Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Always Unstable: The Book, by Meghan Shultz

Always Unstable: Bipolar and Hospitalisation: A Memoir is a book that was a long time in the making, 26 years in fact. I started to write it after my second hospitalization within a year. I felt like I had a lot to share, a lot to own up to, and a story to tell that maybe others might find interesting or helpful. I was already running a blog but I wanted to do something more. I had a bigger story to tell, one that couldn’t be contained within a blog post and one that I didn’t want to draw out over a series.

The main focus of my book is my five hospitalisations over the last ten or eleven years. Psychiatric hospitalisations. Although I probably don’t need to clarify that. The first one was when I was 15, I had tried to kill myself, unsuccessfully much to my dismay. The second one didn’t come until ten years later, it was soon after I was told that I had Bipolar Disorder. I was hospitalised for a Bipolar mixed episode. Next was the mania and the eating disorder, then the electroconvulsive therapy and, probably not the last, the psychotic manic episode.

With this book I take you through all of those hospitalisations, what lead up to them, what happened while I was hospitalised and what happened afterwards. I’ve censored nothing. I talk truthfully about my experiences with a failed suicide attempt and self harm. I talk about losing a lot of my teenage years to addiction. I talk about spending hours hunched over a toilet when I struggled with an eating disorder. And I talk about my experiences with 15 rounds of ECT. Because why write if you’re not going to be honest? Why tell your story if you’re going to censor the parts that you’re ashamed of? And believe me, I’m ashamed of a lot. But it’s all in there.

I am so proud that I wrote and finished this book because I rarely see things though. That’s the bipolar in me I suspect. But this was different. I feel like writing is in my blood, coursing through my veins forever more alongside the Bipolar. Writing this book was very therapeutic for me too. I had a lot of shit to get off my chest, a lot of stuff to own up to and make peace with. There are also some people that deserve to know the truth and what I live with on a daily basis. Those people are my husband, my parents, and siblings, the ones that have lived with me for so long, the ones that have seen the true effects of my illness. I partly wrote this book for them.

What I really want out of having published this book is understanding, relating, and non-judgment. I want people that struggle and live with mental illnesses to know that they are not alone, they are not the only ones going through these troubled times. There are millions of us. Now, understanding. For people who don’t have a mental illness it can be really difficult to understand someone who is mentally ill. No matter how hard you try to understand it has to be something that you go through to make sense of it. But you can be there for them. You can offer a helping hand or someone to listen to or sit with them. You don’t have to fix us, just help us. And sometimes it’s just the little things that count. Example, my mother bought me a stuffed bear the other day, it brightened my day immediately. Non-judgment. Basically, don’t be an asshole. Don’t hear someone’s story and assume they’re a bad person. Example, when I was a teenager I was an addict. Am I a bad person? No. I have an illness which is prone to substance abuse and I was self-medicating. I was never a bad person.

So whether you’re mentally ill and can relate or whether you’re mentally well, I hope that everybody that reads this book can learn something and take something away from it.

 

About the Author

Follow Meghan on her website/blog, Twitter (@alwaysunstable), and Facebook (Always Unstable). Her book Always Unstable: Bipolar and Hospitalisation: A Memoir is available on Amazon.

 

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