My darkest bipolar episode. And Music (by Sarah Jickling)

My darkest bipolar episode. And a music video

At sixteen, my best friend and I started a band. We were two quiet, nerdy, never been kissed teenagers who wanted desperately to have an adventure. Though we technically lived in the retirement town of White Rock, British Columbia, we spent most of our time in our own worlda world that from an outsiders point of view could only be described as very cute

So it only made sense that our band sang songs about liking boys and being nerds, and our logo was a hand drawn cupcake. That band became my persona. I was Sarah from The Oh Wells, and I was cute, cute, very cute. Sure, Id been having panic attacks and insomnia since I was four years old, but even my anxiety came off as endearing. 

The year I turned twenty, my band competed in a prestigious music competition. The other musicians all saw me as the shy, quirky, adorable one. Nobody knew that I had been fighting uncontrollable mood swings and suicidal thoughts for the past year and a half, that my behaviour had pushed away my band mates and my best friend, and that I had never felt more alone in my life. 

I so badly wanted to be the happy girl baking cupcakes that was on my album cover. She was still a part of me, but the other part of me was crying for help, and I was ignoring her. I tried every natural remedy, therapist, diet, and eastern religion that I came across, but that other part of me would never leave me alone for good. She would pop up just when things were getting good, and leave me rocking back and forth in my room.

Finally, I stepped away from the band and faced my mental illness. I accepted my diagnosis of Bipolar Type 2, and I started the horrible trial-and-error of finding the right medication. As each drug failed to control my symptoms or presented even worse side effects, I often felt like giving up. My suicidal thoughts became the loudest thoughts in my head. I experimented with overdosing on a daily basis. 

One day, I told one of my closest friends how many pills I had taken. It was more than ever before. She called 911 and as I drifted into a pill-fuelled daze, I heard police officers at my door. I now know, after a few of these types of incidents, that if a police officer shows up at your door, you should just do what they say. But at this point, I was terrified. They chased me as I tried to run away, screaming, and took me to emergency.

Hours later, I shuffled to the bathroom, sedated and numb. As I was washing my hands, I was struck by my reflection in the mirror. I couldnt recognize the girl looking back at me. She was in a skimpy hospital gown, greasy hair standing almost on end, cheeks raw from crying and lips grey from dehydration. I looked like a stereotypical crazy person, like something out of a movie. I had never looked less cute in my life. Back at my hospital bed, my friend was waiting for me, desperately asking the nurses to bring me a sandwich. Its important for me to say: I wasnt cute, but I wasnt alone either.

Im twenty-five now. That wasnt my last hospital visit, but it was the last time that I was startled by my own darkness. Now I embrace every part of me (or try to). Ive repaired lost friendships, rekindled relationships torn apart by my unpredictability, and only a month and a half ago I finally found a cocktail of medications that keep me stable and safe. Ive starting playing music again, and this time I write about the darkest parts of my life and hold nothing back. But the truth is I still have that part of me that loves paper hearts and the sound of the marimba.

I recently created a music video for my new song Valentine,a love letter I wrote to those who stood by my side through the ups and downs. In the video, I wanted to compare that cute girl who started a band when she was sixteen with the girl I saw in the mirror at the hospital, and I wanted to show everyone that they are both ME. I am a musician in her mid-twenties who lives with bipolar disorder. Sometimes I feel empty and sometimes I feel full of joy. This music video shows the extreme opposites of bipolar, and the importance of accepting the dark along with the light.

Valentine (Official Video) – Sarah Jickling and her Good Bad Luck


About the Author: Sarah Jickling

photo_sarahjickling_bethanymenzelSarah Jickling is a Canadian songstress and mental health advocate. Over the past few years, Jickling’s whimsical indie-pop songs have been featured on radio stations across the country and in independent films. The twenty-five year old uses her music to spread mental health awareness, and has opened up about her experiences with Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety Disorder on radio, local television, podcasts, blogs and at live speaking events. Her new album, When I Get Better, is set to be released in 2017. She can be found in hospital waiting rooms and pole dancing studios around Vancouver, BC.

 

[irp posts=”2156″ name=”Bipolar Disorder – Important New Insights”]

[irp posts=”2049″ name=”Dealing with Depression: 14 NEW Insights That Will Change the Way You Think About It”]

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Today was an ending and a beginning. My darling girl finished year 12. The final year at school is tough enough, but this year was seismic. Our teens have moved through this year with the most outstanding courage and grace and strength, and now it is time for them to rest and play. My gosh they deserve it. 

It is true that this is a time of celebration, but it can also be an intense time of self-reflection for our teens. (I can remember the same feelings when my gorgeous boy finished so many years ago!) My daughter has described it as, ‘I feel as though I’ve outgrown myself but my new self isn’t ready yet.’ This just makes so much sense. 

There is a beautifully fertile void that is waiting for whatever comes next for each of them, but that void is still a void. At different times it might feel exciting, overwhelming, or brutal in its emptiness.

We also have to remember that this is a time of letting go, and there might be grief that comes with that. Before they can grab on to their next big adventure, they have to let go of the guard rails. This means gently adjusting their hold on the world they have known for the last 12+ years, with its places and routines and people that have felt like home on so many days. There will be redirects and shiftings, and through it all the things that need to stay will stay, and the things that need to adjust will adjust. 

To my darling girl, your loved incredible friends, and the teens who make our world what it is - you are the beautiful  thinkers, the big feelers, the creators, the change makers, and the ones who will craft and grow a better world. However you might feel now, the lights are waiting to shine for you and because of you. The world beyond school is opening its arms to you. That opening might happen quickly, or gently, or smoothly or chaotically, but it will happen. This world needs every one of you - your voices, your spirits, your fire, your softness, your strength and your power. You are world-ready, and we are so glad you are here xxx
When our kids or teens are in high emotion, their words might sound anxious, angry, inconsolable, jealous, defiant. As messy as the words might be, they have a good reason for being there. Big feelings surge as a way to influence the environment to meet a need. Of course, sometimes the fallout from this can be nuclear.
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Wherever there is a big emotion, there will always be an important need behind it - safety, comfort, attention, food, rest, connection. The need will always be valid, even if the way they’re going about meeting it is a little rough. As with so many difficult parenting moments, there will be gold in the middle of the mess if we know where to look. 
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There will be times for shaping the behaviour into a healthier response, but in the middle of a big feeling is not one of those times. Big feelings are NOT a sign of dysfunction, bad kids or bad parenting. They are a part of being human, and they bring rich opportunities for wisdom, learning and growth. .
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Parenting isn’t about stopping the emotional storms, but about moving through the storm and reaching the other side in a way that preserves the opportunity for our kids and teens to learn and grow from the experience - and they will always learn best from experience. 
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To calm a big feeling, name what you see, ‘I can see you’re disappointed. I know how much you wanted that’, or, ‘I can see this feels big for you,’ or, ‘You’re angry at me about .. aren’t you. I understand that. I would be mad too if I had to […],’ or ‘It sounds like today has been a really hard day.’ 
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When we connect with the emotion, we help soothe the nervous system. The emotion has done its job, found support, and can start to ease. 
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When they ‘let go’ they’re letting us in on their deepest and most honest emotional selves. We don’t need to change that. What we need to do is meet them where they and gently guide them from there. When they feel seen and understood, their trust in us and their connection to us will deepen, opening the way for our influence.
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When they are at that line, deciding whether to retreat to safety or move forward into brave, there will be a part of them that will know they have what it takes to be brave. It might be pale, or quiet, or a little tumbled by the noise from anxiety, but it will be there. And it will be magical. Our job as their flight crew is to clear the way for this magical part of them to rise. ‘I can see this feels scary for you - and I know you can do this.’ 
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 #mindfulparenting #neuronurtured #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #braindevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #childdevelopment #parentingtip #adolescence #positiveparentingtips #anxietyawareness #anxietyinchildren #childanxiety #parentingadvice #anxiety #parentingtips #motherhoodcommunity #anxietysupport #mentalhealth #heyawesome #heysigmund #heywarrior
When our kids or teens are struggling, it can be hard to know what they need. It can also be hard for them to say. It can be this way for all of us - we don't always know what we need from the people around us. It might be space, or distraction, or silence, or maybe acknowledging and being there is enough. Sometimes we might need to know that the people we love aren't taking our need for space, or our confusion or anger or sadness personally, and that they are still there within reach.
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What can be easier is thinking about what other people might need. Asking this when they are calm can invite a different perspective and can give you some insight into what they need to hear when they are going through similar. Don't worry if you just get a shrug, or a disheartened, 'I don't know'. They don't need to know, and neither do we. The question in itself might be enough to open a new way through any sense of 'stuckness' or helplessness they might be feeling.
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Give them space to talk but you don’t need to fix anything. You’ll want to, but the answers are in them, not us. Sometimes the answer will be to feel it out, or push for change, or feel the futility of it all so the feeling can let go, knowing it’s done it’s job - it’s recruited support, or raised awareness that something isn’t right.

Sometimes the feelings might be seismic but the words might be gone for a while. That’s okay too. Do they want to start with whatever words are there? Or talk about something else? Or go for a walk with you? Watch a movie with you? Or do a spontaneous, unnecessary drive thru with you just because you can - no words, no need to explain - just you and them and car music for the next 20 minutes. 

The more you can validate what they’re feeling (maybe, ‘Today was big for you wasn’t it’) and give them space to feel, the more they can feel the feeling, understand the need that’s fuelling it, and experiment with ways to deal with it. Sometimes, ‘dealing with it’ might mean acknowledging that there is something that feels big or important and a little out of reach right now, and feeling the fullness and futility of that. 

Part of building resilience is recognising that some days are rubbish, and that sometimes those days last for longer than they should, but we get through. First we feel floored, then we feel stuck, then we shift because the only choices we have we have are to stay down or move, even when moving hurts. Then, eventually we adjust - either ourselves, the problem, or to a new ‘is’. But the learning comes from experience.

I wish our kids never felt pain, but we don’t get to decide that. We don’t get to decide how our children grow, but we do get to decide how much space and support we give them for this growth. We can love them through it but we can’t love them out of it. I wish we could but we can’t.

So instead of feeling the need to silence their pain, make space for it. In the end we have no choice. Sometimes all the love in the world won’t be enough to put the wrong things right, but it can help them feel held while they move through the pain enough to find their out breath, and the strength that comes with that.♥️

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