Written by Karen Rose Kobylka on January 2021
A sip of red wine and my mood suddenly shifts. I feel like I have this thing called life covered. It’s a complicated story but let me start with this: I have a mental illness called bipolar disorder. It has been a long three years of recovery, and I am still suffering the repercussions of the shock waves. I was a powerhouse businesswoman running 16 beauty salons, and now I am on disability, working part-time at a local beauty salon. This change is all due to the disorder which conquered me. I started to get a pep in my step when covid-19 hit us like a storm. Before then, I would find solace in the local coffee shop I would walk to and I would write my story, in the hopes of one day being published. This coffee shop was my happy place when I wasn’t working. Now with covid, I find it difficult to survive because of the loneliness that consumes me. In the next moment, I feel like I feel accustomed to being alone. That is bipolar for me--the ups and downs of life, the bipolar opposites of emotions which I work through on a daily basis. In my life I struggle to breathe in what life has to offer. I have lost my motivation and enthusiasm for life. Mental illness is not something that simply goes away. It is an uphill struggle to get healthy. There is no perfect ending where we live happily ever after. To have a mental illness is to have an ongoing battle with life. Recovery is something that most people with a mental illness work towards but is sometimes unobtainable or at least it may seem that way. I feel like I am fighting for my life, struggling to leave the past behind me and to build a new life full of possibilities. The recovery process has been difficult. It has been a long road and sometimes I get tired of trying to survive. I find it difficult to have lost everything. Nonetheless I have had resources to help me along the way. I spent all my money when I was in severe mania so they put me on welfare and then I was upgraded to disability. Those are the perks when you are mentally ill—living below the poverty level, which makes it difficult. I was homeless when I was in the hospital and they threatened to discharge me to a homeless shelter. That was scary for me. I am what people might call a diva. Diva is a Latin word for goddess, a woman of “enormous talent”. That was me in my glory day. My psychiatrist states that I am grieving my old life, which is true. It is a process and it takes time to recover and heal.
I am blessed to have this psychiatrist help me on my healing journey. I hear stories in which the patient and doctor do not mesh well. I have nothing but great reviews to report with regards to my therapy. The journey of recovery is long, and one needs to hope for the best. There are good days and bad days and I hope that once we heal from covid-19 that I can start to get out more. Being social is a struggle due to the identity crisis that I am having. When I ran my beauty empire, I was indestructible and super confident. I felt like the world was my oyster. Then mental illness gripped me with its cryptic claws and changed me from being an extrovert into an introvert. I was once a very outgoing lady and now I am quiet and reserved and I struggle to make conversation with people because I have no idea what to say. My life is very small. Almost everyone has deserted me in the process of my bipolar journey.
Recovery for me has been extremely difficult. When I left the hospital over three years ago, I could not afford to eat as they gave you $740 on welfare for the month and rent and cell phone needed to come out of that. I was too stubborn to go to the food bank or maybe I was just too ashamed--either way it was terrible. The food the food bank gives you is canned and processed. Not good for a body. I was used to an income of $10,000 a month and that is something I grieve. I was accustomed to going to a naturopathic doctor for my needs and to the health food store for vitamins and food. Now I can barely afford meat. It is something that I am trying to get used to.
This is my recovery story, one of both hope and angst. In the midst of the recovery process from bipolar disorder I have gained over 50 pounds because I am depressed and I eat too many carbs. Sitting at home during covid did not help. I know I can go for walks, but my anxiety has gotten the best of me these days. I did not have anxiety before I was diagnosed with bipolar. I find it to be debilitating. Suicide is not really something I think about anymore. I tried it twice and both times I failed, and it was painful. I tell you about the suicide because that is a huge part of what I am recovering from. It is not just a sad story but a story of how I have overcome adversity. How is it that this is a story that ends happy? I continue to breathe. I continue to live and find my way piece by piece, brick by brick and put the broken pieces together again. That is recovery for me-- that is what it takes-a lot of determination, a lot of never giving up.
With every story there is a human being that lives and breathes and needs to be understood. I work every day at growing my soul to become great. I am working on publishing a memoir about my mental illness journey mixed with spiritual mediumship. I study the soul, mediumship, and spiritual life coaching part time so that I can help others to understand their own path in life. I want to help others grow on a deep soul level--it feeds my ambition. It also gives me hope for the future. I have hope that there is something more for me than what I have so far. I still believe in life and love, and that one day things will shift, and I will come out of recovery a brand-new woman. Maybe, just maybe, I needed to be broken down to start over again. That is what I am doing, starting over again at the age of 52.
* Since writing this article I have moved on to create another empire. This time it is with Spirit in mind. My Memoir