I’m proud to announce that today, May 15, 2018 is the First Ever Dual Diagnosis Day! And I know what you might be thinking… a) WTF is dual diagnosis? b) Do we really need another awareness day? and c) Why should I care? Well, the answer, just like the problem, is complex… And YES... You should care about dual diagnosis because you might actually have it. In fact, I believe it effects most of us in one way or another. Although the definition of dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders is technically “the coexistence of both a diagnosed mental disorder and a substance use disorder” I believe that we all lie somewhere along the dual diagnosis spectrum. I believe that such a complicated nest of illnesses can’t be defined in such black and white terms. In fact, it’s precisely that kind of “all or nothing” thinking that prevents many of us from ever finding true happiness or a greater sense of wellbeing.
In order to spread awareness and reduce stigma associated with bipolar disorder, as well as to celebrate Vincent van Gogh’s birthday and World Bipolar Day, I, Brooke Hilton, bipolar 1 disorder sufferer and aspiring LCSW, have teamed up with Bianca Rodriguez, LMFT to provide you with:
The Top 5 Reasons Having Bipolar Disorder Doesn’t Suck Nearly as Much as You Would Think:
Lots of people like to tell me that my marriage “didn’t count.” I’m not entirely sure why, as I have the marriage license (and subsequent divorce filings) to prove it did, in fact, happen. I changed my last name with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Motor Vehicles. I filed my taxes jointly. My ex-husband and I were legally together for almost two years. I don’t think Drew Barrymore and Tom Green lasted that long. Did their marriage “count”? What are the criteria for a “real” marriage?
In alignment with today's new moon and setting intentions, I am proud to introduce Bianca L. Rodriguez, MA, Ed.M, LMFT, a spiritual psychotherapist, healer and breathwork teacher. She is also one of my favorite people and spirit animal inspirations. I am very fortunate that she has offered to share some guidelines on how she approaches dual diagnosis treatment, one of her specialties, as well as being a huge support for me personally, and for Dual Diagnosis Day (May 15, 2018). Below highlights some of her words of wisdom.
It seems like everyone has been sick this year for the holidays… whether it be sick with a cold, sick with the flu, getting over a mental breakdown, or worse… it seems unanimous that we all just want to get better… I hear it all the time… Brooke, when will I feel better???? But, what if it’s not about getting better? What if the question is not, how to feel better or get better... but how to be better? How to be better than we were before? How to BE MORE?
I hate to admit it… you’re going to think I’m such a Grinch… but I cringe when my friends ask me for my address right before the holidays… I immediately sigh… knowing that FOR SURE… I will be receiving either an invitation to a party that I won’t want to go to because of my social anxiety disorder and low self-esteem or an ADORABLY CUTE Holiday Card that will no doubt prove my life to be meaningless and further authentication that I shall remain divorced and alone… FOREVER!
I know I am being a bit dramatic, I actually love the holidays. I love to see friends and family, to give and to receive, but they can also really wear you down… and for us double winners out there, we have to be prepared!
I trudged through the sand of Santa Monica Beach awaiting the celebration which was to ensue upon my arrival. The beach was filled with spectators as I went to the shore to set up shop. I laid out my beach towels and camouflaged workout gear. I scattered shells and crystals about with magic powers that only I was aware of… I threw my angel cards up in the air as they were whisked away by the breeze of moments yet unfolded. I took two rose quartz hearts and placed them in a dream box and hurled it into the roaring sea. This represented my one true love coming back to me. I knew that God had prepared me for this mission, but I didn’t know where I was going, who I was to become or who I was waiting for. All I knew was that God was everything and that I trusted Her with my heart and soul. I believed my day had come. I had arrived.
As I pranced down the Venice Beach Boardwalk, all of my senses were in overdrive. I could feel the warmth of the sunshine as it beamed down on my chest and roasted my shoulders to a deeper shade of bronze.
Over the last six and a half years, I’ve found that my life has been catapulted into the deepest, darkest depths of despair, only to find myself emerging more resilient, hopeful, and grounded than ever before. In 2011, I had just turned 30, and my life was starting to look like I had always imagined it would as a little girl growing up in Connecticut.
Born into an upper-class family in Darien, it seemed like I had it all. My father was an investment banker, and my mother was an accomplished homemaker and philanthropist. I grew up privileged. I excelled in sports and school and went on to become an investment banker myself. I pursued an MBA from New York University in 2010 and worked in institutional sales at BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world. I lived with my boyfriend in his apartment on Gramercy Park South. We were your stereotypical WASP couple, planning our engagement, one step away from moving into a Tudor house in Westchester County with our Weimaraner, Luke.