08 Jun The Gift of the Present
Being a pretty private person, outside of my basketball career, has always been my lifestyle. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone to get very candid about my personal life for the world to see in the documentary Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw. I was scared to be so open and honest with some of the choices I have made and sharing my struggle with mental health. The one thing that surprisingly gave me strength was talking about my Bipolar II diagnosis with students/students athletes. I have had some amazing opportunities to screen the film all over the country and share my story with those that come. It’s exciting and encouraging to hear that so many others can relate to my journey. I try to use that time to make people willing to share their own story feel heard and seen. It’s not about me, it’s about how the documentary made them feel or how it encouraged them. I usually feel energized and high off the positive vibes of a screening or event where I get to meet people and exchange our testimony on mental health issues. Then it’s back to reality. Not in a negative context, but just reality of the day to day living with Bipolar II. I feel like I don’t share the daily struggle. I don’t want people to think that I believe you just go to therapy and take magic pill and suddenly all your issues disappear. The truth for me is that I have to focus on my plan every day. I feel like my mind is always working and my mood shifts on some days, almost minute to minute. I’m not that bothered by my mind racing, I think it’s what keeps me busy and always engaged in learning or doing something. I am not such a fan of the constant mood swings at times or the overwhelming anxiety. I can honestly say that in my experience, my drug regimen, talking with a professional and with friends, and exercise is what makes me feel good. With my diagnosis came a heightened sense of awareness; when my mood is getting too manic or too low and how to balance it out and get back to feeling good. So, as much as I would like to say I have all of the answers, I have to deal with my mental health every single day. Just like anyone, some days are good and some are not so good, but I am becoming more educated and equipped to check in with myself and make the adjustments to get through the day. And I had to learn to be thankful for each day. A small feat to some a great accomplishment for myself. There are days I wish I didn’t have to be so aware of my mental state, but I am proud to see how far I have come and love to advocate to dispel the stigma of mental illness. No matter how I feel, I would not change anything. I am who I am because of what I have been through and how I choose to live in the moment and how that affects my future. The present is a gift that I’ve had to learn and continue to learn how to never take for granted.