So here I am with my last blog post for Healthy Minds Canada. My four months of blogging for them went by way too quickly, but alas, it is time for new people to step in and take over.
I had to sit and think for a while about a topic to write about for my final week and upon looking through my past blog posts it came to me. In one post, I wrote about some of the symptoms I experience while living with Bipolar Disorder. But I forgot one. Well, I probably forgot more than one, but only one popped into my head while thinking and reading – my loss of interest in doing things I used to enjoy/like/love.
Losing interest in hobbies and activities is one of the diagnostic criteria for Depression and Bipolar Disorder. Before I began to write this post, I sat and made a list of things, activities and hobbies I enjoy(ed) just to see if I could remember the last time I did any of them. It made me kind of sad to see them on paper and to remember just how much I liked them.
I actually have a daily visual reminder of some of these things that were (and to a point still are) enjoyable to me and I look at them often in hopes of sparking an interest to no avail. Some of the hobbies I no longer take part in are not just because I have lost interest in them but also because I find that I literally cannot do them any longer.
I have a shelf in my room that in which is covered in books. Some of them are books that I would just read for pleasure and some are text books and binders full of assignments from college. Writing and learning are/were two of my favourite things to do. I absolutely love learning about all kinds of things but trying to learn things now is a difficult task, as is reading, and the two go hand in hand. With my level of concentration being weak and at times nonexistent and with my memory dwindling more and more makes it almost an impossible task.
There are other interest and activities I no longer do because they take a level of energy I do not have. Some I no longer do as I find no pleasure in them anymore. Then there are the others that coincide with further symptoms such as withdrawing myself from situations, like socializing.
I found myself losing interest in almost everything; I didn’t want to do any of the things I had previously wanted to do and I didn’t know why. Everything there was to do seemed like too much work.
The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment ~ Andrew Solomon
I actually find it quite hard when I think about these aspects of Bipolar Disorder. It often makes me feel like I am no longer me. I am just some shell of a person that once existed and on a rare occasion I get to spend time with the ghost of the person I once was. This ghost appears and allows me to remember that I did used to enjoy things. I used to enjoy drawing, writing poetry and stories. I used to bake for my kids all the time. I used to do crafts and various needlework. I used to make various forms of art. I used to love going for walks and being outside. Nevertheless, this ghost of my past self never stays long. Sometimes I am lucky and she hangs around for a week but her visits are never planned. She appears randomly maybe once a year and stays for undetermined amount of time and then she is gone.
Upon writing this I realized something. I realized there are some interests that never completely went away. Listening to music, my interest in computers/video games, and my favourite pastime, writing! Thanks to Healthy Minds Canada I was able to not only remember how much I enjoy writing but I was able to take my love for writing and combine it with a newer interest of spreading awareness about mental health/mental illness and the stigma that surrounds them both.
I honestly was not sure I was going to be able to keep up with the writing aspect but I did. I am not saying it was not without struggle at times. At times I was not sure a couple of my blogs would even be published for people to read. Not because of their content, but because of my inability to concentrate, which led me to read them over so many times to proofread that in the end they made no sense to me. I submitted them anyhow as I did not want to disappoint and slack on my part of being chosen to be a blogger. After a few days I always went back to read them one more time and decided they weren’t as bad as I originally thought.
So with all that said, I am not sure what my next steps will be. I am hoping to maybe find another way to use my love of writing and passion for spreading awareness, but we will see. I am also going to try my hardest to do something I love at least once a week. Even if only for 15 minutes it will be a start because being a blogger showed me that I can still do it, I just have to find the strength to try.
I want to thank Healthy Minds Canada for this opportunity and I am a little sad it is ending and thank you to any and all of those of you that took the time to read my blogs. You may hear from me again, as I will not stop telling my story because my story is not over.
About Karen M. Thompson
Michelle is a 2014 graduate of the Child and Youth Care Program at Loyalist College. During her time in the program she got to take many courses on Mental Health/Mental Illnesses. While she was learning academically, she was also learning quite a lot about herself as well. It was during this time when her mental health struggles became noticeable to herself and those around her. She had struggled from her mid-teens to her late 30's never quite knowing what was the root cause. In August of 2015 she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 1. Michelle has now found a passion for telling her life story and struggles to educate students in hopes that by doing so they will have the knowledge and power to help put a stop to the stigma that affects so many with mental health issues.