We all recover from something 


When you struggle with something (physical or mental illness), a relationship break-up, death of a family member or loved one, loss of job, and any number of other life’s challenges, they are often all consuming.  They take away from every other aspect in life.

As I have learned from my many struggles, there came a point in time when I just simply got tired of the struggle.  I wanted to focus my energy on the bouncing back part.   I wanted to lift my head up and shout, “I won’t be a victim any longer!”

But…all that is easier said than done.  For every book or article I have read, there is nothing that replaces the “doing” part.  There is a shift in the mind that has to take place, almost like manually shifting the gears in a car.  It takes a conscious effort.  A fierce determination to overcome the challenges and not stay in a self-pity mode, even when it may be justifiable.

I believe everyone is recovering from something.  And no matter what are circumstances may be, we all have things we struggle with and need to overcome.  Every battle is important if it’s your battle to fight.

There are several things I have found necessary in overcoming my many challenges.  I want to share those things with you in a series of blogs.

The most important aspect of my recovery journey has been the willingness to pick my head up and look around.  What the heck does that mean?  Searching for perspective.  Not so I could compare my journey to others, more so because I wanted to allow myself to be inspired.

Inspiration is a heart matter.  Have you ever noticed that when you’re hurt the emotions either keep spilling out or you turn them all off?  I always have a tendency to turn them off.  To numb myself of pain.  But allowing myself to seek inspiration opened my heart to feelings.  And those feelings, those wounds-could now be healed because I allowed myself to take off the bandage and look at it.

It turns out that seeking perspective takes a great deal of courage.  When all I wanted to do was focus on all the ways I was cheated by bipolar disorder, I had forgotten all the ways my talents and gifts had given me a world of opportunity.  I spent way to much time focusing on what I had lost and not enough time on what I had gained.  It all was a matter of perspective.

So, if your challenges seem too great to bear, your losses are mounding up, don’t be afraid to pick up your head, look around and find one thing that inspires you.  And then, watch what happens when you focus on it.  

But it’s not going to be a one time deal.  At least it wasn’t for me.  I would lift my head up, be inspired and then retreat back to the safety of my misery.  Because my misery had become comfortable.  Being inspired was outside of my comfort zone.  My heart didn’t want to participate any longer.

This is when determination comes into play.  Of course I wanted a quick fix for healing my mind, body and spirit.  But that didn’t exists.  Little wins added up to big victories and soon I was well on my way to gaining perspective and living an inspired life.

Whatever your challenge.  Keep fighting.  Don’t give up.  Pick your head up and find perspective.  Inspiration is within your grasp.  Perspective starts by lifting your head up.

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Thoughts

I was like a kid at Christmas time when I finally got to release my book.  It was beyond exciting.  We (my editor and team) had been working hard for weeks.  Finally, the project was complete.  And now I get to hear the feedback.

True to form, I’m contemplating my next book project.  I think about what it takes to get past extreme disappointment.  I ponder on how someone without mental illness goes through life, and then I quickly realize I have no perspective on that–and if not mental illness than something else.  Right?

I wanted to take a thirty day blog challenge, where I actually wrote for 30 days straight.  The biggest problem is not the writing, it’s coming up with innovative topics that readers might find interesting.  And to be honest, not everyone wants to read about mental illness.  But that’s my expertise.

I found writing the book, “Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor,” one of the great challenges in my life.  Most of which had to with healing past challenges.  Deciding within myself what I wanted to reveal and what I would hold sacred.  But I like sharing and so therefore I didn’t hold much back.  I hope my readers appreciate it and can see I truly care about people.

I may be going to Texas for a talk.  I had hoped to become a National Speaker, so this fits nicely in my realm of dreams.

If you have read the book, please leave a review on Amazon.  It will help others find the book.  It might help someone else to overcome their challenges.

Have a great week everyone!  Until tomorrow!

 

 

Editorial Review

Dear Readers,

I wanted to take a moment and share with you my first editorial review for my book, “Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor:  An Olympian’s Journey with Mental Illness.”

Betsy Bethel, Life Editor from the Wheeling Newsregister and Intelligencer says, “Amy Gamble is a champion for mental health, advocating for awareness, improved care and the removal of stigma. In her book, she painstakingly describes the details of her own battle with bipolar disorder that led her from the U.S. Olympic team to a prosperous career for a top Fortune 500 company to a small jail cell in Montana and — eventually — to recovery. Amy’s firsthand experiences with the obstacles of our own health care and justice systems are chilling. And just when you think her nightmare has to be over, it starts all over again. You come to understand that mental illness truly levels the field: No amount of money, prestige or physical strength can protect you from it. But her survival instinct, her faith in God, and the work ethic she developed growing up on a West Virginia farm and honed as an Olympic athlete kept her trudging onward through her darkest days. The book is in part a cautionary tale — a “what not to do” — for the health care industry, as well as for families of those who are mentally ill and sick individuals themselves. Above all, it is a story of Amy’s redemption, a reclaiming of the life she thought she lost and the emerging of a true champion who dares to dream again. Mental illness won far too many battles in Amy’s life, but through her own education, proper care and sheer determination, she won the war. By sharing her story, she has ensured that her struggles were not in vain and many people will benefit from her victory.”

Click Here to Order

 

 

 

I AM Depression…

I’m the fog clouding the pathway of your life journey. Sometimes I come even when the sun shines. I’m eerie and heavy. I make it hard for you to see. I cause deep emotional pain. But I’m invisible to others. Only you know I’m here.

My presence is haunting. I get inside your mind and shout ugly things. I scream, “You’re not worth anything. You’re a failure! You’re lazy.” Then, I sliver up to you when you least expect it and tell you the world would be better off without you. I tell you I’ll make the voices stop, if you’ll just make a deal with me.

Then, you cry. I like it when you cry. I like to see what effect I’m having on you. When you wipe your tears I’m still here. You can’t cry me away. I don’t like other people around you, because they tell you to fight me. I convince you—you’re better off alone.

Alone. I’m the only one who controls you. I love polluting your thoughts. It gives me pleasure to watch you fall deeper into my grasp. My ultimate goal is to fill you up with nothingness. You’ll only be a shell of yourself. People will leave you alone. You won’t be fun anymore. But I will be with you. I won’t let go. Please don’t try to fight me.

You start to whisper a prayer. I hate prayers. Prayers are hopeful. Prayers destroy my power.

You take yourself to the doctor and ask for help. I hate the doctor. The doctor will help you.

You get a pill box and start taking medication. I hate medication. It causes my power to fade.

You make yourself fight me, but I’m a tough opponent. I’m not going away easily.

You start reaching out and talking to others. They know my secrets.

You win the battle. But there will be more. I’m always lurking. Waiting to reappear.

I AM depression.

 

Why are we afraid to talk psychosis?

Imagine you have been in a long deep sleep, filled with far fetched dreams-maybe even nightmares.  Did you ever wake up and say, “Wow!  That dream was so real.”  And maybe it takes a little while to regain your sense of consciousness.  To decipher between what was a dream and what was not.

Now imagine, you’re awake and your mind begins to have an altered reality.  You’re thinking and believing things that aren’t really true.  Maybe you believe the world is coming to an end or everyone is trying to kill you.  Paranoid about everyone and everything.  The mind you relied on to take you to a high level of success is now playing mean and cruel tricks on you.  But it’s all too real.  You can’t tell you’re brain is malfunctioning.

People are starting to look at you strangely.  You’re still perceptive and know they’re looking at you, questioning your sanity.  But that only adds to your paranoia.  The filters you have are gone.  Everyone is surely out to get you.

Then, to make matters worse, you hear a voice in your head.  A voice that’s not an inner voice of wisdom, but an extra voice intended to confuse you.  But only you know it’s there and no one else knows you are hearing it.  It’s as real to you as you are breathing.

Now add a sprinkle of mania to those thoughts.  Not only are the thoughts not based in reality, they’re coming faster and faster.  Only you can interpret what is going on in your own mind and now it’s off kilter.  The reality mirrors have broken.  There is no waking up from a bad dream.  It’s now a real live nightmare and those who love you are freaking out.  They can see you, but you can’t see yourself.

The real problem begins when you start acting on what you believe.  The thoughts start turning into actions.  The actions are bizarre and out of character.  Loved ones start to get scared.

It’s a medical condition to have a psychotic episode.  Yet our culture treats it like a scene in a bad horror movie.  Did you ever notice the bad guys are usually the person with mental illness who escapes from a mental institution?  The person with a mental illness is often portrayed as the deranged killer.  And here it comes…the words are finally uttered…he’s a psycho.  Psycho.  The really bad personalized word for a person having a psychotic episode.

For the most part, people who have not had any experience with a loved one who has a severe mental illness, like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or PTSD, will not have any understanding of psychosis, and even then, many loved ones really don’t understand either. The media does well to play over and over when a person with mental illness commits a crime, but they do very little to explain the most severe mental illnesses.  The most severe symptoms.

But yet, we are all still so afraid to have a real live conversation about psychosis.  Those of us who have experienced psychosis are scared to step-up and explain what happened during an episode.  We don’t want to be labeled as crazy, whacko, looney, psycho or nuts.  All disparaging words that do little to explain the malfunction of the brain.  That’s right.  The brain is responsible for how we think, feel and behave.  It’s the control center for our bodies.  But we treat it with so little respect.  And when it makes a misstep we label it with nasty words.

I contend we don’t talk about psychosis because we are afraid.  And that fear is perpetuated by our silence.  This is why we need more people to speak up about what it’s like to experience a psychotic episode.  Survivors testimonies are the key to better understanding, improved treatment and a cultural shift.

We fear what we don’t understand.  I write to help people understand.  I write to stop the silence.  I write because I care.

Living well with bipolar disorder

Over three years ago when I first started blogging, I never shared my blog post on Facebook, I had not given a talk on mental illness and I was a ways from living well.  I was still angry I had been dealt the Bipolar card and I was struggling to accept myself.

I wanted desperately to feel apart of a community.  It meant something to me to be involved in helping other people.  I had a vision for what I wanted my life to look like, but getting there was a ways off.

Now, a month away from launching my book “Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor,” I can honestly say my vision has become a reality.  I feel free from all the baggage from the past.  I have learned to accept myself and all the things I am proud of and all the things I am not.  

I love helping other people learn about mental illness and I enjoy the mental health first aid classes I teach.  This week I’m teaching a group of principals.  I’m excited to continue shedding light on mental illness.

But what has changed for me in the past few months is that I now have a drive to also have some fun.  I realized more aspects of myself were coming to life.  I’ve been spending more time outdoors and really loving it.  Things have been coming together and I’ve felt blessed.

When I wrote that blog post three years ago about recovery-this is the life I had imagined.  I’m more than grateful I get to live the dream.  And excited to say recovery is possible and living well is a realistic dream.  

I love it when things work out the way I imagined they could.

Two Childhood Friends Reunite

Lori Whitwam, an author, editor and one of my childhood friends, wrote an especially personal blogpost of how she came to help me with my book, “Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor:  An Olympian Journey with Mental Illness.”  Clearly without Lori, God, the Universe’s mystery and lots of support, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to publishing my book.

Read the article Lori wrote on her blog today.  It’s especially touching and a testament to how people can be brought together for the greater good.

A Project Close to My Heart by Lori Whitwam.

To Tell or Not to Tell-Getting passed insecurity

am I good enough

In January 2014, I went to the computer and learned how to use wordpress.  I decided I was going to start writing about mental illness.  It was truly scary.  What was running through my mind were things like–what will people think?  I’ll never be able to coach basketball again.  People will think I am crazy.  What if no one ever talks to me again?  How will this effect my ability to work? Do I write well enough for anyone to read it?  

The thoughts rambled on and I definitely pushed myself forward.   Writing had always been a way I found to heal myself.  A few years ago I needed a lot of healing.  The benefits far out weighed the risks.  Sharing became a powerful empowering tool.

How did it all turn out?

Well, the sky did not fall. People still talked to me.  I coached a girl’s basketball team this year. I don’t know if people think I am crazy or not, but I learned not to really care very much.  The people who love me, still love me.

What are the next big steps?

In the past year I have been writing a book about my experiences with bipolar disorder.  When I first started writing I was really guarded and conservative.  I was deciding very carefully what I would say and what I would not.  But as time passed I would have these revelations and would reassure myself that I could talk openly about anything I wanted to.  I believe people respect honesty and I decided leaving out very important truths was a bit on the side of dishonesty.

So, the next big step is putting everything on the line and telling my story including all the ugly stuff you might find hidden in a basement corner.  The things I hesitated to talk about…just like three years ago when I typed those first few words of my biography…scaryWhat will people think?  What if no one ever talks to me again? 

Insecurity is perhaps my biggest hurdle.  My old Coach the late Pat Summitt always used to tell me I was my own worst enemy.  I doubted myself too much.  But the thing about it is I was able to overcome my worst enemy.  And I am about to do it again in a big way.