Every year more and more patients are stepping out and sharing their story with the world. These newbies deserve to be recognized for their courage and inspiration. Help us give these new Patient Leaders, just like Cindy, the encouragement they need to keep putting in the hard work. Nominate them for the WEGO Health “Rookie of the Year” Award today!
My name is Cindy Brennan and this is my story about having mental illness:
Sometimes I wonder why I was chosen (so to speak) to be born with a bipolar brain. Maybe God thought I was strong enough to handle everything that comes along with it. The highs and lows. The high (mania) I won’t lie feels wonderful. You feel so full of energy, need less sleep, feel extreme happiness, have confidence that you can do anything like nothing can stop you. For me, it also feels like I’m walking on air. Everything is more intense, colors seem brighter, feelings are more heightened, and you feel you can do no wrong.
Then I have the lows, for the most part, they are manageable. But when the extreme lows hit, the depression is so bad, it literally takes everything you have to get out of bed, go to work and do the everyday stuff that needs to be done.
And for me, when the real bad depression hits, it often feels like I’m underwater drowning. I’m only inches from the surface, but as I struggle, something is always pulling me back down further into the darkness you so desperately want to get out of. That is when you have to find the strength to pull yourself up and keep going. And if you have a good support group like I have, God, family, and friends you can make it. You also have to understand that this not only affects you but your family as well.
The worst thing you can say to someone like me when the severe depression hits is snap out of it or get control over it. It is simply not that easy, if I could snap out of it, or take control of it I would – trust me. Then I also have racing thoughts, trouble with concentration and trouble with my memory to the point where I can easily forget stuff. I have had conversations and have watched programs that I swear I never had, and that is very scary. The only way I can describe how it feels in my head when I have the racing thoughts and confusion is like a rubber ball you get out of a gumball machine. Throw it to the ground as hard as you can, see how it whips around the room and in every direction? That is how it feels. Then not only do I have bipolar, I also have anxiety and panic attacks. And when all of this is combined and hits at once you’re in for one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride. And trust me it is anything but fun.
When all is said and done, you find out just how bad you can hurt, or put yourself or worse yet the ones you love in danger. In the extreme mania, I have gone through, I have hurt a lot of people. See even when you don’t realize it at the time, once you come out of the mania and find out what you did, the damage is done and it takes a long time to make it right and earn the trust back you broke. Every action you take has consequences, and even though you may not remember everything you do, you still have to make the wrong you did right.
Why did I decide to tell my story? I want to let people know, mental illness is real, even if you can’t see it. It is not contagious, it is something you are born with. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I’m trying to get rid of the stigma that comes along with a mental illness. People need to be educated so you can understand this an illness just like diabetes or cancer, you just can’t see it.
Now you know my story, that I deal with mental illness on a daily basis. Some days are better than others just like everyone else. But for me, it can be a little more challenging. I am the same person you have known, only now you know I have a mental illness. If you can’t understand or handle knowing this and have to take me out of your life I understand and I am okay with that. I won’t lie, if that happens it will hurt a lot. I just want the stigma of mental illness to stop and people to be educated and informed, then you can form your own thoughts and opinions on the subject.
This is my story, my life with mental illness. Thank you for listening.
Love to all,
Cynthia S. Brennan was born and raised in Williamsport Pa. When she was 17 years old, she moved to Tunkhannock Pa. with her family. Her father John A. Kita worked for Proctor and Gamble, her mother Rose D. Kita worked in retail. She is the youngest of three children. She has dealt with depression since her late teenage years. She also has bipolar 1, anxiety, panic attacks and ADHD.
Cindy completed high school and some college. She has been employed for the past 15 years for a neurologist. Although she struggles with bipolar on a daily basis, she has good days and bad like everyone else. She is very fortunate to have a good support system, her faith, family, friends and her employer.
Cindy hopes that people who read her story on how bipolar has affect her life also understand that is can affect your relationships with family and friends. Because when you come down from a manic episode, no matter what you did, or don’t remember doing, you are still responsible for your actions and have to take Responsibility for your actions and have to accept their outcomes.