36 → Ontario, Canada → Mom, Wife, Nurse, Writer → Bipolar & PPD → Medication, Meditation, Writing, Exercise, Sleep.
R: Tell us a little bit about yourself… who are you?
K: I am a 36 year old mom, wife, pet owner, published writer, blogger, and cooker of burnt bacon.
I also have a thing called bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, half a metal spine, osteoarthritis, and a mole on my right cheek that my son thinks is kind of gross.
Basically, I’m a whole lot of awesome and awkward.
R: Where do you live?
K: I live in Ontario, Canada
R: How old are you?
K: 36 years old.
R: What did you do before?
K: I used to be a paediatric emergency room nurse but I destroyed my spine dragging an unresponsive patient into the hospital.
Now I am a stay at home mom and blogger.
R: What does home life look like – family / pets?
K: Sometimes it’s pure chaos – my son’s travel hockey schedule, our blind dog who doesn’t know if he’s inside or outside anymore, my husband’s undying need to remodel things and not finish them, and we own a cannibal fish.
There’s laughter and sometimes arguing over who let dog eat the socks – what house doesn’t? – but always lots of love.
R: What makes you happy?
K: My husband and son, snuggling with my dog, writing, sitting on the couch with a hot tea and warm socks, silence, everything about the summer.
The boy child picked Nana's flowers from her beloved garden for me. "Momma, will this make your back feel good?"… pic.twitter.com/qNAih1As
— Kimberly M (@momgosomething) September 21, 2012
R: How long have you had Bipolar?
K: I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 in 2011.
R: How would you describe Bipolar in your own words?
K: Someone had asked me what is it like and it had stumped me. Aside from saying that having bipolar was pure hell, I told her that it was like waking up groggy and disorientated first thing in the morning and then immediately stepping into a busy downtown club.
“Aside from saying that having bipolar was pure hell, I told her that it was like waking up groggy and disorientated first thing in the morning and then immediately stepping into a busy downtown club.”
It would be that feeling – completely overwhelmed with lights and noises – and the speed in which you’re hit with as you try to process what is happening with this world around you.
You feel panicked and terrified.
There are so many facets to bipolar – the mania, hypomania and depression – and this is just a fragment of how I experience it.
— BonBon Break (@BonBonBreak) October 19, 2016
R: How does your Bipolar interfere with a normal day?
K: For me, anxiety is by far my nemesis and the thought processes that come along with it. I spend a lot of time working through my anxiety. For example: I have anxiety about going to the grocery store and when it’s really bad I have paranoia about people staring/following me. I’ve left entire grocery carts in the middle of the store because I thought people were following me. Some days I just don’t even leave my house. Large crowds really make me panic.
“Some days I don’t get anything done. Decision making is also extremely hard for me – like choosing what to wear for the day can send me into panic mode.”
My thoughts get very crowded or race so focusing on tasks or writing can be very difficult or next to impossible. Some days I don’t get anything done. Decision making is also extremely hard for me – like choosing what to wear for the day can send me into panic mode.
In the fall, I am typically in a depressive state. I don’t do anything at all. I have no motivation for showers, for eating, and all I want to do is cry and sleep. It’s really awful.
R: Does it affect relationships with people around you?
K: My husband has been on the front lines since day one. He never blames me for my illness or forces me to ‘snap out of it’. I love him so much for all that he does.
“My friends on the other hand *looks around the empty room*.
My friends were there in the beginning when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they sort of vanished one by one.”
My friends on the other hand *looks around the empty room*.
My friends were there in the beginning when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they sort of vanished one by one. Actually, they would disappear in the fall when I was horrendously depressed but then would reappear when I was hypomanic in the early spring. Because I was fun again! I decided that I didn’t want to have part time friends so I started to push them away in the spring when they came back. I wanted people who were going to be there for me all the time and love me for all the parts of who I was.
I do have friends but they aren’t as close like the ones I had. I am still too afraid to divulge my illness to them.
Did you call me crazy?
— Kimberly M (@momgosomething) March 30, 2016
R: Do you think your life would be different without Bipolar?
“I’ve seen the world in both dark and light and there is beauty to be found there.”
R: Have you found any positive aspects of Bipolar?
K: For sure. I see the world differently and I wish that I could explain that better. Like I’ve seen the world in both dark and light and there is beauty to be found there. I pay more attention to the little things that make up life worth living because sometimes my soul is starved of them. I need to remind myself why I need to be here, why life is so precious.
Life truly is precious.
R: If you had the option to lose your bipolar, would you?
K: Yes. I don’t want it.
R: And you also had Postpartum Depression?
R: When did it begin/end?What was the process of diagnosis? Did you know what was happening? Did doctors figure it out straight away?
K: I knew almost right away after delivery that something was wrong with me. I didn’t bond with my son and I was feeling a lot of anxiety and anger. I had never experienced anything like it before and I had no idea that postpartum depression could manifest in that way.
I was diagnosed at my 6 week postpartum check up by my OB/GYN. He knew right away that that is what I had.
R: How does PPD affect/interfere with life today?
K: The diagnosis of PPD was changed to bipolar disorder. PPD doesn’t affect me anymore per say however I still do relieve painful memories of the hospital around the time of my son’s birthday.
R: How do you best manage it?
K: My psychiatrist diagnosed me with PTSD. Every year around my son’s birthday we ramp up my appointments and we work through it.
R: Great title! What’s it all about?
K: All Work And No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something is my personal blog – a giant unfiltered mish mosh about my life living with bipolar and anxiety.
R: Why did you start it?
K: I initially started it because I needed an outlet for my feelings when I was dealing with postpartum depression.
“I get emails from moms battling postpartum depression and other women battling bipolar disorder who just want to say “thanks for writing’. It makes them feel less alone. Me too!”
R: Have you received a good response/feedback/comments?
K: I have! I have built a lot of friendships and a great community of moms and writers through my blog. Some of my best friends are the ones I’ve never met.
I get emails from moms battling postpartum depression and other women battling bipolar disorder who just want to say “thanks for writing’. It makes them feel less alone. Me too!
R: Have you been officially diagnosed by a health professional for Bipolar?
K: Yes. A psychiatrist.
R: Did they prescribe medication?
R: Do you / Did you take medication?
K: Yes I do take medication.
R: Have you seen a therapist?
K: No. Well, my psychiatrist kind of doubles as one. He spends a lot of time with me when I need it.
R: If so, did therapy help?
K: Talking does help.
R: How do you best manage Bipolar? (medication, meditation, yoga, alternative medicines, or something else)
K: I use medication, guided meditation, writing, gratitude journal, walking, sleep schedule, light therapy in the fall, massage and acupuncture, NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine), regular appointments with psychiatrist, ROUTINES!
R: Do you feel as if you’re in control of Bipolar now?
K: Well I feel more in control of it now than when I was first diagnosed. I find that this illness is a constant learning curve. I’m always learning what triggers what and what helps what and what is the latest thing that can help.
“Whatever your brain tells you, you’re going to be a good mom and you’re going to be just fine. Don’t stop fighting.”
R: If you could go back and give your younger self some advice about your mental health, what would you say?
K: Since I was fine as a younger lass, I’d go back to myself the day before I gave birth to my son – before postpartum depression set in – and I’d say “Whatever your brain tells you, you’re going to be a good mom and you’re going to be just fine. Don’t stop fighting.”
R: What would you do differently?
K: I don’t think I could do have done anything differently. Even though I was sick, I got one helluva adorable son. I would go through postpartum depression again for him. He’s the best thing to ever happen in my life.
R: How do you educate yourself on management and resources? Do you read specific blogs, magazines or news articles?
R: Have you read any great books about Bipolar? Or seen any movies?
K: The book I’m in – Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor
The Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamieson is my favourite.
Madness by Marya Hornbacher
Manic Terri Cheney
It’s Kind Of A Funny Story
R: Can you recommend any therapists / doctors / specialists / coaches / mentors / clinics / foundations?
I am supposed to be a lego ninjago character…I look like a hooker with liver disease. Parent win. pic.twitter.com/7KVyoseFwR
— Kimberly M (@momgosomething) October 31, 2013
R: What’s on your horizon for 2016?
K: I’ve just submitted my first piece to an anthology in well over 2 years. I’m hoping that I can do more writing like that from here on out. I miss it.
R: What next for Bipolar? And PPD?
K: Well hopefully I keep kicking it in the ass.
R: Any thing else you’d like to add?
K: If you are diagnosed with bipolar or anxiety or any mental illness, just know that you are not alone. There is a world out there who wants to help you. Please reach your hand out and ask for help. They will pull you out.
You are beautiful and loved just the way you are.
This world needs your shine.
R: Nice one. Thanks Kimberly.
Rodger Hoefel in conversation with Kimberly
Cover Photo and other images from Kimberly’s social media profiles