Meet Elaina J 2005. I was settling into a life I had always wanted. I was finally writing fashion features, not just helping with styling (which, I of course loved).  My co-workers were super friendly and we all sat in one big room – no cubicles there. I always swore a cubicle would suck my life away. My apartment was big with French doors and balconies.

I was a bit of a socialite, mainly because of my job. I attended art balls and gallery exhibits. I showed my face at restaurant openings and had front row seats at the fashion shows and was schmoozed by store owners. I also led an active personal social life. I had a few close friends and when my bestie from high school came to camp on my couch and eventually got a place of her own – heaven. I spent nights out sipping cocktails, dancing, listening to new bands. I kissed some musicians. I dated an architect. Life was pretty damn good.

And then. It wasn’t anymore.

I began getting harassed by an abusive ex-boyfriend who did not even live in my city. That is when my anxiety disorder truly started to kick-in. I couldn’t walk to the back of the grocery for fear he was around the aisle. I’d lock myself in bar bathroom crying and shaking because it was dark outside the bathroom and what if he was out there? What if? Soon agoraphobia set in and I could barely leave my place. I would get read ready to go out and meet my friends, get down the stairs, walk halfway to my car – then turn around.

Things were getting to stressful so I quit my  editor job at the magazine for a job at a gym handing out towels. Proud college grad with an honors degree handing out towels for people to sweat on. But I HAD to make that change life was getting to be too overwhelming.

I think it was OCD that came next, or maybe it was self-harm, they seemed to happen at the same time. I don’t want to trigger anyone but I began to self-harm in a way that required stitches.

That is when I left my perfect life. I moved back in with my parents. OCD took hold in a bad way – numbers, hand washing, germs, etc. I thought I got better and moved out to California to be a Style Editor.

A week later, I tried to kill myself. The following week I was diagnosed Bipolar 1.

It’s amazing what this illness can do to a person, how it can change a life. I am not the woman I was in 2006 and may never be again, but I will not let this illness define me It will not win. I will fight for a beautiful life.

 

 

Photo by billsoPHOTO