is Real!
By Christine Saenz
How the heck am I able to pull off working and living with bipolar? Why am I not on disability and how do you look so normal? I get these questions quite a bit.
How am I able to pull off working? Well I’d like to think it’s because I have awesome academy award winning acting chops but sadly I don’t. Instead it’s my sheer will to stand up against this illness. I will never be cured from bipolar; my meds help me maintain some level of stability. For the most part it’s my constant fighting back that allows me to live the life that I have. To be quite honest it’s exhausting; constantly fighting back depression, fighting back manic episodes, and so much self-awareness, that in itself can drive one a little nuts.
Bipolar is always with me, its an unwanted visitor that will never leave my side. However I’ve learned to deal with the hand that I’ve been dealt. Every morning I decide when I wake up how my day will turn out. Some days when my feet hit the ground I know bipolar is going to whip my ass and those days I let it win a little bit. Those are the days I blame allergies for my watery eyes or my constant blowing of my nose. Inside is a turmoil that is so deep and dark that I can’t begin to explain the pain I feel.
While all this is going on I am greeting people, being a support system to my employees, and a teammate to my boss. I have to work harder than most just to make it look like I am happy and normal. I have to push away the sadness that can over take me. I’ve always prided myself in working and being able to maintain a career. I am also stubborn and I’ll be damned if I let this disorder win.
When people find out I have bipolar they are first taken aback because I look normal. I find that so annoying, because exactly how should a bipolar person look? Well I can imagine some have a preconceived notion what a mentally ill person would look like. The person in sweats that hasn’t taken a shower for days, maybe some one who hasn’t seen the sun in awhile, those are the images that might come to mind when people think of mental illness. All those images we see on TV have made mental illness look awful. I do have those days where I’ve not moved from my bed for 24 hours. Or the minute I get home from work I change into pj’s and can’t wait to sleep my day away.
I am fortunate to be able to cope and deal with bipolar and still work. Don’t get me wrong the struggle is real. I am suicidal at times. I can show up at work exhausted and drained from fighting to make it through the night. Many times I’ve showed up to work with only a few hours of sleep because I’ve had a depressive episode so bad that I’ve cried all night long. I may make it look easy but the turmoil that goes on with in me is no joke. I wake up and keep pushing on no matter what I go through. I never let myself lose sight of the big picture. I still need to provide for my children, I still need to take care of myself. I have the world on my shoulders and I cannot let bipolar win. So far I’ve done a good job coping and fighting back.
I believe it is all about attitude and my attitude so far is a force to be reckoned with. Bipolar hasn’t found a way to completely take over. I wish I could say it gets easier but there are days where I simply feel beat up by all this. There are times where I want to give up, because the struggle to stay here is so exhausting, then I remember I have a purpose. I have so much to live for and so much to fight for. Every one of us that have a mental illness has a purpose and we are all so lucky to be here another day to tell our story. Living with a mental illness is challenging but it’s so worth the fight. Life is beautiful and we cannot let our mental illness steal that away from us. Keep fighting the good fight, you are not alone I am not alone. We are all in this together.
Christine is a lover of chocolate, a mother of 5, a part time actress ( Mon-Fri 8am-5pm aka office hours ) She is a survivor of her illness , Bipolar II.
Diagnosed in 2010 with Bipolar, her road to recovery has not been an easy one. To the world she seems to have it all together but if anyone could see into her mind, they would know just how much chaos and a mess she is. The struggle is real to maintain and live a stable and productive life. Being deemed stable is truly a triumph. Although she doesn’t always get it right and still makes mistakes, Christine continues to grow and learn how to cope with her illness. During the times when she isn’t working or being a mom, she finds time to help others with this illness. Her page Pepper Vintage is place for people to have a safe place to talk about mental illness.