My name is Julie Whitehead. To look at me, I’m no different than any other Southern girl you’d encounter in the small Mississippi city of Brandon—I’m five-foot-four with dark brown hair down to my shoulders and hooded brown eyes, wearing brightly –colored clothes from Belk’s Department Store and shoes by Naturalizer. I carry a red Nicole Miller purse and have a weakness for anything made out of chocolate. Unless you were around me long enough, you’d never know that nine years ago I had a psychotic break after the birth of my third child and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder—a disorder of moods where you swing from one extreme (mania) to another (depression)
I’ve been hospitalized for it six times for episodes of various degrees and take five psychotropic medications every day, some of them twice a day. I’m on Social Security disability; I lost my career as a freelance news writer because I could no longer interact with people normally nor could I face the pressures of daily deadlines.
I don’t say any of this to make people feel sorry for me. But it’s essential that I remember where I’ve been so I can appreciate the fact that no, I did not kill myself when I desperately wanted to and no, I haven’t done anything that couldn’t be undone and no, I do not have to deal any memories of dangerous behavior such as drug or alcohol abuse and all the other associated conditions that often accompany this diagnosis.
I’m living proof that a bipolar life does not have to mean craziness on one end and enervation on the other. Let me give some insight on my bipolar life, especially as I take it day by day.