When I was but a young bipolar blogger, I met a woman named Christina. Actually, I met a woman named ‘Bipolar Hot Mess.’ She was cool and fun and passionate and she made me feel like I could do anything. I read her blogs and she gave me some advice along the way and then, one day, she nominated me for an award. Specifically, the Psych Central Mental Health Hero Award. And then I won. (Christina was a mental health hero in 2013.)

The momentum from that award propelled me to new heights, gave me bursts of energy, and filled my entire being with confidence. I owe her a lot. She’s an awesome advocate and a better person. I’m excited to share blog space with her. Please welcome The Bipolar Hot Mess.

Meet The Bipolar Hot Mess, Christina Huff

I never expected life to do anything special for me, yet I seemed to accomplish far more than I had ever hoped. Most of the time it just happened to me without my ever seeking it.
-Audrey Hepburn

Well, Ms. Hepburn, you could not have described my own circumstances even better. When I graduated college in 2003 and set off into corporate America, I never thought I would be a mental health blogger and advocate, especially not one that has accomplished all that I have.

The Bipolar Hot Mess wearing Gabe Howard's official bipolar shirt and taking a selfie.

The Bipolar Hot Mess wearing Gabe Howard’s official bipolar shirt and taking a selfie.

After two hospitalizations in a psych facility in 2006, I was 26, and only knew about the mental health field from sporadic trips to college campus psychiatrists and movies like Girl Interrupted. My own experience was not like the movie, but was still a new world for my family and I, and so was the word “bipolar.”

Wanting to know all about this “bipolar” thing, I turned to the internet thinking it would have all the answers. I searched to find out why this happened, how to cure it, what the magic medicine is, how many other people had this, etc. My frustration level was growing quite high quickly because I was finding very little about bipolar, or “manic-depressive,” as it used to be called. There was just so little info because so many people were afraid to talk about it because of the stigma around it. That meant many people who did have it suffered in silence because if others found out, their lives could potentially be ruined; they could lose their jobs, families might leave them, etc.

I too began to see the negative impacts because of the label “bipolar,” and it was hurtful. How could I be lumped into one big group and have the same adjectives attached to me, regardless of their validity, just because I had the same diagnosis, “bipolar?

I wanted to change that.

I wanted to be a voice for those that couldn’t be one. I wanted to provide information about this illness first hand to show everyone that not ALL people diagnosed with bipolar are the same. I also hoped that people who had bipolar as well would be able to find this information about their illness to be able to educate themselves more, and perhaps share with their friends and family to help educate them as well.

While doing all my research, the one thing I couldn’t really find was a website or a place where someone was telling their story openly and had their inbox open to questions and would comment and answer questions sent their way. There were a couple of organizations that gave information on some support groups, but, again, (about 8-10 years ago) many people didn’t want to go sit in a public place to talk about their mental illness. A website or Facebook page was perfect because people could view what they wanted and still remain anonymous.

That was the beginning of Musings of the Bipolar Hot Mess.

The Bipolar Hot MessIt started out with me writing some random thoughts about how I was feeling that day and sharing the link on the Facebook page. I would share some informative articles I found online and some funny memes on the Facebook page to help educate but also try and get a few laughs as well. (Anyone who knows me, knows I like humor.) The website and Facebook page were not meant to be “information highway,” but were meant to have a personal feel. I wanted anyone who clicked on there to feel like they were my friend too and that they could relate to me.

My hope was that by sharing my story, feelings, and pieces of me, they would feel less alone in their own journey with their illness. And it didn’t have to be specific to bipolar either. I also had issues with eating disorders and anxiety, and so substance abuse, depression, self harm, and other mental health issues are also discussed because many people don’t always have bipolar alone. They may have other coexisting mental illnesses as well.

I started “Bipolar Hot Mess” because it was something that I would have found useful when I was diagnosed and it wasn’t there. I never imagined that my candidness would turn into anything close to what it has. While I no longer work in corporate America and am on disability because of my bipolar, I look at what “Bipolar Hot Mess” has become and I am still amazed everyday.

Many other people began opening up as well, some before, some about the same time, and started blogs and Facebook pages and the mental health field began to grow, and still continues to grow. It has been so amazing and inspiring to see each and every blogger achieve what they have achieved. Now, when you use “bipolar” as a search term, you get tons of results; from websites, blogs, social media accounts, to books, and articles.

Audrey Hepburn didn’t expect much, and look where she ended up. I never expected much when I posted those first few blog posts, but look where I ended up. I think it’s time for some more new voices over here in the mental health field. Just look where you can end up!

Christina Huff, aka The Bipolar Hot Mess, has been blogging about bipolar disorder and other mental health issues for several years now on her websites, Ask A Bipolar and Musings of a Bipolar Hot Mess. She has blogged for International Bipolar Foundation and was a Psych Central Mental Health Hero 2013. Christina is also a social media/marketing intern for Yale Productions upcoming film discussing mental health issues called “michigan”. She currently spends her time going between Chicago and San Diego. For more info, you can find the Facebook pages here for “Bipolar Hot Mess” and “Ask A Bipolar” and on Twitter @BipolarHotMess.

 

Gabe Howard is a professional speaker, writer, and advocate who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. He has made it his mission to change the way society reacts to mental illness. He is an award winning blogger and the creator of the official bipolar shirt. (Get yours now!) Interested in working with Gabe or learning more? He can be reached on Facebook, via email, or on his website, www.GabeHoward.com.  Don’t be shy — he’s not.