My experience with bipolar disorder

I started my project @julia_lives_bipolar just a couple months ago with hopes that sharing my story would help others. With all of the positive feedback I have received, I feel validated and beyond encouraged to keep writing. I intend to expand as far as I can reach. 

For me, bipolar disorder onset in college. During an especially dark depression I was diagnosed bipolar, but with a confusing second opinion, I abandoned the idea entirely. I suffered cycles of crippling depressions, productive manias and short times of peace until three years ago.

While living in San Francisco I had a manic episode so strong that my mind crossed into a state of psychosis. I spent one night in the ER, a few hours in solitary confinement, a week in a psychiatric ward and then a month at an outpatient recovery center.

This event put me on a path that to diagnosis, acceptance, treatment and healing. Recovery was long, difficult and absolutely worth it. With the help of doctors, medication, my family and friends, I am ok now. I'm stable.

I hope that my stories can inspire those who are struggling, and help the families and friends of people who suffer understand what it's like to be bipolar.

Mental illness is common and can be treated. You're not alone.

- Julia



Lessons I learned in school about mental health

I think we, as adults or budding adults, often underestimate the extent to which kids and teens are affected by mental health issues, and how much power and access we hold to help them. The infographic shows this beautifully, and as a former teacher, I saw this firsthand during my first year.

One of the students in my class with whom I quickly bonded at the beginning of the year began to open up more and more during the second half of the school year. Previously, we had just chatted about likes and dislikes or day to day activities, but she slowly began to tell me of her struggles in questioning her sexuality, the tension within her family of having an older brother in jail, and beginning medication for depression. I want to say that I was always happy to listen, but as an overwhelmed first year teacher, sometimes the conversations seemed to draw out forever. I loved this student, but I had 1,000 things to do!

However, at the end of the year, she wrote me a very simple card. Some of it was the typical end of year, have a great summer stuff we all remember from high school yearbooks, but one line read: "To be honest, knowing you were here was the reason I was able to get out of bed some mornings. I don't know what I would have done this year without you, and I don't know if I would be here."

I cried, and still do when I read it. I will keep this card forever.

Not a second of the time we spent was wasted, and this reminded me of the impact of just one listening ear, one trusted confidant. All we did was talk; all it took was that.

- Mary Heida

I Define Autism

When you see the word "Autism" what do you think about when it first come to mind? A Colorful Puzzle pieces that you see in charity events or websites, hearing that word in the news or word by mouth or someone you know from a friend that their loved one has Autism or they are Autistic?

The Word "Autism" is something that people have misguide or misunderstood about the traits or how we fully live the world that surrounds us especially the socializing.
As myself on the Autism Spectrum can fully tell you how we see it through our eyes where not others Medical professional wouldn't tell you or just make a brief summary about it. 
Autism for me is something we connect differently, similar with the Colorful puzzle pieces that you see in some website or anywhere in social media that supports Autism Awareness. The Puzzle pattern behind it reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum. The different shapes and color represents the diversity of the people and families living in those conditions. Every individual with Autism is Different, NOT less and have different needs such as myself on the High Level Functioning Autism which is known as Aspergers and then there's others where it's severe were they having trouble expressing themselves, communicating.

I was diagnosed with Autism at the Age of Five and I remember throughout my childhood years I always figure and question myself "Why am I so different than others? Why is it trouble expressing myself even though I know what I want to say in my mind but couldn't let the words out of my mouth? and the Therapy I would usually go every twice a week. All these Childhoods was full of Questions and living in a Oblivion. After completing my therapy services then comes teenage year were I was Bullied alot in school by Students and Teachers. Those Teachers wouldn't really help me whenever I get Anxiety Episode and Depression. I don't go to school because of that reason and haven't told my parents anything that is happening. I always thought they will get disappointed of me. All the teen years was me having to deal with the bully problem and my anxiety episode. It was then my parents started to notice that something is wrong, so they held countless of meetings with the school to see what's the problem and why I haven't gotten to school. I finally get a chance to open myself up. The Teachers and adminstrators in school really judge every single problem that I encounter and they told my parents that I was being a spoiled brat and you're acting like a baby to him" 
I remember my parents got really furious and angry at the adminstators and my parents told me to wait outside since I was quite in the melancholy state with the mix of Anxiety. After the feedbacks, comments and the hard pressure from the school, my parents took me out of school. I was then later had gone through Therapies and counseling for my Anxiety and Depression and my parents later finally told me about the primary diagnoses that I had since I was a child. When I heart the word about Autism or what I was diagnosed "Aspergers" I had this confused look on my face and after they told I quickly research about Autism and their traits. As far I reviewed everything about Autism, I truly found myself and relieved. The reason my parents told me about my autism diagnoses during my teenage year is that they were worried of how I will react to that news even though they tried to tell me when I was younger but it wasn't the right time and they made a choice to tell me as it's the right time. I Accept my autism and accept what I have, without it then I won't be composing music or writing poems and seeing the world differently which seeing it that way gives me inspiration to it. We Just Connected Differently. Like our brains is at HD (High-Definition) were every small thing can be enormous to us.

That's sort of a brief summary during my struggle.
As for Music, I'm an young 19 year old Ambient Musician from McAllen,TX that performs off course Ambient Music under the project of "City Of Dawn" I always wanted to create an album that deals with autism awareness and acceptance, and to share stories through music about my experience with autism.

Being autistic, sometimes we can hear certain sounds that some people can barely hear and can see or relate to the world differently to others. For example, when sitting in a coffee shop I will itemize the cacophony of the cafe, the tools clanking behind the counter. I will recall a time when an environment of commotion such as this would have caused me discomfort. It’s those sharp sounds that can invade or stab our ears like swords and can lead to irritation and anxiety. People with autism can experience this sensory issue. But for the last few months, I have found solace performing during the cafe’s open mic nights and tend to frequent the place multiple times a week which is Luna Coffee House (My Favorite Coffee Place to hang out)

Once I decided I wanted to convey my experiences in this way, I began to look into whether any ambient albums existed that had something to do with autism or were designed to help calm the senses, but I couldn’t find any particular album for that. So I decided to create a concept album. I wanted people to know that autism is NOT a disability, it’s a different ability. We are different, NOT less. Autism is NOT a Disease; we don’t want people to try to cure us, we want them to understand us. We are waiting for anyone who is willing to look through our eyes and be part of our colorful adventure. I see right now that we need more awareness, acceptance, love and understanding about autism.

I can describe my music as a “space of slow movement”.

It’s the peace you’re able to find behind the noise, so it’s like finding a peaceful sound, one of stillness and serenity. Like for example – I could be sitting outside of a coffee shop with a friend, just having a conversation, and we can hear cars soaring by, the wind blowing, the leaves moving along the street. It could be a hot sunny day and then, suddenly, there could be rain. I had a day like that recently. My friend commented that the layers of audio began to resemble musical tones, which sometimes were like static and reminded him of my music. Ambient music is sometimes mistaken for background or spa-style music, and sometimes people just doesn’t understand the purpose of ambient. The main purpose of ambient music is the idea of music that allows you any listening position in relation to it, whether you’re just reading a book along with the music, thinking, taking the time to slow down or just visualise it (like making a personal music video in your mind). I mostly describe it as “Earth Music” because it’s something you hear everywhere whenever you go outside like I mention above – cars soaring by, leaves rattling across the street. The sounds of nature. Everywhere is music if you can learn truly to listen and mostly help people with Anxiety, Depression and mostly with the Autism.

What gives me hope is mostly my Parents, Family and Friends who provide full of light and the guidance throughout my chapter of life especially I encounter volunteering with Local Autism Groups such Team Mario and Aware-RGV! They are the ones that really help me improve the social skills and getting myself out there. As a Note for Parents with a loved one on the Autism Spectrum is that there's HOPE for your child. I found a voice that I can fully express through our eyes of Autism, which is Music and Poetry. Your Child can do Unique things and can able to express themselves in whatever form of Art of Communication whether it's Painting, Music, Poetry, or anything. There's HOPE for anything. As for my Autism I'm glad to have it as to advocate people under the Autism Spectrum and to speak about my Autism so to open all doors to all individual living with the Autism.

I released a new recent album titled "Recovery II" which focuses more of that and to show that they are NOT alone and that Music can bring everyone together whether they struggling with Anxiety, Depression or any mental illness and also made an event that celebrate that album release and the theme of recovery last June, and the event turned out a Success! Wanted to Special Thank the Owners of Luna Coffee House for providing the space for that event. I will continue making music and performing in Coffee Shops like Luna Coffee House and also trying to do a living Room House Show Tour to spread my messaage about Awareness & Acceptance of Autism.

Autism Doesn't stop me from reaching my success, I'm actually finishing up my school online courses right now, and even people reaching out to me and being open about their Autism, Anxiety and Depression.
I Define Autism!

Damien Duque