Hello. My name is Christine and I am mentally ill.

I have depression, a form of bipolar called hypomania and I am a recovering alcoholic with 10 years of sobriety.   I am also an investigative reporter, a single-mother, dog-owner and coupon clipper. I have a mortgage, a teenage daughter, a job, credit cards, a gym membership and a load of laundry that needs to be folded.

I am 50 years old and I prefer to call my gray hair “silver.” I worry about my 401K and whether my daughter might inherit these illnesses. I take medications. I see a therapist. I pray.  In many ways we are very much alike.

Three years ago I was diagnosed with depression. A year later came the hypomania diagnosis. Since then I have chosen to manage my illnesses, learn as much as I can and share my experience in a weekly column I write for The Palm Beach Post called “Kicking Depression.”

I have been a journalist for 30 years. Twelve of those years in I spent covering the criminal courts. It was there I first learned about mental illness and the wake of devastation it leaves behind when left untreated. I watched a Vietnam Veteran with severe Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder die in the electric chair after his PTSD defense failed. I listened to the delusions of a grandmother who killed a co-worker because she thought the woman had stolen the $1 million check that John F. Kennedy has given her to solve the Cuban Missile Crisis. Day after day I watched the blank faces of victims and listened to their depression speak. Lives gutted by mental illness.

I never imagined I would be touched by these same illnesses. And I never dreamed my life could be so good, so stable and so balanced with the help of medications, a good therapist, an understanding boss and devoted friends.

While I believe in knowledge, medication, therapy and a higher power, I also believe in the power of one person sharing his or her experience, strength and hope with another. That is the purpose of this blog: to learn, share, debate, encourage and de-stigmatize mental illness. Let’s get started…