Yvette Hass-1

Photo courtesy of Yvette Hess

I am a mother of 3 boys and a wife who lives side by side with Bipolar Disorder Type 1. As much as it finds itself in my daily life, it does not own my life. This is on the good days of course.

The bad days can be difficult to get through, especially when I can’t think, read, or write because words come rushing through fiercely from my brain. My manic spells sends ghosts to haunt me and I find myself roaming the house for things that don’t exit. But I hear them and I have the energy to go look for them, because who needs rest and sleep anyway? Everything is loud and children are noisy.

My down days send me to the pit where I can’t lift myself to shower or get up to eat. I can’t function. I can’t be alone. I become so dependent on my husband that I hate being in a room without him. Paranoia eats at me and I almost bleed from worry. I hurt myself with words and problems that don’t exist.

And just like that, on the correct dose adjusted medication, I am well. I am reliable, strong and can manage my blog and projects. I can juggle family demands and my dreams. Oh, I can dream!

When I am well, I can trust myself.

My name is Yvette Hess and it’s taken me two years to come to terms with my illness. I have struggled to see through projects, jobs and attempts at my degree several times due to monster. I took a long time to discover who I was beyond the borders of this illness and I hear that’s pretty normal. I think what took me so long to accept my illness was the stigma around it. People still treat me differently after hearing I have a mental illness. I was uncomfortable with this. In our country, stigma is widespread and problematic for those seeking help. From the poorest seeking medical help, to the wealthiest seeking peer support, we all here are affected. Yet, we find ourselves scrambling to self-medicate with alcohol and cheap thrills.

I decided to start an online community where are stories about mental illness are published. There is currently very little local online support available. The aim of the project is to educate people about mental illness and make mental health an ongoing conversation, regardless of one’s diagnosis or culture. The project is called Our Lived Experience because often we forget that knowledge lives in people—where wisdom is created.

I cannot do it alone. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt on my journey thus far. I cannot save the world alone. I need support to achieve my goals. I hope more initiatives like this are started to keep conversations going. No one has to die quietly inside. My motto is, “I am not invisible, so why should my illness be?” because my illness causes physical symptoms. I’m ill, just like someone with diabetes or cancer. So we need to give mental illness the attention it needs.

There’s always help. There’s always hope.

Learn more about Our Lived Experience
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