Jen

Jen

“My primary goal in starting this project was to let other people know that mental illness is not something that only happens to someone else. It can happen to anyone, and when it does, your whole world is turned upside down. The more people we can educate about the symptoms and how to support us, the fewer people will have to suffer in the future.”

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MENTAL ILLNESS WASN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN TO ME (top)
The Columbus skyline reminds me of where I used to be. I worked in one of those impressive buildings. I had found the job I was meant to do. I was good at it and had won the respect of my bosses and peers. Becoming mentally ill was not part of my plan, but it happened anyway. I kept asking, “Why?” What did I do to make this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?

WHEN THE CONNECTIONS GO DEAD (second from top)
Imagine the electricity that powers your home, your microwave, your air conditioner was no longer there. How much more difficult would your life be? That's what having a mental illness is like. The wires and the power grid are still there, but the messages don't get through. Think about the fear and frustration you feel when the electricity goes out in your home; now imagine in if that was happening to your mind.

THE WHIRLWIND AND ITS AFTERMATH (second from bottom)
Bipolar disorder is a jarring series of conflicting emotions. Living with the disease brings constant fear of not knowing where the next week, day or even hour will take you emotionally. When you’re depressed you feel ripped away from your roots. Everything you thought you knew about yourself and your place in the world is torn away. Mania is a whirlwind that makes you feel uplifted, free and falsely confident. It may feel good for the moment, but the aftermath is always the same.

LEARNING TO BLOSSOM (bottom)
“There came a time when the risk it took to stay in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” –Anais Nin
Learning to blossom with a mental illness is an ongoing process. I have found I must continually evaluate where l am and where I want to be. Having a mental illness is frightening and giving up the safety of the closed-in bud I have made for myself is never easy. While I never imagined I would become mentally ill and although the journey of recovery has been difficult, I consider myself lucky. I feel optimistic about my future. I can finally feel the closed bud of my illness blossoming into a life worth living.