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I know this is a great way to start an article, but I recently spent time in a mental institution. Yes, I know, I must be a loony right? No. I have bipolar disorder type 1 as well as Borderline Personality Disorder, ADD, and severe anxiety. I am on the correct medication for it, but life gets the best of all of us sometimes and we all get down in the dumps. When I got down in the dumps this time, it was bad. I needed to be in a safe place. A place where I could not hurt myself. It scared me, because I don’t normally get like that. So my therapist, husband and I decided that I needed to be in a place where I could recuperate and get the help I needed to get better. Bipolar depression is nothing to mess with. So off I went to Saint Vincent’s Behavioral Health facility in Little Rock, Arkansas. I thought I would spend a few days, rest, relax, chill out, get my medicines changed, because at the time we thought that was the problem. My first day in, I talked to my Psychiatrist there, and he told me that he thought my problem was NOT my medication. I was like “WHAT?” So how did I go from living such a normal life to being so depressed? It was situational, behavioral. It was MY fault. I couldn’t see that. But over the course of the next couple of days I learned some things.


In my first session of group therapy, the guy was talking about “labels” this and “labels” that… and I was wondering why he kept talking about labels. He looked directly at me and said “You are not bipolar.” I got offended and said “Yes sir, I am!” And so the debate went on. He told me that I may HAVE bipolar disorder but that I AM not bipolar, I AM not BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and I AM not ADD. I just HAVE symptoms of these disorders, but I AM so much more than that. I had a personal session with him that afternoon and he asked me what it is I do that calms me. I told him that I play guitar, and I sing, and write and get creative with my bad self. He laughed and said, “Well, what kind of guitar do you play?” I told him acoustic and he asked me would I like him to bring me an acoustic guitar for group that evening because he collected guitars and he could do that for me. I jumped for joy, I was going to get to play guitar for people!! It was then I realized that I hadn’t played in two weeks because of my depression. He brought a guitar for me to play that afternoon for group. He also brought drawing supplies for another woman, allowed another to read a poem she’d written, and classical music for another, and drumsticks for someone else. All to prove that we are so much more than just a label…. we can do so much more than that. We are capable of so much more than what our illnesses seem to limit us to. The possibilities are actually limitless. I played a song called “Praise You in This Storm” by a band called Casting Crowns, which was actually a very appropriate song, and they all cheered. This made me feel great. I was on cloud nine. The man had proved his point. I am so much more than a label.


Another thing that I learned while I was there is that my actions, reactions, choices and decisions, decides how I feel. If I make the choice to be depressed after something happens, for example, someone doesn’t do for me what they say they are going to do, I could choose to be sad and depressed about it, or I could choose to go on with my life, and get over it and deal with it gracefully. I make that choice. I learned that the medications that I am on only control the chemicals in my brain, not me. I control me. I control everything about how I react in a situation, so if I react badly that’s my bad. My new positive affirmation on life is… “I choose not to be depressed, I choose to live a happy and healthy life.” I made that up and I am sticking to it. I can choose to react wisely to situations or I can react badly to them. It’s my choice. I actually wrote a song called “It’s My Choice” about how nobody but me can help me, and its up to me to live the best I can and do the best I can to get better, and be better. Medications only affect your brain, you control you. So control you, don’t label yourself and be the best you that you can be. That’s all anyone can ever ask for. You are so much more than just a label, no matter what kind of label it is you are putting on yourself. You may not be ill at all, it may be a different kind of label. Don’t label yourself. Decide to be happy, and positive. That’s all I’ve got to say. Cheers.

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