Mastery Level, Transformational Health and Wellness Coach
Living with bipolar 1 disorder

After being diagnosed first with depression and then with bipolar I disorder, Stacy found stability through a practiced combination of diet, exercise, medication, and sleep habits. Today, as a health coach, she shares with others what she learned on her own journey.

Stacy’s Story

How has your condition impacted your life?

In 2008, I was diagnosed with severe depression with psychotic episodes.  After being hospitalized for stabilization, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 by two psychiatrists.  At the time, I was the owner and director of a home-based business, I had no prior history of a mental health condition, and I wasn’t aware of any family history.  Acceptance came easy for me because I knew it was a health condition I could learn to manage with the right supports. I just had to weather the storm. 

For me, bipolar impacts my life when I experience significant stress, long winters and/or change, resulting in manic episodes followed by severe depression.  Each event takes a full year to recover to baseline, and sometimes hospitalization initially for stabilization. 

The most difficult experience I have had was being fired from a new job after telling my boss that I was living with bipolar.  This would cost me 2 ½ years of my life, and I was one of the lucky ones. 

What is your life like now? What does success/living well look like for you?

For me, learning to manage my mental and physical wellbeing has led me to a new purpose and passion in life.  I am a Certified Health Coach with lived experience, and I am a Mental Health Advocate – TSN Stability Leader, aspiring speaker, and Board Member for NAMI VT.

Living well to me looks like:  a strong support team, healthy relationship with food, movement/self-care, personal and professional development, spending time with family.

Who in your life or what specific strategies helped you to get well and move to stability?    

When I was first diagnosed with a mental health condition, my husband Christopher, my parents, a mental health counselor, my psychiatrist, my employee, and the hospital became my support system.  This created a safe container that allowed me to heal, and start to learn how to manage my condition. 

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy on an ongoing basis?

On an ongoing basis, I schedule and keep all medical appointments, I workout with a personal trainer, hike, walk, mountain bike, follow a 80/20 healthy eating model – follow functional medicine doctors, continue my education, go on a pre-planned yearly vacation in February, volunteer, stay connected to like-minded people, spend time with family, create clear boundaries, monitor my mood, and make sure I am not sleeping too much.

Are there positives that have come from having a mental health condition?  If so, what?

Yes, I have a new career as a Health Coach and aspiring speaker.  This not only helps others, but it allows me to continuously learn how to take care of myself.  I am a Mental Health Advocate; I seek to speak for all of those who cannot speak for themselves.  I have been given an opportunity to join a powerful group of individuals and companies collectively gathering their energy to change the culture of mental health.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?

Every challenge we face in life is unique to our own set of circumstances, but here is what I do know.  Mental health conditions are treatable, and you can live successfully with the right treatment, at the right time, in the right place.  It starts with reaching out.  Tell someone. 

Reach out to your local NAMI (national alliance on mental illness) It’s free and confidential.  Look at the resources on this website.

What motivated you to join The Stability Network?

I was motivated to reach out to the Stability Network after reading Katherine’s Switz’s, Founder of The Stability Network, article in the BP Hope Magazine.  I was encouraged to find a group of professionals who were speaking out against the stigma of mental health.

Are there resources that helped and/or inspired you that you would recommend to others?

Magazines: BP Hope, Experience Life, Thrive, Mantra Wellness, Mindfulness

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