Guest Post: Behind the Smile by Patricia Grace


For those of you that have met me I’m sure you’d probably say I seem like a really happy go lucky kinda person. For those of you who haven’t met me I’m sure you’d probably say similar. After all I am a very optimistic and a positive type of person. You can probably tell this from my posts on Muddled Up Mummy. But there is more to me than meets the eye. Behind the smile there is a whole other person. A person who has been through more than most people you know. So let me introduce to you the real me.

I was born in Perth WA Australia in 1984. I was born into what seemed like the perfect little family. To onlookers it would have been. Behind closed doors though it was far from that. At first things seemed good. Well for a bit they were. Then my brother was born and soon things turned really sour in our perfect little family scenario.

First it started with my Mother. Mentally and physically abused by the person who was supposed to love her. After a couple of years my Father kidnapped my brother and I and fled to the capital of Australia, Canberra.

My Mother soon followed but he wouldn’t let her see us. She was devastated, and the fact the she already suffered from poor mental health didn’t help. As time went on my Father got worse. Hurting everyone, even his own kids. Once he put me in hospital in the Intensive Care Unit, fighting for my life. What he did to me is a bit too much to share though, but so you all know it wasn’t pretty and I was only 4. Another day he was sick of me and put me in the car boot while he was driving.

My brother and I were living in fear. Every mistake we made suffered dear consequences at the hands of our so called Father. This went on for quite some time, until authorities finally stepped in and we were saved and we went to live in foster care. We soon started seeing our Mother and that eventually became every Saturday. She was the most beautiful soul and I knew this already at such a young age. It was sad for us though as she suffered from Bipolar and really couldn’t take care of us full time. So when we did see her we really looked forward to it.

We adored her so much. In my eyes she was perfect and could do no wrong. At the time though we didn’t even know she wasn’t well mentally. Then one day just before I turned 11 she passed away from a burst aneurysm in the brain. I felt an angel had been taken from earth. I was so sad. Even angry. God had taken one of the most beautiful souls on earth and it had to be my own Mother. I took this out on my foster mum because in my eyes she would never be or replace MY MUM.

I was really down for many years. I was never the same after my Mother died. As I got older I started to date. I was in 3 serious relationships over a period a 8 years. Two of them were disasters. The other wasn’t that great either. Violence. Mental abuse. Name calling. Control. Alcoholism. Cheating. These were just some of things I had to endure. After I finally got free from this evil dating spiral I realised I‘d been dating versions of my dad and lost a lot of trust in people. After years of torment I developed a mental illness.

Although doctors believe now I had problems with mental illness from a young age as I would constantly struggle. But after all my trauma from both my childhood and from adulthood I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) I tried to take my life many times and was in hospital a lot. Slowly though I started to understand it was trauma from my past catching up to me and invading my life like a virus I couldn’t shake.

With a lot of support I got my life back on track. It took a lot of strength and plenty of counseling but I got there. But this wasn’t the end of my struggles. It turns out I had Bipolar. I was diagnosed with it a couple of years ago but they say it’s been around for awhile and just wasn’t being treated. I hated getting this label. It made me feel like I must be some kind of crazy. But you know what it really doesn’t make me crazy at all.

I can’t help that I have this. They say it was probably passed down to me because both my parents have it. But each day after finding out I would wake up, realise I have this label and it would get me down. So one day I decided to ditch the label. I decided I am who I am and not the label I’d been given. So this is me.
I’m intelligent and witty.
I’m not Bipolar.
I have a positive outlook on life even if I have some really down days.
I’m not Bipolar.
I can actually be pretty funny.
I’m not Bipolar.
I’m good looking.
I’m not Bipolar.
I’m an amazing mother.
I’m not Bipolar.
I’m a great friend, partner, sister, daughter and aunty.
I’m not Bipolar.
I am me.
I’m not Bipolar.

So although I have this label that I don’t really like I try not to focus on it. I focus on all the other things that make me me. I take my meds and get on with it. But I do have days that are really hard. I have anxiety attacks at times. Some days I don’t really feel like talking to anyone. But amongst all this I’ve decided Bipolar doesn’t define me.

It doesn’t make me a freak. It’s just something I’ve been dealt and I’ve learnt to be ok with that. So much so that I’m now sharing this. Most of my family and friends don’t even know I have this. This will probably even surprise some of them. I used to be so ashamed because of the stigma behind Mental Health that I didn’t want anybody to know. But not anymore.

There needs to be more awareness so this is my part in spreading it.

Mental Illness doesn’t define a person. But you still need to be aware it’s there. It’s a struggle and if you think those with it can just suck it up and learn to be happy. They can’t. It doesn’t work like that. So please share my story as awareness is key in removing the stigma and being more open about the struggles that some people face. Make a note to yourself that you truly don’t know someone and their struggles unless they are open about it. So spread some awareness so more people feel they can open up. Also try to be more understanding when they do because if we can all do this it just might save a life.

Behind the Smile Video

Facebook Page: Muddled Up Mummy

Muddled Up Mummy's photo.

About Michelle Clark Bipolar Bandit

I am a strong advocate for the mentally ill and have been since I was first approached by a lawyer in a psychiatric facility as a teenager. He wanted me to help him fight how the mentally ill are mistreated. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 17 after a full blown manic episode. Before that, I suffered from debilitating depression for 4 years. My goals are to help others by sharing my story and providing tips to deal with mania and depression. I often write blogs related to advocating for people like myself. I want to encourage, inspire, and educate those with #bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses and also include inspirational #quotes. I founded the group Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses and the page Mental Health Advocates United and have several social media sites that are related to bipolar disorder and/or advocacy. If you are an advocate or would like to be, I hope you join our FB group: Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses
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7 Responses to Guest Post: Behind the Smile by Patricia Grace

  1. Thank you so much for this authentically real post.

  2. What a beautiful hope-filled story. Yes, we are so much more than bipolar.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I did not write this,but will pass this on to the person who did. 🙂

    • Trish says:

      Hi there. I wrote this and really appreciate your kinds words and taking the time to read my story. You’re totally right, we are way more than someone with Bipolar but I suppose many of us don’t feel like that so this was a reminder to all of them. Feel free to follow more of my journey by liking my blog page on Facebook: ‘Muddled Up Mummy’

  3. What a moving story. Thanks for sharing.

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