How Do We Heal?

Healing has been a hot topic within my life this past week. I’ve gotten so much advice regarding the subject due to my current circumstance. And if I learned anything, it’s safe to say that nobody’s healing journey is the same. Many make their journeys out to be some magical, life-changing experience when in reality, that’s not always the case.

Healing can be messy; it can be sad, it can be devastating. For me, recovery means crying. It means licking my wounds for a little bit. It means sitting in my emotions to release them and move on. Healing is a process, and nobody should rush you through it.

My process is a disaster, if I am honest. It’s a roller coaster of emotions that include days that are great and days where I can’t even get out of bed. It’s messy, and that’s okay.

But sometimes, bringing yourself to begin the healing process is difficult because we can’t stop looking back. We ask ourselves “what if” and, in turn, start spiraling towards derailment of our progress. That’s me right now. I keep looking back; I keep wondering “what if,” and in turn, I’m hindering the progress I wish to make.

We can easily be our biggest downfall. We self-sabotage, avoid, and deflect. But healing is like the seasons; things are cold and dreary for a while, but eventually, the sun comes out, the flowers bloom, and things begin to look up.

So please, don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong. Healing takes time, and eventually, your sun will start to shine again.

Being Bipolar in a Time of Quarantine

Mental illness is already hard to navigate but add a pandemic into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.

My Bipolar diagnosis came about two months after the pandemic began, and it has not been easy since. The high and lows I experience daily have been challenging, and being in quarantine has not helped.

Mental illness causes a sort of detachment from the rest of the world. Being Bipolar, I already feel mentally secluded, but now that there’s a physical component, I feel completely isolated.

Most days, simply getting out of bed is hard. Willing myself to get up, have my coffee, brush my teeth, and get ready for the day ahead is a challenge. I have to force myself to function.

You wake up with the clear objective of getting from point A to point B, craving the end of the day where you can roll back up into your blanket burrito and shut out the rest of the world.

Most days, you aren’t living; you’re surviving.

You’re holding on to the smallest moments of happiness in hopes it’ll motivate you to get through the day. You’re left waiting for an ounce of normalcy to return. You crave routine because when your mental health is in decline, a routine is so important. It provides stability in the midst of chaos.

When Covid-19 hit back in March, my introverted self was excited at the prospect of working from home. I thought the time to myself would deem beneficial, and in a few weeks, when all of this was said and done, I’d come out feeling rejuvenated. But a few weeks turned into a month, and a month turned into three, and suddenly we’re almost at the one-year mark.

I miss going into the office, seeing my coworkers, and chatting with people while getting my morning cup of coffee. I miss the commute and the energy of New York City. I miss being able to hang out with friends and family without fearing for their safety. I miss the simple things.

But here we are, in the middle of a pandemic with no clear end in sight. So what do we do? I have absolutely no idea. I could say meditate, do yoga, practice gratitude, and every other cliché in the book, but will that help? In the beginning, all of those things were powerful tools I kept in my belt, but as the months dragged on, hopelessness began to outweigh any positives that came from them.

It’s a scary feeling, hopelessness. It’s a powerful emotion that can derail any progress made; it’s the antidote to success. And that’s why this pandemic hit everyone so hard; it’s left us all with a feeling of hopelessness.

So how do we cope? That’s a hard question to answer, as even I am unsure how to cope with the lack of normalcy Covid-19 has left us with.

So I write. I write about my experience in hopes someone relates to it because you’re not alone in your feelings. For many of us, this pandemic has wholly derailed the progress we’ve made. It derailed me completely.

Before the pandemic, I was on track to success. I got a new job, worked out five days a week, went on adventures with my boyfriend, and finally felt as if I found my groove. But things change, and you either evolve with it or fight against it.

So I ask what you’ve found helpful during this strange, unprecedented time because I’m tired of fighting and could use all of the advice I can get.


Guilt. It’s a powerful emotion that can often stop us in our tracks. Guilt has a lot to do with self-reflection, making it incredibly paralyzing at times. We have to first analyze ourselves to analyze our guilt, which can mean looking deep into the good, the bad, and the ugly. Things we’ve repressed will resurface, sometimes in the most aggressive ways.

So what happens when our guilt is linked directly to our mental illness? I have a lot of guilt surrounding my Bipolar disorder. Consistently going from tumultuous highs to devastating lows can bring a tremendous sense of uncertainty, making it hard to enjoy everyday life.

The times where I’m up, I can’t help but linger on the fact that this feeling is only temporary. This uncertainty then seeps into my personal life, making it hard for me to function day to day without immense feelings of anxiety. Unfortunately, that anxiety turns to irritability, and my loved ones end up being at the forefront of my snippy nature.

And while I’ve put in the work necessary to gain back some of that control, I still find my guilt overtaking me. I cannot help but feel as if I am not doing enough. That feeling translates into me thinking that I am doing nothing but hurting those around me. Any slip-up, any ounce of irritability, even when justified, is met with an immense feeling of guilt.

Your mental illness can often feel like a weight, holding you and those around you down. You can end up feeling inadequate, broken. And while I can logically comprehend that is not the case, I still find myself drifting into that sea of uncertainty.

My family, friends, and boyfriend would be better off if I could get it together. The panic attacks, the mood swings, the depression, it’s holding them all back. And even when they reassure you that isn’t the case, guilt rears its ugly head. It shoves you deep into a hole with no way of digging yourself out.

So how do we break that cycle? How do we get out of the never-ending loop that is guilt? I genuinely believe guilt related to having a mental illness stems from our own insecurities. So to me, developing a sense of security and power is the key.

The first step in removing that guilt is building up your sense of self-worth. Understanding you are a person, and therefore, you are worthy of good is incredibly important. You are not your mental illness. Your mental illness is something you have. Stop saying, “I am depressed” or “I am bipolar.”Too often, we identify ourselves with our mental illness, forgetting there’s so much more to us.

Hi, my name is Katelyn, and I have Bipolar Disorder. But that is not who I am. I am a writer, a good friend, trustworthy, loyal, and I love unconditionally. Those are the traits that make me who I AM as a person.

My Bipolar is only a small part of me; it does not define my entire being. This sense of security gives you your power back. It enables you to acknowledge, process, and move on from all those parts of yourself you may not love. Regaining that power can help silence those intense feelings of guilt.

Of course, anything I write on this blog will be easier said than done, and this idea of regaining your security, your power is something I am still working on. But the more you work on it, the harder you train that muscle, the easier it’ll become to shut down your guilt.

Always remember, you are more than your mental illness.

The Sad Girl Monologues

Eight years ago, I wanted to die. Heavy, I know. But there I sat on the floor of my room, pill bottles in hand, ready to put an end to all of the pain, suffering, and heartache I had been battling for the last three years. Depression and anxiety had taken control of my life. The highs were incredible, but the lows were devastating.

Getting out of bed became a challenge; sleep was non-existent due to nightmares, and ultimately I felt defeated. Luckily, there was still a glimmer of hope, a small flame inside me not ready to go out quite yet. So, I made a deal with myself. I would come clean to my family and my therapist about everything and see-through whatever treatment plan they saw fit. But if things hadn’t changed by the end of that plan, I would put a permanent end to my suffering.

I think we all can all agree that’s quite the ultimatum to make with yourself at only 16 years old, but I couldn’t bear living another moment in the mental and emotional agony plaguing my life. So it was decided. I would be removed from school for a month and go into a partial hospitalization program to receive intensive individual and group therapy.

I despised it. Being monitored every second of every day made me feel like a child again. I wasn’t allowed to handle sharp objects without adult supervision, medication was locked away, and I couldn’t even shower with the door closed.

It sucked, and I was left wishing I had ended it when I had the chance. I rarely participated in group therapy, and I despised my assigned clinician. But every day from 8 a.m to 5 p.m, I was forced to go to treatment. Eventually, I began to participate, and my clinician and I even started to get along. The lack of freedom and tough love I received in treatment was just what I needed.

Because if you couldn’t tell, I didn’t kill myself. I ended up graduating high school, which was a significant accomplishment for me as I never thought I’d make it to graduation. After high school, things were going great. I excelled in college, moved out of the state temporarily, met my current boyfriend, whom I love dearly, and even landed my dream job.

But in the midst of all that, things began to plummet once again. Why? Simply put, I wasn’t being treated properly. What was thought to be Clinical Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder was Bipolar.

I know, I know. This is supposed to be a tale of hope, and now it’s just getting sad again. But to tell you my life has been perfect since going into treatment would be a lie. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

The mood swings, irritability, euphoria, and sadness, became packaged and tied together with a neat little bow, Bipolar. But the knowing doesn’t always make it easy, and in this case, it sent me into a downward spiral faster than I could blink.

I was left with so many questions and little to no answers. My biggest one being, how do I move forward? This dark cloud had engulfed me for so long, surrounding me with no exit route in sight. So how do I forge one?

That’s the golden question. Because we know it’s our job to pull ourselves out of this miserable cycle, but figuring out how to do that is the hardest part. It’s easy to convince ourselves to be happy, but that only lasts for so long before we are pulled back into that dark cloud of uncertainty.

So what happens when you feel happiness is unattainable? When you’re struggling with any mental illness, you’re quick to feel as if you’re standing in the way of your own happiness. When in reality, you’re merely trying to navigate your life’s rubble, wondering when it all started to cave in on you. And that’s a mental illness in a nutshell; it’s continuously digging yourself out of the rubble.

So what’s the point? If I know my highs are temporary, and my lows can be debilitating, why should I keep pushing forward? Well, for happiness. My friend recently told me that life isn’t about living in pure bliss. It’s about finding those moments of happiness, no matter how small, and holding onto that feeling they give you.

I understand life can be difficult, and sometimes the bad trumps the good. The point of writing this isn’t telling you, “It will get better” because sometimes it doesn’t right away. But I promise that if you fight to hold onto those small moments of happiness, life will start to feel worth living.

Eight years ago, I wanted to kill myself, and while this journey has been challenging, I am so happy I didn’t.

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