Personal Stories: Andrienne’s #BestLife

“You Can Live Your Best Life Despite A Mental Illness”

Andrienne Kennedy

Andrienne Kennedy

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder about 4 years ago. When I was first diagnosed I thought that my life was over. This was because I was once a person who had a preconceived idea of what a “crazy” person looked like. I admit, I was a part of the problem. But receiving the diagnosis legitimized the fact that I, in fact, was a “crazy” person. I was in denial for years because of the lack of information, and the rampant stigma and stereotypes about mental illness and what that was supposed to look like. By admitting that I was sick, and that I had a mental illness, I somehow felt that this illness would define me and diminish all my accomplishments.

The denial lasted for about a year or so. During that time, I would go to therapy, take my meds, and then stop once I started feeling better. My relationships around me suffered and my relationship with myself also suffered. I behaved badly because of my illness. I had hurt some people and even hurt myself. Last year, 2017 was the beginning of the journey. That was when I decided to really take my mental health seriously. April 1, 2017 is a date that I will never forget. That was the date of my 1st session with my therapist. It changed my life. I have been on my journey of recovery, self-discovery, and contentment and have not looked back. Of course, there are days when I am down, and not feeling well. That comes with the territory, but I am now better equipped to handle those situations and not fall into a black hole that I cannot come out of.

I can honestly say that bipolar disorder, for me, has been one of the greatest teachers I could ever have. I have discovered so much about myself in the last year and I am grateful to have gotten to know myself the way that I have. I am proof that you can not only survive, but you can thrive despite a mental illness.

Thank you for sharing your story, Andrienne! Be sure to check out her Beautiful Brain Collective project!