I’m Adrianne. I share what it is like to live day to day with bipolar disorder. I hope to dismantle the stigma attached to bipolar disorder and mental illnesses in general. I feel compelled to share my story with others so that my path may later be a map for someone else to know they are not travelling the road alone.
Deciding to make a public Instagram about my struggles and daily life with bipolar disorder was definitely a scary leap. I decided to do it anyway because I didn’t like walking through my life with, what felt like, this big secret. I brought an elephant into the room with me everywhere I went. Making the decision to come out, live freely and openly as a bipolar person, and to share my story widely with others was one of the most liberating choices I have ever made.
To be honest, the journey hasn’t been easy.
On my 30th birthday I got fired from a job I thought I really wanted. I was in one of the lowest and longest bipolar episodes I had ever been in my life. In the moment, I felt crushed. Getting let go felt like this final blow that was going to push me over the edge. How could I possibly take anymore? Two years later, it ended up being one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Someone else made a difficult decision for me that I wouldn’t have been able to make myself.
I think back on my life and the things I have struggled with and overcome and continue to work through and I wonder why I never gave up. There were times in my life where giving up was absolutely the easier path. Some things I have overcome, in those moments, have seemed absolutely insurmountable. But I just kept going for whatever reason. I think my competitive nature kept pushing me forward, telling me that there has to be a victory somewhere down this road and if I just keep going I’ll eventually get there.
I don’t always lose hope, sometimes I lose confidence.
I have always had the outward appearance of confidence, yes. I am sure, to others, I always looked (and continue to look) confident in whatever I was doing. But that’s the irony of deep seated insecurity, sometimes it can manifest as arrogance. In all those moments when I appeared cool and collected, I was actually terrified. Terrified of doing it wrong. Or what others thought of me. I was totally faking it.
It is only recently that I have finally begun to uncover the true feeling of confidence in knowing that I am who I am, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
Before therapy, doubt or criticism from others would absolutely crush me and then become part of my own internal narrative. The opinions of others would guide my decisions, thoughts, and feelings. Ultimately, they were determining how I felt about myself. The liberating thing about therapy is learning that other people’s behavior is a reflection of them and their trauma. Once I was able to reframe doubt and criticism in that way, I was able to begin developing my own feelings about myself – the way I actually felt, not the way others were telling me to be.
I’ve learned a lot along the way.
I’ve learned to just keep swimming. No matter what. Just keep going. Even if it’s tiny baby steps. Even if it means your major accomplishment for the day was getting out of bed and showering. Just keep going.
I’ve learned to take up space. Be loud. Say no, loudly. Say yes, enthusiastically (and only if I really mean it).
I’ve learned to support all women and their experiences. Share my story. Speak my shame. Own who I am because I am a badass.
I’ve learned to LIVE — because for many, many years of my life, I wasn’t.
Adrianne Moe is a mental health advocate, teacher, writer, lover of all animal friends, and creator of My Bipolar Life. She advocates for radical honesty and storytelling in order to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental illness. She also fiercely believes that women and girls can change the world.