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The first time I heard and vaguely understood what the word “bipolar” meant was when I was watching a reality competition show. I can’t recall which one it was, but I remember hearing one of the female contestants calling a woman she didn’t like “bipolar.”

Up until that point I hadn’t quite captured what that meant. In this particular show, she was referring to someone whose emotions seemed to change constantly. But it was most definitely used in a pejorative way. …


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I haven’t written anything here in years, and that’s both by design and by coincidence. The past few years, especially 2020, have been a complete shitshow for the world at large and for me personally. I’ve gone through a lot of changes with my work and with who I am as a person, and it’s been a huge adjustment.

I’m a freelancer now and have been for almost a year. I’ve considered suicide multiple times despite the fact that I wrote a piece on how I got through it. In 2020 I finally started trusting that my friends won’t betray…


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*Spoilers* So many spoilers

When I was in high school, I had my own ideas of what a romantic relationship looked like. I daydreamed of my then-boyfriend appearing in my bedroom like Edward Cullen or “coincidentally” showing up to rescue me from any inconvenience. What I wanted the most was a grand, public gesture of love like a promposal or a stereo blasting outside my window. Years of romantic movies, TV shows, and books taught me and so many other girls what’s considered charming and sweet from a significant other. …


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Life is a lot like swimming in the ocean. Life with mental illness adds extra weight to your limbs. Swimming constantly is tiring. There are days when swimming feels easy, fun even. Feeling the breath in your lungs, the temperature of the water across your body, and the sight of the horizon makes you feel alive. Maybe even hopeful.

But there are days when your lungs burn. The water chills your bones, and the sight of the horizon makes you wonder when you’ll ever get there. How much longer are you expected to swim?

At some point, you don’t. Instead…


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Because It Doesn’t

When I was diagnosed with Bipolar II, I was extremely relieved. It felt like I had finally come closer to understanding what was going on with me. My moods made sense to me and it helped me see myself with a clearer lens.

Initially, the transition was difficult as I became more mindful of my emotions. I noticed and felt every mood swing as they came and went. Keeping track of them quickly drove me crazy. I couldn’t tell what was a normal response to a situation, what was depression, what was mania, and what was me anymore. Because the…


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Handling criticism is somewhat of a balancing act. It’s a necessary aspect of life that should be done with a calm and level head; however, that only applies to constructive criticism. That type is helpful and can provide some insight. Unfortunately, not everyone who provides feedback intends to help or do anything other than bring you down. To save yourself from headaches and heartbreaks, here are the kinds of commentary you should ignore.

Judgments that are malicious

By this I mean if you’ve drawn a portrait and someone takes one look at it and says, “Wow. This sucks,” feel free to ignore it. These…


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This post was inspired by and is for M.B.

Finding a treatment plan that works for you can be a long and arduous process. It takes time to work out the kinks and get back to feeling some kind of normal. When you hit those bumps in the road, don’t give up.

When I finished Life Skills (my group therapy class), I was supposed to feel better. I should have been looking forward to the new chapters ahead of me. …


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Depression is a kick in the nuts. When you’re in it, you’re really in it, and it feels like it lasts forever. There’s no energy to do anything, the world around you is gloomy but for some reason, everyone keeps telling you to cheer up.

You don’t like being this way and it’s not your fault. Not only that, you start to believe terrible things about yourself and your life that make getting back to an okay place extremely difficult.

If you are depressed right now, you may not want to read any of this. It’ll seem like I’m not…


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Nobody likes to receive criticism. It’s typically negative and, depending on who’s giving it, can be a little harsh. As much as we’d like to avoid it, feedback of any kind is essential. It helps us learn and strengthen our skills. The problem comes when we’re faced with it and take it personally. This prevents us from taking anything meaningful out of it. That, in turn, can make us closed off from all critique. Here’s how to handle criticism in a way that benefits you no matter the situation.

Watch your initial reaction

Whenever you get criticism, it’s easy to get offended, use it…


Photo taken by Author

Dear Just Kids,

I remember the first time I saw you sitting atop the Must-Read table at Barnes & Noble. Your cover, a simple black and white photo of your author, Patti Smith, and Robert Mapplethorpe captivated me. Its simplistic design and Patti’s piercing eyes drew me to you, magnetic. Once I held you in my hands, I knew you were something special and that we needed to go on a journey together.

When I first flipped through your pages, I was an eager, idealistic college student, primed to believe an entire beautiful future stood ahead of me if I…

J. M. Cools

Life lessons as they come and other things. Email me johanie.cools@gmail.com or tip me on Venmo @Jojo-MC

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