Dear Mama,

As I mentioned in kicking off May as Mental Health Awareness Month – I am officially diagnosed with BiPolar I Disorder. As a former educator, mom and proclaimer of living life as always a student – I decided to tackle my recent diagnosis head on by beginning research at my local library.

The book I selected (or rather caught my attention) is called – Beating Bipolar by Blake Levine and is published by my favorite publishing house – Hay House in 2012.

In my first session with the book – I read the introduction and the first chapter to begin my journey with Blake.

The introduction is where Blake first warmly greets the reader as not only an experienced therapist, but as a fellow bipolar sufferer and a man on a mission to spread hope, encouragement, and support to his fellows.

I am still only a few days into my formal diagnosis of bipolar…

Life has been moving very quickly since my hospitalization and subsequent diagnosis…

Reading this book is my first opportunity to truly unpack the fact that I am diagnosed with a mental illness.

Blake’s message – and the fact that there is a book that I can check out and utilize to support me in this journey – is validation that I am not alone, and I will get beyond surviving, into thriving with bipolar in no time!

I am accepting my diagnosis of bipolar I disorder. I am on a path of recovery and restored health. I am now able to make the best choices to support the healing of my mind, body and spirit.

In the first chapter, Blake begins telling his story of first recognizing his manic and depressive episodes as well as his initial diagnosis and attempts at managing his bipolar disorder.

It is always a pleasure to read stories of people who are wise enough to share their life lessons from an authentic and vulnerable place. Blake does just that as he shares his ultimate truth – bipolar does not discriminate and there is only one path to living a good life with this illness – you do that by working at it each and every day.

Progress, not perfection.

Progress, not perfection – in all things.

For me- living with bipolar has to mean doing everything in my power to balance my moods to not shift between abnormal highs and lows. Even though the highs of the mania have benefitted my level of productivity and perceived ‘fun-ness’ – the truth is, I am stronger when I am in a place of understanding and accepting the limitations of my illness – including the damage my mania causes to relationships with those I love.

All of this is not me saying that life will now be free of grief and problems as a result of being diagnosed with bipolar, but it sure will be a better foundation for managing life and tackling challenges – with awareness, and acceptance.

Blake states, “When you take charge, you’re no longer on autopilot” – this is bringing attention to what one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Eckhart Tolle, would call – conscious awareness.

Being consciously aware requires being bold, brave and open – now is not the time to retreat, but the time to brave on with an open heart and true courage.

Blake also shares, “By opening your mind to healing, you’ll move from darkness into light.”

Let the light shine in!

Well let the light shine on me! I am both open and willing to healing and recovery. And I am called to do so with true courage – leading from my heart, and sharing from my heart – to help inspire and lead others in their journey towards living their best lives.

In all of this, I am beyond proud that I get the privilege of having a platform to communicate my thoughts and understanding – not only for myself, but for my daughter, Rowen.

Losing my mother so young has left me with more questions than answers regarding who she was – and ultimately who I am… My dream is that as I unpack and share who I am, labels and all, my daughter will have the option in the future to see what I created, and how I truly measured up after this lifetime of development and growth.

With hope, health and love,

Mama Robin