My love languages are Gifts & Acts of Service. If you ask my friends, they will tell you that I would do anything or give anything without wanting in return. That’s what Gary Chapman says in his book, “The Five Love Languages.” People don’t just want to get love shown to them in these languages, this is how they show their love as well. My “Act of Service” to the mental health community is managing an Instagram account @livingthisbipilarlife to show people with a mental illness that a “normal” life is possible & to show everyone else that it’s not all psych wards & straight jackets. Because let’s face it, if you tell someone you live with a mental illness, that’s what they think of. I did. When I was first told at 19 that I had Manic Depressive Disorder, I about all but laughed at the therapist. I started my denial process. There was no way I was going to have Nurse Ratchet take care of me in a mental hospital. I’d try little remedies here & there for my depression. Some worked, some didn’t. All while my life slowly deteriorated. Most of my good times, I was hypomanic & my bad came with no support because I hid in the shadows & put on a happy face. One thing about mental illness is you can try to ignore it but it will be heard & it will be seen. Finally, after 9 years I was hit with the diagnosis again. This time, it came from my trusted Physician. He started me on a medication regimen & referred me to the psychiatrist I still see today. I would love to say it got better, but it didn’t right away. I was in & out of episodes, trying to be a good mom, a good wife, & a good employee. The first half of my thirties was me struggling to find balance after my marriage ended & I quit work. I thought I was alone. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I felt the courage to speak out. He wasn’t ashamed of me so what did I have to lose. Now, I’m 40. I still struggle, unfortunately that comes with the illness. But I found my balance. For the last 3 years, I have spoken up & put myself out there. Friends of my kids talk to me & friends refer their friends to me. I share my experience (because I’m not a medical professional, that’s all I got!) I share what I know and articles I find. Sometimes it’s boring & sometimes it’s fun. That is pretty much what life is. Above everything, else, I share my love. Isn’t love all you need?