It’s Bipolar Awareness Day & today I’m doing the hardest thing I’ve done since I bought my 1st one way ticket flight to New Zealand…
I’m coming out.
What you may not have known, until now…is that I have Bipolar disorder. I have been swallowing my story for decades now, only whispering sprinkles of the tales to some of my family and friends. Not all of them even know my story and in honor of Bipolar Awareness Day, I am ready to share part of my story.
For Bipolar Awareness Day, I choose to live in the stigma, relish in it and get comfortable in the discomfort. I don’t aim to change it, I aim to celebrate the complexities of it and to be in alignment with the part of me that craves genuine connection, authenticity, raw truths and to reach out to others going through it.
As I share today, I hold the image that I am currently sitting still in my room, cross legged on the floor, envisioning you are here with me in a circle as I open my heart to my most vulnerable secret. To let you into a world I have hidden with a key and only granted a few the opportunity to open and see.
This is my coming out post. It contains a brief overview of my diagnosis, why I have not shared until now and why I am ready to share today. It is only the beginning of more details to come.
I was diagnosed at the age of 23. I did not have any signs up until the day I found myself in a hospital after engaging in an intensive Personal Development weekend that ended in what the medical world labels as an “episode”.
After I left the hospital I met with a psychiatrist who explained that I had bipolar disorder. My loved ones were all shocked. With no one in my family having this exact mental health condition, it was unusual. This seemingly came out of left field for everyone.
I squirmed in it for over 10 years, wondering if I even had this diagnosis. ”What if it was this one event that appeared as this perfect storm and caused this break in reality?” Yet, I complied with my medication and continued along the prescribed path of routine, stable jobs, integrating back into the world rather well.
Until 4 years ago, I had my second “episode” after I went off medication (with my doctor’s approval as an experimentation that maybe I did not have Bipolar). Yet again, another perfect storm of events toppled one after the other and before I knew it, I resigned from my Director position at a company I helped build, went into a spiral and woke up with a weighted blanket at UCLA hospital on my 35th birthday. No cupcakes, balloons, parties, phone calls, only white walls, psychiatric socks, ham and cheese sandwiches and a “happy birthday”, you wanted to know if you had this “disease”, you got your wish…you do.
Fast forward to now, where I have worked hard on my recovery to manage this ailment where I can live not just a “normal” life but a rather miraculous one.
Why I Have Not Shared until Now:
I have argued with the voices that said to share on the internet, social media for people to read. The logical voice won the battle up until now. I resisted it for all these years, until a few weeks ago, when I heard a quiet voice that said “it’s time”. I still tried to wrestle and negotiate with it, to be honest, I still am.
I have spent over a decade in debate with the concern that my greatest fears would be realized. My simple truth was that I had completely failed at the game of life and everyone will now know it. Once they do, what if it all gets worse?
It was time to feel the fear…and do it anyway.
Before I got to this stance, here were my primary concerns…
My Support Team Advised Me
My angel parents, family and friends were extraordinarily logical in helping me make the choice not to share publicly in this way. This decision seemed erratic, reckless, impulsive and overall terrible. All their opinions fed into my identical fears. While we all had Morgan’s best interest in mind…there was a part of me silently suffering.
I was agreeing with these truths, which meant, I was not seeing myself as being capable of handling the consequences of sharing my story so openly.
The possibility that I would be rejected by certain insurance coverage, life, medical and more. While I do not know the intricacies of this, I am going to need to take a leap that it will be OK.
This is probably the #1 reason. I have been holding on to this shame of having Bipolar. I’ve wanted it to be a footnote in my story, instead of a main theme. I wanted to tell you all about my travels, career, relationships, findings and then at the end say, “oh, and by the way, I was diagnosed with Bipolar at 23.” I did all these cool things, including traveling the world solo, producing and starring in a heavy play about mental illness with my dad and you didn’t know this secret life of Morgan that’s been happening behind the scenes.
This current that runs through me, the things I have to monitor daily is a huge part of my story and if I do not claim it now, I will surely push away the girl in the hospital so far deep that one day she’ll explode again to get my attention to tell me to love her and to not be so afraid and ashamed by her.
When Embarrassment becomes Embracement…You’ll be unstoppable.
One Way Ticket Back to the Hospital
For an avid traveler, this was one trip I was done taking. The amount of time it takes me to integrate back into society is at least 4+ months. To feel somewhat normal can be a year, minimum. To gain some confidence back, over a year and I will still always work through this. It’s a very long process, like recovering from any accident, it’s hard to love the recovery periods while you are going through them.
I Won’t be Hirable
I am too risky and a liability for companies. Forget even the job itself, there will be no getting to the interview once I check that disability box. I can most certainly kiss most desirable jobs goodbye.
I pleaded with this voice, “Let’s wait until I get another job,” Yet, I have been saying this for what feels like centuries. Even when getting good jobs, I would say, “I don’t want to lose this job, let’s wait until I figure out my “own thing” so I won’t have to rely on anyone for money and can share afterwards.“
There was always an excuse and a valid one to say the least.
I Will be Single Forever
When it came to relationships, I thought, “well, I should wait until I am married because if this doesn’t work out, I don’t want this on the internet”.
Once a bumble match, a new interest does a deep stalking dive into my social media, that potential relationship is done. No one will see me as someone they can count on.
The Perspective Shift
I started to notice, I don’t want the things I thought I did in the way I thought I wanted them.
I was holding on to my fears more than the trust I have witnessed. I’ve done a lot of work in becoming the responsible, reliable partner I would want for myself.
To go even further, dare I say, I challenged myself to find joy in fears if they were realized. Could I potentially see aspects of the hospital as fun? That I can love this “loser” and not have to climb ladders at companies? I’m too tired to do that anyways. I’m able to be happy on my own and if I can fully accept the possibility that marriage and kids are a no…what would I have to fear?
Once I accepted, mourned and was OK with living in these fears, they didn’t seem so scary.
If I can fall in love with both sides of the grass…it is impossible for me to lose.
I have to trust that the employer or client will hire me regardless and the relationship will love me, because of this diagnosis. I’ll be seen as how I am seeing myself now: a badass warrior. I will always build myself back up regardless of what flies in. I would argue while my “life game” might not be by societies standards as winning, my resilience game is top notch.
Why I Am Ready to Share Now:
While I would battle over not feeling chosen by a company or a partner, I wondered, maybe I have to take this risk first.
If I do not choose myself, how can I expect to be chosen by others …and will I need to be chosen, once I choose myself?
The cost feels higher for me not to. It is hurting more to hold it and was confirming that this is not what self love looks like. I wanted to love all the parts, even the ones I hated.
Maybe Self-love starts with hating yourself first.
Share to get Unstuck
I’ve been traveling in Asia for 7 months now. When I hit Koh Lanta, Thailand, I posted up in a beachfront Tiny House. When I arrived, I collapsed and was unable to move. A 2 week stay led to over 2 months in that house. I felt frozen with what felt right. I was having severe travel fatigue, or possibly a very subtle current of low grade depression, sadness and anger knotted in my belly, clenched in my throat, and I was feeling constrained.
All I knew was that I could not go on any longer without reflecting in a quiet calm environment and processing the last 5 months or decades of my life. How I was living my life was wonderful, yet it was no longer feeling sustainable, desirable and I wanted to reimagine it now.
As I allowed myself to be more in the moment, listening to the waves go in and out as my soundtrack for the past 2 months, feeling my feet in the sand, enjoying more simple moments. I kept trying to identify the feelings within and my questions were, “what is next? What am I doing day to day? Where is my home? What is my job?”
I came to understand that the question of what was “next” wasn’t about focusing on the job, a relationship, making more money, where to travel , what to experience. What was next…was this. Writing this out and sharing. The “next” will reveal itself with each small action. Because without this…what was next, would be more of the same.
Tell me your past and I will tell you your future. Tell me your present…and we will create your future.
Share for Deeper Healing and Understanding
As I am starting to view Bipolar as a strength, I see it being my superpower. I have learned the polar opposites of emotions and am starting to become the Master of moods and becoming friends with the voices within. I’ve had to learn different layers of self awareness, find a deep compassion for myself and others, know the boundaries in my inner and outer world.
To go through an extraordinarily horrifying, humiliating experience and allow it to cower me down only to have that tension propel me here, to this moment, sitting on the floor, with my sea view and an overwhelming sense of pride of how far I have come to make what I assumed was impossible…possible.
I am becoming proud of the scar and my feelings have flipped on its head. Instead of seeing Bipolar as a barrier and something that I will always have to “deal” with. I thought, what if…
My kryptonite is actually my superpower.
Share to Connect & Be of Service to Others
I no longer want to make this journey all about me. I have grown a lot and found ways to embark on adventures and created my own DIY digital nomad lifestyle. My current life might appear rather risky for someone with my diagnosis, yet, I have done it successfully, responsibly and with support.
It will always be important to have my boundaries, continue to choose myself and cultivate self love. Now that I have figured out how to spin those plates in the air more, I can report back to others looking to transform their paths. I can find a way to give back and help other versions of Morgan’s suffering and wondering if this is as good as it gets.
Share to Ride into the Unknown
As I reflected on the last two weeks moving from Koh Lanta to Koh Tao, I acknowledged that I turned 39 on March 9th in paradise. While it has been very emotional and far from it being only turquoise water, lush jungles and motorbikes, I remembered that the girl staring at the wall 4 years ago in the hospital on her 35th birthday, scared, alone and where getting up to brush her teeth was a win (and it was), might need to hear that she is powerful and created miracles. I want to give her a hug and tell her it’s Ok now, she is safe.
While I gently honor and slowly release the tales I am imaging that maybe there is just as cool of an unknown as buying a one way ticket to a foreign country, with no plans and watching the magic of the universe.
Perhaps, I’ve had to travel around the world to really hear my own voice, gain clarity and see the bigger picture…just a bit more. Baby steps!
So here I am, metaphorically purchasing my next one way ticket. Except this time it isn’t to India, Turkey, Peru, Brazil, Norway, Maldives, Tanzania for more bucket list destination experiences.
It’s my ticket to the next experience I want to have. The opening of my heart so big that I reach as far and wide as possible. To show all the broken and healed pieces.
This might be the scariest unknown I am about to jump into and I am literally holding my own hand as I click “publish”… I am certain you are beside me in this circle holding it too.
Here we go…