Audrey’s diagnosis with bipolar disorder allowed her to reevaluate her life and accomplish more.

I had all these interests. The joke is that I love buffets. I want the red cake and the lemon meringue, and the chocolate pie and all this. I just love it all. Life is a big buffet. And that was great, because we live in a society that validates that, that celebrates that. It was really menopause, I believe, that unhinged me. I had no executive function. I couldn’t control myself. I was impulsive in my behavior. I couldn’t stop saying things that I knew, perhaps, were inappropriate. Instead of always living up here, I had a drop and began to feel very anxious. And then, also, I was more fidgety. Felt that the ground–there was no solid ground under me, that it was just yanked out from under me.

Instead of something that you inside, internally, say, “Gee, I’m really contributing to the world. I’m all things to all people,” you realize you’re nothing to anybody, and you’re nothing to yourself. That’s part of what I began to feel very, very deeply. But I thought that I could deal with it myself through a combination of journaling and meditation and talking to my friends and going deep inside or going for long walks, or running, perhaps even a drink every night, or maybe two or three.

And then other people began to bring it to my attention. “What’s happening to you? You were always so optimistic.” It was my sister, when I was out visiting her at her ranch in Texas–after my trip there, she called me almost within a day or two, and said, “I insist that you get a psychiatric evaluation.”

My psychiatrist looked at me and said that she felt that all I had told her was very clear case of bipolar disorder. I burst into tears. And I finally, for the first time, felt heard. I see how much I have been blessed to accomplish and do in the year and change since I’ve been diagnosed and started medication. I just love to laugh, sing at the top of my lungs. The simple act of breathing. There is that sense of, well, shake it off, you can do it, step up, it’s just a matter of your willpower. It’s important to ask for help when you need it, rather than to think that you are a complete failure because you yourself were incapable of accomplishing great things.

I always was someone who saw the connection between people and, as a result of my mind being calmer, I can actually feel that on a deeper level, and that I can act on that in a more thoughtful and mindful way.

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