• Amber Weigand-Buckley

Coping with the B-word

I'm not gonna lie when I received my diagnosis of Bipolar type one with "psychotic episodes" I felt that I had been dealt the biggest "cone of shame" on the planet.

In fact, I couldn't stand the idea that I was literally "falling apart" in front of an audience that I loved, desired respect from, had the responsibility to encourage, and be a role model pointing to the goodness of God.

My heart hadn't changed. God wasn't to blame. I was in pain, extremely ill, under attack and in denial, wallowing in the toxic of my mind, and ignoring what was happening. Everything was pushing through like a pile of sick to the surface. One thing was for sure; I was breaking down, and this reality was not only stopping me in my tracks, it knocked me down for the count.

3-2-1 Ding...Ding....in the psychiatric ward of the hospital and every day since then, the shame cloud liked to find its hover right in front of my face. In fact, I never thought anyone would be able to see old Amber in the same way—without anything of shame clouding my face.

But, it was in this frailty that God turned the light on to the reality of His presence in my pit. I also realized that even with a pit diagnosis, I didn't have to live there. One thing I've realized I had to do was give up my "cone of shame." To do this, I had to become "barefaced" about my condition. But moreover, I had to use my voice to be the person I was divinely created to be—and dissolve the stigma in the b-word.

I acknowledge that I can't even relate to everyone with bipolar, but I know that many of you deal with an invisible illness. For me to say, "I am Bipolar" would be the equivalent of someone else saying, "I am Cancer." Bipolar does not equal broken. Anxiety does not equal disorder. It just makes those of us who deal with it approach living from a different perspective...and with a different routine to keep health in check.

I may walk this journey, dealing with the stigma, stereotypes and still all those uncomfortable pauses every time I release something of vulnerability in conversations or cyberspace, but I know there is beauty even in the daily challenge of this headspace. I also know I may travel this road, but I thank God every day I never have to journey on my own.

You can find more of my ‪#‎sisterhoodoftheshortpencil‬ journey journals here on my site. I hope it inspires you and gives you insight on the mind and heart that is so much more than an illness and I hope those who deal with struggles with mental health will know they have something beautifully themselves to give the world. ‪#‎loosetheshame‬ ‪#‎killthestigma‬ ‪#‎mentalhealthawareness‬

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