Nadja is my pseudonym, and I omit all names to protect the identities of myself and my loved ones, because unfortunately, there is so much prejudice and stigma out there. I have personally been victimized by stigma and most of my clients have been more so. Nadja is a Romanian name that means “hope.”
I am a woman in my early thirties who was formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder type two sometime around age thirteen, but based on early memories of symptoms, I became symptomatic around age six or seven. My father was bipolar type one with psychotic features, and continues to stalk my nightmares and depressive episodes with a deep fear that I will become as sick as he is. My mother divorced him when I was eleven, and the last time I saw him was when I was sixteen. The last time I heard his voice was an answering machine message he left on the day of my graduation from high school, in which he said he was proud of me for the first time I could ever remember. His mother, the only family member he had not alienated, passed away in 2008, and he disappeared. I do not know where he is, or even if he is still alive at this time. My mother and stepfather married when I was twelve, and though the following years were tough, if my journal entries are anything to go by, now we mostly see eye-to-eye and they are far more understanding of my illness and my idiosyncrasies. I was diagnosed with PTSD by my psychologist recently, due to the abuse I went through as a child and the panic attacks and flashbacks I now have as a result.
I was hospitalized for a few days in college due to a breakdown and it wasn’t until then that I was put on effective medication, and was treated for hypothyroidism, as well, which had exacerbated my already crippling depression to the point where I barely did anything but sleep for a few months. I am now thriving (for the most part) and work as a case manager with the mentally ill, helping to connect my clients with resources and help them manage their illnesses so they can live independent, functional lives. I have a passion for helping other people with mental illness combat stigma and be connected with the resources they need to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
I believe strongly in Health at Every Size, and often comment about it. I highly recommend reading Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about your Weight by Linda Bacon. It is a fantastic book and teaches evidence-based practices for health. I am as verbal about abuse against fat people as I am about abuse against the mentally ill, and I am also very much a feminist. Sometimes I come across a bit too strong, but I am very passionate about all of these things. The best way to sum it all up is, I am a strong, vocal advocate for civil rights of all kinds- the rights of the mentally ill, women’s rights, gay rights, fat rights, everything. I am extremely liberal, and tend to get a bit passionate about politics, especially when it’s a rights or entitlements issue. I make a lot of people uncomfortable on Facebook and I have to think really hard before opening my mouth when I’m at family gatherings, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s taken 28 years of hurt to turn me into what I am today and I want to keep that momentum going forward.
On the second anniversary of my blog, I went public with Prozac in my Corn Flakes on my personal Facebook. I’m not sure if it was the right or wrong choice, but I felt I had been hiding from the world for too long and it was time to take a stand against stigma. I will remain Nadja, and will try to keep things fairly anonymous still.