Not long ago, I was knocked down flat by an uber-virus that everyone seemed to be catching. In the throes of my throbbing raw throat, faucet nostrils, and heaving cough, I was comforted knowing that many others knew exactly what I was going through: a cold like this was the most normal thing in the world.
One colleague handed me cough lozenges without my asking. Another rushed to his knapsack and pulled out an essential oils vial, and rolled a halo of medicinal vapor around my neck and temples. Cancelling plans that week was easy, and I didn’t have to explain a thing. People understood colds. But as I kept noticing and reflecting on the comfort, I felt from this universal understanding and the simplicity and ease in explaining my illness, it all had me wondering about my mental health condition—my bipolar disorder.
When I first told my psychiatrist about my plans to travel to Taiwan to perform in a new music theatre production, I thought she might be a little concerned but otherwise supportive. To my surprise, she instead advised that I scrap the idea, and not go at all! She then told me about another patient who, like me, managed well day-to-day with bipolar, and recently traveled to Thailand for a wedding. The trip did not go well.
Everyday we hear mental illness terms being used in inappropriate and derogatory ways. Terms like schizo, manic, ADHD and of course, bipolar. I find it scary that these terms are used with zero sensitivity or regard for those of us living with a mental illness. I thought we had come farther than this.
Although the following is written from the perspective of a self-employed freelance musician, I believe the issues addressed below provide useful insight for people who work in all fields.
I was recently reminded of the differences between working hard and overworking through a terrific video created by fellow cellist and freelancer, Emily Davidson. Continue reading
There are many wonderful books and articles out there on the power of minimalism and its effect on your mental health and well-being. Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist describes it as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” Continue reading
Sometimes, when you are finally thriving, you occasionally forget about your illness and blissfully slip into “pre-diagnosis” mode. While feeling “normal” is often what we yearn for, one problem can creep up: you forget to manage your illness. We forget that remembering to state what we need is extremely important, especially when we are feeling well. This post expands on one of my 10 Travel Tips: know what you need.
From my initial bipolar diagnosis to reaching a “new normal” two and a half years later, I have questioned and analyzed every single emotional state and thought process, as well as every experience I have had throughout my entire life.
Since I have type I bipolar I am more prone to manic episodes than depression. A lot of my reflecting compares being stable on medication (boring!), versus the whirlwind of creativity I seem to have when I experience manic symptoms (fun!). Continue reading
Tomorrow I stuff my suitcase, cello, and myself into a six person carpool and drive for nine hours to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to perform with ELO tribute band Strange Magic.
Before my diagnosis in 2013, I could travel like a rock star. For example, I spent two years taking a weekly red-eye bus to work, which seemed just fine on paper, even a little badass. So was cramming several bandmates into one hotel room, or driving through the night in a snowstorm right after a show with a car full of bassoon players. Continue reading
This morning I had forgotten to make eating my absolute first and foremost priority, and boy was I feeling it. Behold! The topic for my very first blog post. Continue reading