I am an artist and writer who has suffered from anxiety and mood swings since I was a young girl. I've got social anxiety, performance anxiety, and then there's that illusive "general anxiety" that floats in and out of my life. My friends say I've accomplished an amazing amount, but every bit of it had to be wrenched from the jaws of the anxiety monster.
I've been anxious since third grade, and bipolar since I was a teenager, though that wasn't diagnosed until my forties. Most of my life, I never thought I had any certifiable condition. The anxiety was considered "shyness" when I was young. But it really was fear of too many things that shouldn't have been so frightening.
Like many others who struggle with bipolar disorder, I moved around a lot in life, from place to place, school to school, and job to job. I've worked as a secretary, a writer, an editor, a publisher, a junior-high English and Math teacher (six months), a business trainer and manager, a Kirby vacuum salesperson (one week), a leather crafter, and a college professor.
Art was my first love since I was a young child, and for the last seven years I've been fortunate to be able to work full-time in my home studio in Ithaca, New York. You can view my abstract paintings on my website and read my All About Art blog.
In a spurt of hypomanic energy in 2000, I moved my father and my ex-mother-in-law out of their homes in Florida and New Jersey to live near me in Ithaca, and I became their primary caregiver. While living through this three-year adventure, I kept a journal to both record the events and vent my feelings. Later, I reshaped the material into a memoir, The Bipolar Dementia Art Chronicles: How a Manic-Depressive Artist Survives Being the Primary Caregiver for Her Father and Ex-Mother-in-Law.
One thing that's helped me survive is my local bipolar support group, which I help facilitate. Many of our members suffer from anxiety as well as bipolar issues. Anxiety often tags along with other mental and physical illnesses. When I am depressed, I am more anxious. And sometimes, severe anxiety seems to cause my depression.