Life has been pretty swell lately, but it still comes with its stalls and struggles. I was feeling so depressed that I took the vital step to take up exercising. SQUASH to be exact! Besides the pain in my middle knuckle from failing to hold the racket properly, it has been quite the experience. The 'Victoria Squash Club' is owned by a great guy named Stuart and this place has amazing energy, mainly due to Stuart, staff, and their smiling faces. He sometimes offers newbies free lessons to see if they like the sport before committing to anything…quite swell! The one odd thing about me is that due to a combination of an essential tremor in my right hand and my lithium intake, I shake like a leaf! I also have social anxiety, which causes me to shake in new social situations, not all the time, but often, sooooooooooo…for my first lesson I resembled a leaf in the Autumn wind! My hands were shaking and I could tell it made Stuart a little nervous as he had never dealt with a situation like this before. Instead of questioning my bodily reactions to the medication, he just took it in stride and taught me like anybody else, so I openly told him the story about the tremor, lithium, and the illness. He wasn't too surprised as I wore a 'Bipolar Babe' t-shirt to my first practice, but I could tell he was a bit nervous as he guided my swing, I could barely hold the racket up without having it shake vigorously, but thanks to Stuart I was comfortable to continue.
My experience at the club extended into meeting a new friend who rallied with me and the first time we sparred I could hardly hit the ball. She was patient to say the least. We burst into conversation 'post-whip Andrea's butt rally' and we shared what we do. I told her about Bipolar Babe and how my passion is sharing my story with the world which catalysts into mental health education. Why do I do what I do? I told her that I believe we need to ignite mental health education in the world through having conversations free of stigma and sharing personal stories of inspiration. Her reaction was amazing! She talked about the importance of such an initiative and I was impressed by her receptiveness and openness. I notice that the more that I share, the more others open up and start telling stories about themselves or their loved ones who have a mental illness. Even after all this time, sometimes there is a small surge in me when I share about having bipolar, but usually I feel clear and open. I share my story of living with bipolar, to bring to light what it is like for others who live with such a disorder and I do so to create an empathetic, understanding and awesome world for people to live in. Thanks for doing your part and creating that world with me!