Living with bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses can seem isolating and miserable because of fear of judgment. But Paris Prynkiewicz is working to shatter the stigma so that people can share their diagnoses and live with gratitude and joy while building healthy lifestyles.
While living with bipolar disorder has been more than challenging, Paris Prynkiewicz has found gratitude and courage to share her journey to help shatter the stigma around mental illness and help others navigate it.
About Paris Prynkiewicz
Paris is the author of Crooked Illness: Lessons from Inside and Outside Hospital Walls, in which she shares her own journey and struggles with bipolar disorder alongside steps that people can take to shatter the stigma and craft the life they have always dreamed of living. She wrote her story to help others come out of the dark moments. Paris is also the host of The Master Your Mental Podcast. Her content and interviews help to make mental health challenges more normalized and less stigmatized.
Why do things happen
Robyn emphasized her belief that everything we go through happens for a reason, for us to then help others navigate similar circumstances.
The Stigma Around Mental Health
Mental health is a disease state like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes are disease states. When people are diagnosed with any of the latter others tend to be compassionate and feel bad for them. But when people are diagnosed with mental health challenges, there are often stereotypes, they are weird, strange, or crazy. As a result people often have to navigate their diagnosis alone. Robyn mentioned that she is an advocate for the homeless population and so many of them are homeless as a result of mental illness.
Shattering the stigma around mental illness is why Paris started her show and wrote her book. Paris discovered that if we are willing to be vulnerable, we will become more comfortable talking about mental health. Accepting vulnerability allows you to share your stories and connect with others, which will help you heal. Often people who have a mental health diagnosis are afraid to share the diagnosis because they don’t want to be judged. Therefore, they live behind a mask, a facade. Paris did this, and the result is a crash and burn because of neglect of emotions. Many times the root of this is trauma.
Recognizing the need for help
It is important to recognize the triggers. Without a diagnosis, people are often confused about why they are feeling this way, and because of fear of stigma and they don’t get help.
You need to be your own advocate for healthcare. Because mental health benefits are always less than other health benefits, there is a more significant risk of not getting the help needed. The lack of benefits lends to more stigmatization because people don’t see it as important.
Robyn emphasized that there is nothing to be ashamed of when you have a diagnosis of a mental health disorder. But it is important to be your own advocate and get the help needed to navigate it.
How Paris is successful living with bipolar disorder
For Paris, the journey with bipolar began at 14 years of age with depression. When she was 16, she was officially diagnosed with depression and put on medication. She felt like it was more than depression but she didn’t know anything about her family history. But when she was 15, she went through sexual assault but believed that she couldn’t share it because she was told it was her fault. That she deserved it. This altered her perspective of her life and she didn’t trust people going forward.
At the end of her 18th year, just before age 19, she was hospitalized. For those who don’t know, there is Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 1. Paris was diagnosed with Bipolar 1, which is when you have hyper mania. Bipolar 2 is when you have hypomania. At the time, she was doing a lot of different things to distract herself because she was living with so much shame and guilt. She was drinking and partying a lot, having sex with a lot of people, and putting herself in risky situations because she felt so miserable inside.
During this time, she was not sleeping, she was working two jobs, going out all of the time, and being reckless. She didn’t care about the consequences. At 16 she had a failed suicide attempt, another indicator she didn’t value herself as a person.
The big change while living with bipolar disorder
The big change for Paris was not the hospitalization at 19, but at 23, after graduating from college she worked at the clinic where she had been a patient. This gave her insight into both ends of the spectrum, what it’s like to be a patient, and what it’s like to try to bring services to patients.
But what really helped her the most? Was the work she did on her own self. She stopped blaming others and situations. This is when she asked herself what she could do and she began practicing gratitude and mindset work. Personal development, reading more books, nutrition, exercise, and working on herself all the way around, is what helped her the most. It took years of these practices and being consistent to get to where she is today. The more consistent you are, the more your mindset will shift and your limiting beliefs will start to dissipate and you’ll start to believe in yourself.
You will begin to see the value that you can bring to others. But you have to start somewhere. Remove the toxic traits. It is important to take ownership of your actions, how you treat people, and the environments you put yourself in, and change what isn’t healthy. Changing what you put into your body and how you spend your time is also critical. And like Paris, once you do all of these things, you will see the beauty in your life.
Learn more and connect with Paris
Navigating mental health doesn’t have to be isolating and miserable. We are here for you. To start developing healthy habits for a healthy mind, download this free eBook today here.