It’s still a shock, every morning, to wake up in this body and in this mind.

Coco Densmore
4 min readSep 11
Photo by Shane on Unsplash

Before I realized how very sick I am with bipolar, I honestly believed the things I was experiencing were unique to me.

I read self-help books that reinforced the notion I was simply undisciplined. That all I had to do was develop healthy habits and everything would fall into place. The message was that you can think yourself into having positive self-esteem. That information didn’t help me, in fact quite the opposite. I was conditioned to believe I could just improve myself all by myself, that the lack was all in me.

I thought 12 Steps might help, but it was much more complicated. 12 Steps focuses on behaviors, managing behaviors. I know that’s an oversimplification, and I’m not saying 12 Steps wouldn’t be helpful. The thing is, relying on a power greater than myself, which I have done all my life, doesn’t cure mental illness. I finally realized I needed to deal with the bipolar head on before I could even think to focus on addictive behaviors.

Through my writings, I began to understand more about myself, and how the illness was consuming all the goodness in my life. I started seeing how the illness was dictating my choices and decisions, and how self-sabotaging I had become. But as those truths began to unfold, I simply heaped more blame upon myself.

I started studying more about the condition, reading, connecting in support groups, watching YouTube presentations. More and more, I heard people describe the difficult aspects of my life, those aspects of which I thought I struggled in isolation. They were using the same words I used to help me make sense of who I had become. They were sharing experiences I didn’t think anyone else had. They were giving a voice to my suffering.

I wondered why I hadn’t caught on for so long. The only explanation is, all my life I’ve been told I’m dramatic, attention-seeking, and just not right in the head. I’ve felt as if I was a difficult person that my family tolerated, with the tired old explanation, “Oh that’s just Coco.”

I’ve been told I just needed to think positively. I was told if I cleaned up my act and stopped having sex and stopped drinking and lost weight and stopped sinning and stopped doing bad things, I’d be OK. I was told…

Coco Densmore

Coco Densmore writes about Embracing Her Single, being HSV-2+, living with bipolar mental illness, and overcoming childhood sexual abuse.