Kelly Aiello joins me for a chat about these very topics; living with Bipolar Disorder, being a Mental Health advocate, and the importance of "telling it like it is" when it comes to living with mental illness.
Kelly is a contributor for The Mighty as well as blogger, student, wife, artist and activist. She writes primarily about mental health issues and has currently returned to school to study neuropsychology. She has bipolar type I disorder and borderline personality disorder, and lives with her husband and way too many cats in Toronto, Canada. You can learn more about her by visiting KellyJAiello.ca , including her upcoming novel and maybe send her a message and find out just how many cats she has :)
I originally connected with Kelly on a roundtable discussion coordinated by our mutual friend, author, and advocate Rebecca Lombardo. After that talk, I knew that I wanted to bring her onto the Beyond Your Past Podcast, to learn more about her life and advocacy work.
Kelly shares openly about her life and struggles with Bipolar Disorder, and paints the picture in a very real, authentic way. She talks about the particular spectrum, or level, that she lives with and also the difficulty that she experienced in finally getting the proper diagnosis.
We also discuss, is that not every person fits nice and neatly into one of the 4 defined categories. Therein lies the struggle, even with someone who is knowledgeable, in getting the proper diagnosis. Similarly to Dissociation, you don't always have the symptoms of just 1 particular type of Bipolar Disorder. As Kelly shares, it can take years to get the right treatment plan in place; and that's an incredible struggle for the person going through it and for those that help support them in their healing journey.
We also talk about her work in advocacy and the importance of sharing what really happens in daily life. Living with a mental illness has become quite a mainstream topic these days, which is good in some ways and not so good in others. The awareness is always a good thing; I think most of us would agree that anything that helps destigmatize mental health challenges is a positive.
One of the problems is though that you can't always put a positive spin on it; which is what some of the advocacy groups that Kelly has tried to work with, attempt to do. The tough days when you struggle to get out of bed, to get a shower, and go to work when you'd rather just stay in bed or curl up in a ball in the corner of your room waiting for the emotional struggle of a trigger to pass. Being a survivor of trauma and living with Bipolar or any other mental illness isn't about something positive all the time..it's many times just about just trying to make it through the day.
When you share in this real and vulnerable way, you reach an audience that would otherwise feel like they are completely alone.
Kelly also shares some tips and insight on what she's learned in the areas of self-care, which also equates to self-love, as you'll hear her explain. She talks about the importance of setting up a schedule in advance, that you can refer too on a day that you struggle, so you're prepared ahead of time and have a plan in place to take care of yourself and celebrate each win that day.
Be sure and check out BeyondYourPast.com for more information about Anxiety and Survivor Coaching, as well as more podcasts and blog posts.
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Matthew Pappas, CLC - BeyondYourPast.com