If the life we live speaks for us, at times, I have wondered what mine was saying.
Today, I have empowered myself to empower others by getting back into the driver’s seat of my life and steering the wheel to my chosen destination.
My truth is that I am a bipolar diabetic. While being a diabetic carries no social stigma or shame, mental illness does and, often, those diagnosed with this illness live under a veil of secrecy and shame. Before I encourage you, let me share my truth.
Bipolar disorder, commonly referred to as manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania, you may feel euphoric, full of energy, or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect your sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior, and even your ability to think. Diabetes produces some of these same feelings as well as other issues. Imagine dealing and living with both. But here is where the miracle begins.
The truth is we all have our battles and challenges in life, but that should not be what defines us. The miracle is that each one of us has the ability to control the trajectory of our life and can do so. We also need to know when to ask for help and to reject all beliefs that we must suffer or heal alone. The pull yourself up by your bootstraps cliche is unrealistic and can be deadly. When I try to do it all on my own, I feel like I am drowning, despite what it looks like from the outside. As a military veteran, I am used to warring/battling and just “handling it.” In order to thrive, I had to take a different approach and so do you.
It’s time to put on your management hat. Instead of being worried about what challenges, obstacles, or problems you face, focus instead on how to address or “manage” them. I realized that if I’m going to win the battle, I have to stay on top of it, one day at a time and one struggle at a time. I started by accepting the facts. The fact is I am a bipolar diabetic. If I have a depressive outbreak, it triggers my diabetes, which affects my glucose level which alters my mood further. My glucose levels can increase my cravings making it harder for me to make the best eating choices. Making the wrong choices not only affects my thought process but also leads to feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and depression which can trigger my bipolar disorder. Oh, did I mention that when my bipolar depression kicks in it triggers my bad spending habits? I’m left overwhelmed by the unpaid bills, unfinished projects around the home, and my mind that feels like a runaway train during these times.
Back to the facts: I am in a position of power because I have the knowledge and ability to make decisions in harmony with the facts and manage my illness. When we realize that we have the power to change or improve our situation, we are no longer bound by it. We may not be able to eliminate or remove the situation, but we can definitely buffer the impact and harmful effects in order to live our best life. I emphasize “our best life” and not someone else’s. That is where our time and energy should be focused.
I learned the importance of giving myself permission to be vulnerable and release my shame. If thriving, freedom, and peace are your goal, it is important that you reveal to heal. Initially, I felt apprehensive about sharing my deepest and sacred secret of struggling with mental health, but I knew it was necessary. People that read my story in the books Mind over Mental Health and The Mom in Me 2, asked how I handle all that I do. 1) God; 2) God; and 3) family. Even with family, most of them do not know about my mental health challenges. There are days when I feel like I’m on top of the world and then I get hit with a diabetes or bipolar outbreak. I battle and feel like I have conquered the war only to be challenged by another episode. But the facts are that I am more than a conqueror and there is something I can do when challenges and obstacles come. So can you.
I challenge you to get up, keep moving, and refuse to remain in silence. Hiding fixes nothing and, despite what television depicts, depression is not just sitting around moping and crying in the dark. I work full-time, I am a mother, and I am a bipolar diabetic. Yes, there are days that I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, but I realize the importance of rest and restoration instead of trying to be a superwoman and just smile, say “everything is okay”, and push myself. Sometimes, a pause and period of rest is what is needed.
We are greater than our challenges, obstacles, and circumstances. I am determined to LIVE and thrive. I am not a number or statistic and I will not allow any number to determine my fate. I am a “manager” for the pursuit of happiness, wholeness, and wellness. While I did not choose diabetes or bipolar disorder, I do choose to not be a victim of either but an example of strength, wholeness, and success. What about you?
About Our Guest Contributor
Danielle M. Batiste is a mother, bestselling author, speaker and advocate. Danielle is a native of Louisiana, but currently lives in Newport New, VA with her family. Family is her "why". She shows up in the world bravely to build a legacy of serving others, for her son Brandon.
Danielle is a veteran, and knows the pitfalls that the life of a solider can bring to the family unit - especially the effects of a parent being deployed, in the mind and emotions of a child. In her book, "Cryin' Out - Separation Anxiety and The Solder's Child" - she shares the wisdom of her own family's experience. Danielle is a powerful advocate and speaker for the military family community, most importantly those who cannot express their own pain - the children.
Danielle is a woman of purpose and cause, thus her sophomore solo literary project is also one of educating and advocacy. In her book "Let Go My Glucose - Winning with Type 2", she pens her journey back to a healthy Danielle, after receiving the diabetes diagnosis. In this powerful work, Danielle rises to the occasion of being one who is able to help and support others in their own journeys with this potentially deadly disease. Her truth and transparency is a benefit to any audience. You can also find Danielle's writing in "Set Apart and Chosen", her chapter is titled, Introvert to Public Figure.
Danielle has been published in newspaper articles and interviewed on Pittsburgh talk show, PCTV21. She is true gem to any audience.