I’m Stable. Now What? My Radicalization Journey

“I don’t want to stay in the bad place, where no one believes in silver linings or love or happy endings.” ―Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook

Sometimes I feel like everything there is to be said, has been said about mental illness. Or perhaps I’m just reaching a new level with my illness. My radicalization. Sometimes it feels as if I’ve read every inspirational quote or meme ever made. Some of them I’ve even written or made myself.

Yes, you wouldn’t tell me to get over it if I had cancer.
No, you wouldn’t question me taking insulin if I were diabetic.

I have spoken, written, or blogged about every possible aspect of having bipolar disorder and anxiety. I did it at first as a catharsis for myself. Later, it was for journaling my experiences. Lastly, it became a way to share my life with others for a “me too” moment. If someone like me can reach the very bottom, try to give up, and rise back up to stability and contentment—so, too, can others. Maybe not everyone, but I like to think I have encouraged some with my life stories.

But now what? Where do I go from here?

Fortunately, due to a brilliant psychiatrist, an effective med buffet, hours and hours of therapy and a commitment to learning cognitive skills, and med compliance–I have remained stable for nearly five years. After a decade of depression and a few wild roller coaster rides, I’ve become the master of my domain and a poster girl for stability.

I don’t even think of my bipolar anymore. It’s not part of my conversation, nor my physicality. Sure, I’m tied to pill trays in the morning and at night, but otherwise, I motor along blending in like anyone else. I no longer have panic attacks, rarely get down, and that infamous bipolar rage is mostly in check.

I’m just so over it.

Am I still a mental health advocate? Absolutely. Will I continue to share my story? Yes, the written ones, but I find that reaching back to re-experience the memories to write new ones is sometimes a hazard to my health.

I’m so many other things than a girl with bipolar disorder. It is last on my list of descriptors and something I rarely share with new friends. It would be like saying, “Oh, yes, did I mention I have hemochromatosis?” Which I do, but it would be so random to insert this fact into a conversation. And this is what bipolar has become for me.

Is there a place for stable people? Some secret society like Mensa where you can be happy about it among members, but appear empathetic out in the world. And I am. I honestly and truly am a natural empath. But I can no longer build my life around this mental illness.

So if you meet a girl on the street and find a contented person who tells you she paints, draws, restores old furniture, sews and knits, volunteers, and takes care of her 85-year-old mother–please be very happy for her. She loves life and especially loves her hard-earned life. Oh, and one small thing—she has bipolar disorder.

Photo Credit: JayCob L. via Compfight cc





Dori Owen

Dori Owen is a storyteller, writing from small town Arizona, after living a few decades in California as an LA Wild Child, with a brief stop in Reno. She settled into grownup life as a project manager, collecting an MBA and a few husbands along the way. She is a shown artist and her favorite pastime is upcycling old furniture and decor she finds from thrift stores. She lives with her rescued terrier, Olivia Twist, and the cat who came to visit but stayed. The love of her life is her grown son who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her essays and poems have been published in RAW&UNFILTERED VOL I, StigmaFighters Vol 2, and Love Notes From Humanity. Her blogs have been featured on The Lithium Chronicles, Open Thought Vortex, Sudden Denouement, and The Mighty.

17 thoughts on “I’m Stable. Now What? My Radicalization Journey

  1. Susan P. BlevinsSusan P. Blevins Reply

    Dori, who am I to say I’m proud of you, but I am!! I salute you with my whole heart. Not an easy thing to do, and it’s a lifetime choice, but you found your peace and contentment. I wish more people could find what you have found, with or without bipolar anything coming into the argument!
    I love you!
    xoxo

  2. BFab Reply

    I’m with you, my sweet Dori. I’ve had the same good fortune and done the same hard work. It took 13 years of “doing all the right things” (the “c” word), 10 psychiatrists, 7 long hospitalizations, and a bazillion meds and combinations therein. I’ve had 7 years of beautiful calm. I’m sick of waiting about it–this may be my last time! While society may never see me as “well” with my label, what matters is that I do. I won’t stop being an advocate. I’ll get that degree that will make me a clinician. I’ll infiltrate the system with
    What it’s lacking–HOPE. I’ll never think of myself as “bipolar” again (even if my meds need to be more than tweaked). I’m on the other side now. No more bitterness. No more fear. The “crazy” girl has been returned to (biological) sender. I’m just a 40-something girl who’s on a mission. Nothing will stop me. Nada.
    I love and admire you more than mere words can say, Dori. You have been a major part of my new life and I’m so damn grateful. Love, M

    1. doriowendoriowen Reply

      Amen, sistah. I know you understand how I feel because it’s exactly the same as you!
      Heart heart heart….xoMamaT

  3. Mary Rowen Reply

    This is great, Dori. You’re living proof that therapy and medication can work effectively to treat mental illness. I wish more people who’ve been treated successfully would write their stories. You’re an inspiration and source of hope.

    1. doriowendoriowen Reply

      Thanks, Mary. I never thought this day would come because I was sick for so long….now I do the Happy Dance with gratitude every day! xoD.

  4. Stephanie Ortez Reply

    I hope someday to reach this level of stability like you have Dori. Sometimes I feel i’m finally there, then depression makes a gran entrance. I do not wish to return to the pajama Hilton anytime soon, I will follow your example 🙂 it takes hard work but it is possible to lead a “normal” life despite mental illness.

    1. doriowendoriowen Reply

      I really didn’t believe it was possible for such a long, long time. This may sound silly….but you have to hold on to hope that it WILL happen. Hah! I better not have any more PJ stays! Love you xoD.

  5. doriowendoriowen Reply

    Thanks, Richard. What you say is so true. I’ve already done hard time where my illness defined me. A few fun stays at The Pajama Hilton. Not no more. I’ve worked so hard to get to this place and I’m going to work harder to stay here! ~D. P.S. Your poem, “Romantics,” is one of my favorites. It’s soooo good!

  6. Nicole Lyons Reply

    I love this so much!

    “Is there a place for stable people? Some secret society like Mensa where you can be happy about it among members, but appear empathetic out in the world. And I am. I honestly and truly am a natural empath. But I can no longer build my life around this mental illness.”

    And I am so happy for you. You are extraordinary. Love this hard.

    1. doriowendoriowen Reply

      Thank you Thank you Thank you…..you do realize I’d never have submitted anything anywhere if not for your confidence-building pep talks? I still think my writing sucks but I’m still swimming! I love you SO much, my Canadian sistah! xo D

  7. Richard DeFinoRichard DeFino Reply

    I really, really love this. I love the “med buffet reference”! Sometimes I feel like my anxiety and derealization is consuming me and no one out there understands, because it’s mental health and not an immediate love threatening illness.

    1. doriowendoriowen Reply

      Thanks, Richard. What you say is so true. I’ve already done hard time where my illness defined me. A few fun stays at The Pajama Hilton. Not no more. I’ve worked so hard to get to this place and I’m going to work harder to stay here! ~D. P.S. Your poem, “Romantics,” is one of my favorites. It’s soooo good!

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