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erin laughI don’t write much about my struggle with bipolar disorder on the blog, I believe partly because its a newer and less familiar diagnosis of mine (compared to my 13 year struggle with eating disorders/body image/food). I was diagnosed during my sophomore year of college (2010). Prior to being diagnosed I thought my mood changes were at least semi normal. Being in college I initially used the mania to my advantage not sleeping and becoming hyper vigilant/obsessed with school and my grades. During the times of great depression I withdrew from the world into my bed for days. The only person who really saw how bad it was was my roommate and as she tried to help and pushed her away. During this time I was attempting to work on eating disorder recovery but just as my moods fluctuated my behaviors did as well.

As my doctors/treatment providers become more aware of what was going on and began putting me on medications initially my moods became more pronounced. My manias became more pronounced as did my depressions. My mom would have to come stay with me in my room at school to make sure I was safe and occasionally I would end up in a hospital program. Trying different medications felt like a NEVER ENDING process. Sometimes it seemed like I was on so many medications I couldn’t even tell if any of them were working. The truth was though I was using my eating disorder behaviors to rid them from my body without giving them a chance to work most of the time.

This time of my life was really dark for me; but not just for me. My family was terrified every single time the phone rang erinbwsmilebecause they didn’t know what was going to be at the other end. I remember vividly wanting to be free from the Hell that I felt trapped in. But day in day out people encouraged me to taking one little step at a time (even if that meant into a higher level of care).

Eventually my treatment providers convinced me that I would never get my bipolar disorder under control and be able to manage the constant hell of mania and depression if I did not go into a more long term treatment program for my eating disorder. For me, these two disorders were so desperately intertwined. I entered the program and learned there that there really was a connection between the two.

The battle didn’t all the sudden end though. Recovery is an everyday thing from both diseases. It’s a balancing act. It’s about doing the recovery stuff even when I don’t want to. It’s about taking small steps when everything feels extra hard and it’s about looking back and being proud at how far I have come.

Today I’m in recovery and still work hard to stay there. I’ll work hard for the rest of my life. I take medication for my moods and brain. I  practice emotional regulation, mastery, exercise, eating healthy, getting good sleep, I work to actively be thankful, and I make sure to rest when I need it. I’m not perfect at recovery all the time either (which is hard because I’m a perfectionist) and that’s okay because I’m in this for the long haul. What’s amazing is when looking back to 2010 (almost 4 years ago) it is impossible for me to describe to you the helplessness that I felt; I was ready for to end it all. Today however while I have hard days I’m proud to say that I feel capable and filled with hope.

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.

Erin Joy