You may know me as a small business owner who works with global corporations and governments to bring about effective, lasting, sustainable change. People who have worked with me know me as an energetic, progressive-minded, forward-thinking, spiritually grounded visionary who is the founder and co-leader of WeTheChange, a movement of over 400 badass women CEOs of purpose-driven companies.
But until recently, I kept the deeper truth about myself hidden. Only those closest to me knew that at age 21, as a 4.0 Brown University student headed to medical school, I experienced my first major clinical depression and brain breakdown. I’ve kept the fact that I have suffered for most of my life with a bipolar brain hidden. Until now.
When I made the decision—a risky yet ultimately freeing one — to move beyond the stigma associated with mental health and publish my memoir, BrainStorm: From Broken to Blessed on the Bipolar Spectrum, I knew it was the right thing to do. But from a mother’s perspective, I also knew this decision could also impact those around me, especially our twin children. Before I could go public, I wanted my kids to agree that it was the right thing to do. Beautifully they gave me the strength and encouragement to go for it.
A Car Ride Beyond the Stigma
My college-aged kids assured me on a long family car ride that while much of the world still struggles to understand and accept mental health issues, more and more people, especially those in their generation, have already moved beyond the stigma of mental health.
Just listen to some of the advice and perspective my kids gave me:
- “Mom, you really could save lives! What else is more important?!”
- “Who cares what other people think of you! Tell the truth.”
- Your generation cared about it, we don’t.”
- “Attitudes about mental health have changed.”
This is an example of the blessing that comes as I move beyond the brutality of dealing with this disease.
Bipolar disorder affects over 60 million people worldwide. There are international medical journals dedicated to it, non-profit organizations supporting people who have it, and hundreds of thousands of therapists and other mental health professionals treating people who have it with talk therapy, medication, and other healing practices.
But I am not Bipolar. I am on the Bipolar Spectrum with a Bipolar II brain. I was not successfully diagnosed as such until I was 46 years old, 25 years after that first collapse. Knowing the difference between Bipolar and Bipolar II is a matter of life and death.
This disease almost killed me. Now that I am living fully with it well managed through multiple strategies, I am passionate about helping people who are suffering from depression and mental illness.
I didn’t write BrainStorm to tell my story. I wrote BrainStorm to save lives. And as a mother, my kids remind me and give me courage every day that this was and is the right thing to do.