Jen. MF. Gotch.
My bipolar queen.
What I loved about Jen when I first started following her a few years back was her story of perseverance. The story of how she got to eventually find her calling in starting one of my favorite voices on the internet, Ban.do. I loved her transparency and communicated with her on Snapchat a couple of times... I was pumped she even knew I existed! Then she disappeared for a few months. Went through a divorce and came back broken.
The good kind of broken. The kind of broken that lets the light in. The kind of broken that lets the sun shine through. The kind of broken that is put back together with gold and is beautiful because of the cracks. The kind of broken I found fascinating and so do many others. She’s become a mental health advocate and I am in love. Her self care/mindfulness/empowerment platform comes with jewelry and a podcast that launches soon. The first 2 necklaces were Anxiety and Depression.
I think sometimes people use these words as a cop out, a “I can’t because anxiety.” “I can’t get out of bed today because depression.” Though that’s true, and I’ve been there. DON’T STAY THERE. To me, these necklaces are like a badge of honor. Hey, I’m here at work, at this party, at this place with all these people, eating dinner at a restaurant I’ve never been to by myself, shopping, workingout, living life... DESPITE my anxiety, despite my depression. I SHOWED UP. I’ll keep showing up.
These necklaces sell out fast so I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on one yet. But it’s ok because I knew what was coming. This next round of necklaces includes the one I’ve been waiting for, Bipolar. There will also be one that says 7.8.
7.8 is Jen’s magic number on her emotional rating system. When people learn of her ratings they assume 10 is the goal. That a 10 is where you want to be.
When she was young, she and her mom started a 1-10 rating system to help her communicate her emotions. 1 is extremely low- you know, for those times you wish you weren’t even alive. And 10 is full blown mania, feels like you’re on drugs and you will do anything and everything to keep it that way while sabotaging and risking all the good things in your life. So 10 is too high. 10 is definitely not the goal. She explains her rating system on her instagram highlights if you want to see. There's also a "Feel Better" section on Ban.do now.
Sometimes when I’m at my magic number, which I think is more of a flat 7. I get a, “you’re manic” from dear friends who mean well and just want to understand. It throws me for a loop because, though it shouldn’t, it does make me stop and think. Am I manic?
Why is my being happy a concern? Why is my being productive and having “good energy” something you question? How can I communicate the difference between good and good that is bad? Right now, no, I’m not manic. I’m feeling good, I’m in control, self aware, happy to be alive, moving along. People think mania is fun.... Like a high. But unlike at a 7 where when you’re friend says, “you’re manic.” and you reply, “no, I’m feeling good.” at a 10 the reply is more of a, “wtf? no I’m not, leave me alone, I don’t even know why we’re friends.” At a 10 for me I have tunnel vision. Everything is about me and how I can make myself feel good. By shopping, lashing out, being mean, inappropriate, procrastinating, and losing it on you if you change my plans, try to stand in my way, or if you don't react the way I want you to. It's a place of receiving. It's a place of filling. A place that you don't want to be because nothing satisfies and you just want anything that will make you feel normal. It's go, go, go. It does look like a high, it does look fun. But inside, it isn't.
I’ve shared about my mental health highs and lows here and have had friends come to me for advice or just to talk about their own struggles and victories. But then a few sessions ago I did a thing that to me felt normal. Before driving away, I sat in my car, opened up my fb app, and “checked in” to my therapist’s office with a quote of a funny exchange between us. One friend responded in person with a, “I would never be able to check in where I go! That’s bold.” But many more responded with, “can I get her contact info?”
I love Jen (as much as I love Beyoncé) because she's out there wearing the badge. The band. The name tag. She's learning to live and be empowered by her journey, by the things she's learning like I am.
The biggest thing I've learned so far is that there is one thing you must never let go of. Something you MUST practice daily. Wether you’re at a 3, a 7, or a 10 and whatever that looks like for you, the only thing you need to keep doing is being self aware and honest with what’s happening. Know that it’ll pass, know that letting whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe and well is ok. Let it be what you need (within reason of course) no matter if your mood, energy, being is questioned or not. This is YOUR journey, only you can know what’s going on. Therapy helps, yoga helps, good nutrition helps, but not without mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key.