FWB – The Business of Bipolar Disorder

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Hi, my name is Jessie and I’m bipolar.

True story.  I’m Type II with rapid cycling and hypomania.  I’ve been medicated for a little over a year now and let me tell you, medication and health insurance have saved my life.  I’ve spent the majority of my life in some depressive state.  I’ve avoided making friends, dealt with a rather extensive list of insecurities (beyond the ‘normal’ amount), ruined relationships, missed countless opportunities, and just existed for so long it’s an amazing change to be balanced out now.  I finally love life and appreciate the majority of my days (no one is perfect).  I still struggle with depression from time to time – even all the medication in the world can’t fix everything.  

Bipolar, in my own little explanation, is an instability in moods.  I can’t control my ups and downs which range from feeling on top of the world to contemplating what life would be like without me in it.  It’s serious business and not a fun thing to struggle with on a daily basis.  I firmly believe in chemical imbalances – I think that I was wired this way and I thank the heavens for medication that can help alleviate my most interruptive (I made up that word) symptoms.  I go through cycles of a couple months of normalcy, a couple weeks of hypomania (less intensive mania), and a couple weeks of depression – all interspersed at random intervals and timing.  Truly it’s really annoying and I feel like it hinders my success to a degree.

So what has this meant for my various business ventures?  I haven’t functioned steadily – with predictable moods – in quite some time.  I love the customer service aspect of my job most days; making people happy makes me happy in turn.  However, when I’m in a depressive mood it’s a huge burden to get up the strength (yes, it takes strength) to get my tone to the level that it is when I’m doing fine.  I turn into Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh – it’s just ridiculous.  Most of the time I’m super upbeat and positive almost to the point of annoying my friends but as soon as the depression kicks in I withdraw from everything I love and cower in my bed for a couple weeks.  I can’t concentrate at work, I’m nervous about everything, I doubt myself, I don’t see a point in doing anything and human interaction becomes a huge stressor.  When I’m in a hypomanic phase I’m writing and completing to-do lists, I’m emailing like a machine, I’m confident, I plan for a bright future and I’m overall a super happy person – it’s GREAT!  I wish I could be in that state all the time!  (Side note: full on mania is NOT a good thing, I’m not trying to make a case for it – I’m talking about my own personal version of hypomania.)  When I’m functioning normally it’s a nice balance of reality with a slightly elevated mood (I truly am a positive person at my core).

So there you have it.  It’s so weird to have something that you feel like you need to admit to other people.  I wish mental health issues didn’t have such a stigma to them in our society.  It’s like a diabetic dealing with their diabetes – I take care of myself, am knowledgeable about my condition, and I take my medication.  I don’t feel that I should be judged any differently from someone with a balanced brain chemistry – we’re all the same when it comes down to who we are as humans.

And that, my friends, is my personal explanation for the day.  I hope you can appreciate my openness and maybe go forward with a little more knowledge than before – the more you know and such.

FWB – My Humble Beginnings: Chapter Two

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Ahh. . . high school. . . the good old days.  Or were they?  I had a pretty pleasant high school experience but you won’t find me wishing I could go back.  So let’s paint a picture before I get started on my entrepreneur rambling. . .

Jessie in high school. . .  I hung out with the outcasts; the theater kids, the goth kids, the punk kids and the metal kids.  We had our own little group of multicolored hair and crazy-clothes-clad students (really, is pink hair and bondage pants that crazy?).  I wore Gwen Steffani makeup (remember the bindi and crazy eyebrow gems??), bondage pants, and enough safety pins to actually make me a safety hazard.  In short, I was freaking AWESOME.  I made all A’s and B’s and was a model student other than almost getting suspended for my fire engine red hair (that was a bunch of bull right there).  I was outgoing and liked to see my friend’s bands on the weekends.

My first venture into entrepreneurship in high school was by way of a ‘zine.  That’s what the cool kids called magazines.  I made up ‘Black and White and Barely Read’ (get it, read??) and started interviewing actual bands.  I just emailed record labels of the bands that I liked and asked to interview them at their next local show.  I kid you not, I even got photo passes for a Weezer concert.  WEEZER!  Like 3 feet away from my drooling face!  My teenage self was so stoked.  I don’t know what made me do it or why I thought I could actually sway these record labels to let me interview their bands.  The funny (or sad, however you look at it) thing is that Black and White and Barely Read never actually got published.  I just have my typed up or hand-written interviews hanging out in my filing cabinet waiting for the time that I can tell my kids just how ‘hip’ I was in my day.  I love music – I love seeing local bands’ shows or going to large-scale concerts.  I eventually went on to do the same thing but in radio format for my short stint as a DJ of my own radio show in college.

My second, and actually lucrative endeavor was selling glitter makeup to my affluent classmates.  Looking back it seems totally ridiculous.  I would buy glitter gel then clean out the gel and fill the little plastic container with just glitter.  Then I would sell said glitter to my drama classmates – like a drug dealer but way more legal and sparkly.  I had 20 or so colors and would mix custom combinations.  I did this under the company name “Cannibal Cosmetics’ – creepy or endearing?  You decide!  I got the name idea from a friend of mine who started ‘Cannibal Clothing’ – I think the only thing they ever made was a t-shirt with Richard Nixon saying “I am not a cannibal.”  Who knows, I didn’t get it at the time.  With Cannibal Crafts I made some money and continued to feed that entrepreneurial spirit.

One thing I remember clearly about those two “businesses” was that I had business cards.  I actually sat down and designed them – at the age of 14 I was making business cards.  I find that a little silly but inspiring at the same time.  At that age I already knew a huge part of business success. . . fake it til you make it.  Having confidence is key to succeeding in what you believe in.  If you’re behind your ideas 100% it’s easy for others to follow.  That’s a golden gem of advice right there, friends, believe in yourself and others will believe in you too.

And that, my internet readership, is chapter two of my entrepreneurial story.  Stick around for chapters three, four and five!