My name is Cameron Jones and I have Bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness where a person experiences rapid mood swings from sometimes the highest of highs to the lowest (and I do mean lowest) of lows. There is currently no essential “cure” or known reason why it happens other than chemical imbalances. It takes a lot of strength and bravery to tell my story, to show up in my industry where I have to muster up the energy to encourage others even on days when all I want to do is lay dormant and wait for the next jarring swing to pass. Rarely do I experience the highs so I am grateful for my job in fitness! It’s Mental Illness Awareness week and I feel obligated to share my journey with the general public so everyone can be educated that this is not some made-up stuff that you hear about as taboo. Welcome to the reality that your leaders, teachers and people you run to for strength are probably giving you the only ounce of power they had that day. Below are my observations as this week begins.
The Flip and Switch
All things outwardly good to outsiders, but on the inside where my greatest strengths and weaknesses lie is a force that is unexplainable. One day I’m up, one day I’m down, and it doesn’t matter if I have prestige, popularity or a presence that may seem always jovial in some way; If you stick around long enough, it can/will change. Some days I want to quit everything and run as far as I can to whatever else is better than being an occupant within my headspace. One of my healthy choices is the gym but admittingly even I can fall into unhealthy patterns of coping just like others.
I wade in worry that my relationships–platonic or otherwise–will crumble because of my ailment and that most will not understand that this isn’t a “cheer up, buttercup” simple way of life that I now live. It’s a use-all-your-strength to not be down, emotionally exhausted, beat to death only to be tired all over again from putting your best foot forward to “fake it till you make it” ordeal.
Mental illness is not a light switch that can be turned on and turned off like that! It’s a series of battles that last throughout your life–a war that never ends but if you’re lucky, the short lulls give you some time to recuperate. So many people struggle but don’t know how to ask for help or have someone worthy to listen without being judged or misunderstood further pushing them deeper until they are left to themselves to drown.
I often ponder the thought of what it must be like to live a life where the chemicals inside my head are balanced and how the stressors of life affect a person versus a stacked deck of imbalances constantly running wild and unbridled, needing medicinal adjustments here and there. Does the perspective have that slight edge of beauty that I yearn to have each and every day? I guess I can only imagine.
Mental illness week is upon us and it is my obligation to not only continue to share my journey but also bring awareness to the reality that it indeed exists. Women AND men experience this. So, you macho men out there that feel as if you must man-up, your time will come where comfort will be the bed you yearn for because the rocky surface of your toughness will not sustain you.
Be kind to yourselves, be kind to others and just realize that there are some people going through it–especially those who have a mental illness.
If you feel like you’re in an abnormal emotional state where things seem shaky, that they are not getting better through the things you normally do to cope, I suggest getting into contact with a therapist or someone who can be a rock of support for you.
Sidenote: sometimes health insurance can be funny when it comes to making it affordable to receive these services, but that’s a whole other blog post for another time. In the meantime, if you have people in your circle, don’t be afraid to reach out; we all need to vent and have someone that will at least listen!
Love you guys! Be safe, be kind to yourself, rest, say no to things that’ll put you in positions where your mental health could be dangerously compromised, be aware of your triggers (will have a post on those in the future), and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
You are worth it!