Kacey’s story.

I am Kacey.

I am also on my way to empowerment.

The images of me on Instagram, if that’s where you’ve been directed from, were taken on the same day, just a few hours apart. They show me happy and smiley vs upset and torn. The first one I took because I thought, “why not?”. I was feeling confident and happy so why the hell not. That’s the Kacey everyone sees. Happy, always smiling, confident and fun. It’s the Kacey I portray to the world.

The second image was taken a few hours later. A completely unexpected 360 in my mood but that’s my bipolar life. Tears, panic attacks, self doubt and a feeling of worthlessness. Why take the picture you ask? I wanted to show myself side by side visually who I am.

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar I remember feeling so ashamed of it. What was I? Who was I? And why was I acting so completely irrational? I thought that getting help was admitting defeat. That by getting help, I as failing myself, my friends and my family.

After a few months of struggling on myself, I decided to seek help. THIS was one of the most empowering moments of my life to date. Yes I cried a lot when trying to explain myself to the Doctor and Therapist but I realised just how big a deal this was. I was taking a massive step forward towards making me, me again. That, in fact, I wasn’t failing anyone, I was actually showing everyone how strong I was and made friends and family proud without even realising.

Both of the photos I took are me and I am happy about that. Yes, I have good days and bad days but I wouldn’t be who I am without them. I see the photos side by side and I don’t see an illness, I see a beautiful, strong, capable, brave and confident me and I love that.

At one point in my recovery, I couldn’t have written this or shared this post because I was ashamed of it. I felt like I had no ‘reason’ to have it. You see, I’m lucky. I have a wonderful, caring family, amazing friends, a good job etc. What I didn’t understand at that time was that anyone can have a mental health illness. But for me, the stigma surrounding it was terrifying. A lot of my anxiety came from what people would think if they found out. I now realise that some people just aren’t educated enough on the matter.

Now I know that if I tell people or if they find out, I am comfortable to explain my illness. If, after that, they decide I’m still a fruitcake then so be it.

It’s not an easy thing to deal with. Moods change quickly and negative thoughts appear so fast and sometimes, before I know it, my bipolar has got the better of me and I’m in the midst of a full blown meltdown served with a side of anxiety, worthlessness and a panic attack too.

Here is the perfect example: last week, I passed my driving test.

I picked up my first car after work and successfully drove it home. Fantastic! Such a happy occasion. I parked up and waited in the house for my boyfriend to return home. But he arrives home to me on the couch. Tears were streaming down my face, I couldn’t breathe and I was having what I would describe as a panic attack.

In an instant, happy new car day has taken a turn for the worse.

Every negative and irrational thought was getting the better of me.

“Have I wasted this money?”, “Could I have went for something better?”, “Will I be a good driver?”, “What if I stall the car?”, “What if I have a bump?”, “Have I failed Ryan?” etc…

At this point I believe I have ruined Ryan’s life and wonder if I will ever be a functioning adult.

Fast forward a few hours and I am back to a calmer and more rational me. And I can laugh at what I was panicking over.

I’m not 100% where I’m going with this if I’m honest, it’s been a bit of a ramble but I think what I’m trying to say is that Bipolar can affect so many. Not just the person who has it but the people around them too. It’s good to have a support system. I’m not sure I could do it without the people around me. Or people like yourself.

It’s amazing, through The Empowered Woman Project, to see such inspirational people, to hear other stories about real women and real situations.

Also, a notepad and a pen! What a basic but fantastic way to get things off your chest!

Anyway, thank you for the opportunity to share.

Kacey

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