It’s a pleasure to have Nicole on the blog today to share her personal battle with mental illness. She’s striving to find her own journey to happiness, and I know that she’s doing a great job. Just a warning to those in the depths of mental illness, this post does pose a possible trigger for some. Please tread lightly, and if you need to talk please let me know. I’m here for you and I will help as best I can.
Lowest of Lows…But There’s Still Hope
My Diagnosis Won’t Define Me
I’ve been plagued with mood swings like this since I was a child, and most of my life I just dealt with them, feeling the incredible highs and the horrifying lows. In my early 20’s, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, something that made complete sense and explained the raging mood swings. I’ve had suicidal thoughts, I’ve placed a knife to my wrist, and I’ve known that a bullet to the brain would be the only thing that could stop the black cloud that puts so much pressure on my brain during my lows, but I’ve also been incredibly strong in fighting these urges.
I’ve known that I am meant for more than what this illness wants me to believe – so I’ve always kept fighting – sometimes with medication, sometimes with things that were probably not best for me, but fighting is what I did best. When I had my son the euphoria of having this wonderful bundle of adorableness seemed to make the fight in me a little greater – he was a reason I couldn’t slip up, that I couldn’t let the black cloud pressure my brain into that horrible oblivion.
Fighting the Trigger
Boredom is another thing that has inundated me forever. I start something, a career, a hobby, a relationship, a place I’m living, and after a year or more I’m ready for a change. It is like my brain needs consistent change to stay happy. I get bored and then I get depressed and then the black cloud is given a greater opening to pressure and hurt my brain. So I’ve always switched careers, taken different courses, moved around, whatever I could do to keep up with the happy side of myself so that I could fight off that dark cloud.
When my husband and I began discussing living in an RV full time, homeschooling our son and traveling the country, my brain began doing cartwheels! I was already bored at work, even though I was doing well and making good money, it wasn’t making me happy, and when the boredom and unhappiness begin it is only a matter of time before the dark cloud begins roaring its ugly head. So I dove into researching this type of lifestyle, became obsessed with living on the road, and after months of research, we did it! We sold most of our belongings, sold our home and bought an RV to start our new life as nomads.
Finding My Journey to Happiness
We have been on the road for three months now, just the beginning of this wonderful journey, and it isn’t always perfect, especially with three kids in such a small place, but my brain is constantly occupied. New places and new people keep me from being or feeling depressed most of the time. Full-time RVing hasn’t become a miracle cure for my bipolar disorder – I still have lows and highs – queue the bathroom scene from above – but what is different now is that I have this open space in my brain that is filled with happiness from my family and from our road life, so when the dark cloud is overtaking my brain, when I’m a blubbering blob of mess in the bathroom stall, I have a new weapon to fight back the darkness.
I picture my family, smiling by the side of Niagara Falls or swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, and the darkness loses some of its power. So while I will always be beset with being bipolar, with having extreme highs and abysmal lows, the lows aren’t as low now and don’t last as long, and the highs are just perfect. I know the RV life or road living life may not be the classical prescription for mental illness, but it seems to be doing wonders for me – I’m rarely bored and I have much more to be happier about. My fight is stronger and my happiness is greater. Life on the road for me has become the road to my mental health.
Nicole is a mother, writer, and explorer that currently lives full time in a 28’ Class C RV, traveling the country with her family and learning to become a digital nomad. Her path to happiness is found in her family, her passion, and the road.
Thank you for joining me for #MentalHealthMonday and be sure to check out Nicole’s blog! She’s a great woman and I loved working with her. Have you had a personal struggle or triumph with mental illness? I’d love to hear your story, you can comment below or go to my contact me page if you’d rather keep it private. I can’t wait to hear your story.