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Entry #1: “If you don’t get real, and don’t deal, you’ll never heal.”

As a child, Stephanie learned how to hide a panic attack so she didn’t draw attention to herself. Her earliest memory of being in a deep depressed state was at fourteen years old. Mental health stigma in society made her feel ashamed and embarrassed that she couldn’t control her emotions and impulses. In class, Stephanie would “daydream” ( a coping mechanism known as dissociation). She never connected with kids at grade school or high school, and her college years were isolating. After graduating with honours in 1993, Stephanie was struggling with undiagnosed PTSD and ADHD, coupled with cycling in and out of extreme bipolar depressive and manic episodes. 

An easy way to understand bipolar depression is that without treatment, patients have two moods. When manic, patients can seem “high” or drunk. They can go on spending sprees, lose touch with reality, talk rapidly, are charismatic, and because all senses of the body are in overdrive, marriages end due to cheating. These are some examples of how damaging mania is. Stephanie describes that when manic (before finding recovery), her brain had no “off switch.” Imagine not sleeping for weeks! 

What is the dark side of bipolar? Stephanie describes coming off mania. “When coming back to reality, you remember how you behaved, who you hurt, and then feel deep humiliation. I could not keep a job because of the physical and mental burnout mania caused.” When dangerously depressed, Stephanie went to emergency rooms begging for help. After her hospitalization in 2015, her family accepted how UNTREATED bipolar depression affected not only the way she behaved and thought, but also how this disorder was equally damaging to her physical health. Stephanie left her alcoholic husband at this time because she knew that stresses caused her to be symptomatic. Feeling supported, Stephanie was ready to explore treatment by taking medications prescribed by her psychiatrist, and accepted counselling from a psychiatric nurse monthly at outpatient services through her local hospital. Stephanie hopes that sharing her recovery journey with us saves lives, and that families have a deeper understanding of this disease. 


Stephanie Preston creates powerful, humorous videos on managing bipolar disorder symptoms. She is a Social Service Worker, Health Care Aide and suffers from severe bipolar depression herself. She is the proud wife of St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston, loves being a grandma and is Crossfit obsessed. Follow her at www.tiktok.com/@bipolaronthebrain and www.facebook.com/bipolaronthebrain.


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