Because of stigma, the name of the mentee interviewed by Kerry Martin, her bipolar mentor, is with held. In this conversation, we talk about what it's like for her to live with a bipolar diagnosis, what motivates her to get up in the morning (her psych dog), how the mentoring program has helped her, and why she thinks psych dogs or pets in general, can help those who are struggling with bipolar and, in particular, depression.
Q: How has our bipolar mentoring program helped you?
A: I'm not the kind of person who reaches out when I get to be in a really bad place. I tend to isolate … and there's not that many people who understand. My husband doesn't understand and actually I don't really have any friends. There's no one for me to call or reach out to but with you being my mentor, when I got in a space that was ugly I actually had someone to reach out to and someone that I knew would understand what I was going to and just listen to me and just know that there was another human being that I can call if I needed help.
I AM SO GLAD THAT I FOUND YOUR SITE, HOPE XCHANGE. I REACHED OUT TO YOU AND YOU WERE THERE FOR ME PRETTY QUICKLY. THAT BLEW ME AWAY. RARELY HAS THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME IN THE TWENTY YEARS THAT I HAVE HAD THIS DISEASE.
AS YOU KNOW HAVING A BIPOLAR DISEASE AND THE LONELINESS AND LOSS OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY CAN BE SO HARD TO DEAL WITH. I HAVE LOST SO MUCH IN MY LIFE. MY PROFESSION, MY FINANCIAL STABILITY, MY DIGNITY AND SO MUCH MORE. I HAVE THE MISFORTUNE OF CYCLING EVERY DAY AND CANNOT WORK.
YOUR CALL MEANT SO MUCH TO ME. I RARELY EVER GET PHONE CALLS AND YOURS WAS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR. I SMILED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SUCH A VERY LONG TIME. I LOOK FORWARD TO OUR NEXT PHONE CONVERSATION AND I WILL BE HONORED TO HELP YOU AND THE ORGANIZATION IN ANY WAY I CAN.
I THANK YOU WITH ALL MY HEART AND LOOK FORWARD TO BEING IN SERVICE TO HOPE XCHANGE AND ITS MEMBERS.
I HAVE ONLY BEEN WORKING WITH HOPE XCHANGE FOR A SHORT TIME, BUT THE PEOPLE I HAVE MET ARE SO KIND AND CARING. HAVING SOMEONE TO LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGEMENT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR ANYONE, AND THAT IS CERTAINLY TRUE FOR PEOPLE MANAGING A MENTAL ILLNESS. IT'S AWESOME TO KNOW SOMEONE WITH A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE HAS YOUR BACK!
DEAR KERRY & KATHY,
HOPE XCHANGE HAS MADE A HUGE IMPACT ON MY LIFE. A WONDERFUL WOMAN, KATHY SALAS, BEGAN CALLING ME & HELPING ME WITH NEW COPING SKILLS, ME DECIDING ON NEW TASK I WAS GOING TO ACCOMPLISH WITHIN THE NEXT WEEK AND COUNTLESS OTHER SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH MY BIPOLAR.
AFTER HAVING TO RETIRE BECAUSE OF MY BIPOLAR DIAGNOSIS, I WAS ABOUT TO FALL INTO THE DARK ABYSS BUT HOPE XCHANGE WAS THERE FOR ME AND CHANGED MY LIFE. KATHY AND I STAYED IN CONTACT WEEKLY FOR MANY MONTHS. WE CHECK ON ONE ANOTHER NOW AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, I NOW HAVE SOMEONE I CAN CALL WHEN I FEEL I'M TOTALLY LOSING IT! SOMETHING I HAD NEVER HAD BEFORE, AN EMERGENCY PERSON THAT TRULY UNDERSTANDS AND WILL BE THERE FOR ME!
THANK YOU KERRY MARTIN AND KATHY SALAS YOU HAVE TRULY HELPED ME! I ALSO KNOW THERE ARE SO MANY MORE PEOPLE THAT YOU ALL HAVE HELPED TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT. HOPE XCHANGE IS LIKE A RIPPLE IN THE WATER. YOUR HELP AND LOVE TOUCHES SO MANY PEOPLE JUST BY STARTING WITH ONE.
I AM NOW AN ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR ON A CLOSED BIPOLAR GROUP ON FACEBOOK. I WANT TO BE ABLE TO PASS IT ON AND HELP WHEN I CAN. BUT I ALWAYS REMEMBER, EVEN THE BEST FALL DOWN SOMETIMES, BUT NOW WHEN I GET UP I'M STRONGER THAN BEFORE! THANK YOU HOPE XCHANGE,