Hi - it’s Olivia, Kush Queen founder.
As you’ve probably heard, May is mental health awareness month. A month intended to educate people on the 18.1% of Americans who live with depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder; the realities of living with these conditions; and the strategies for attaining mental health and wellness. Over this month, I’ve seen countless campaigns, social tiles, and messaging around the topic but not many personal stories.
Today, I’m going to share my mental health journey.
For me, every day of my life is mental health awareness month. I was diagnosed bipolar in my early 20s and knew pretty much my entire life that I had some form of mental illness. I had my first nervous breakdown at age 6 and struggled from that moment on to sleep. As my friends got older and began sharing more about internal feelings, I knew my feelings weren’t normal.
When I turned 18, I started getting formal treatment.
Chapter 1: My Experience With The Mental Health System
There was little that could prepare me for entering the U.S.’s mental health system. The revolving door of pharmaceutical drugs, the side effects, the blood work, the talk therapy.
During this time, I got sober, I even avoided cannabis at one point. I got a formal diagnosis in my 20’s. Bipolar they said. I remember reading, googling, and feeling like the diagnosis sounded pretty spot on.
I felt a sense of calm knowing this was actually it, but as I dove deeper into my bipolar diagnosis I felt even more alone. Sure there are plenty of people with bipolar disorder, I just couldn’t find anyone having long periods of stability, being happy, and ultimately living their life. The hard truth I learned at that point is that in some ways I felt more alone, more convinced I didn't belong here more than ever.
In the depths of my despair, I had a moment where I remember being so afraid for myself. So afraid I would take my own life that I did whatever and took whatever my doctor prescribed. I spent 7 years in the U.S. mental healthcare system and felt like I literally walked in a circle.
I exercised, I explored new age spirituality. I had moments of joy, but nothing that was ever long-lasting. I couldn’t keep relationships and I could barely function with my own family. Most days felt like isolation and I spent most of my time deep inside my dark thoughts.
Day after day, year after year the only constant I had was that I was broken. I was bipolar, I had a chemical imbalance. And after doing everything doctors and psychologists recommended I still felt like death was a better option than living.
Chapter 2: My Turning Point and The Beginning of Kush Queen
After my 7 year journey, I began to explore other options. I used cannabis and high doses of CBD to ween off the pharmaceuticals ( i strongly advocate for doing this under the care of a doctor) which happened to be around the time I started creating Kush Queen CBD products with my family.
There’s something so raw yet beautiful about the fact that we really did develop the products for me from the depths of my desperation. No matter how many times I tell the story of Kush Queen and the products, it could never capture the place I was in and the severity of my mental health state.
I truly believe this is why the products at Kush Queen are so much more effective than other CBD products. The products and the people that believed in Kush Queen saved my life.
The beauty of it all is that we got Kush Queen out of some of my darkest times. But most importantly to me, is that we have gotten this incredible platform to talk about mental health.
Chapter 3: I’m The Person I Was Always Looking For
Now, I get to be the person who I was always hoping to find, that says you can live with bipolar disorder or mental illness and thrive. I want you to know that there are people who get better and live completely successful lives.
Having a mental illness is just a part of your story, but not your whole story. I get to be the person to tell you that there is so much more healing out there than our current mental healthcare system can provide.
I have to remind myself all the time, our mental health system is, after all, a system and institution designed to treat people en masse. There are simply constraints to what it can provide and why so many people are unsatisfied and ultimately left like I was often, back at square one.
It’s why cannabis was the catalyst to lead me to the major realization that my mental health care was more in my control than I thought. That I could impact the way I felt and acted.
That it was MY mental health and I was going to take control of my healing. I couldn’t help but think of how when I broke my arm in 4th grade, they didn't give me a pill, they gave me a cast. My body healed my arm, why could it not heal my mind?
This simple thought opened up a new chapter in my life for my mental health and wellness. It was mine and I would pursue whatever it took to feel like my best self and rebuild my desire tp experience the joy of life.
Chapter 4: Where I Am Today
Nothing was perfect nor is perfect today and I won’t pretend it’s easy. For me, consistency in everything was what made the difference. In my cannabis and CBD use, in the exercise, in the therapy, in the shadow work, in the inner child work, in the microdosing, in going to nature, in doing trauma work, and in doubling down when things get tough.
We all have the power to rewrite our stories, reclaim our healing. And if we do get the privilege of recovery to find that joy to live, we must share our stories so we can pass them on.
No, our healing won’t look the same because our diseases are not the same, but our literal existence should be celebrated and broadcast as a sign of hope that we are all not doomed to a life of misery.
This is why I share that I am bipolar in every interview I get because we have got to not only rewrite our stories but help rewrite and reframe the way we think about mental illness.
Part of my journey is to normalize real conversations about mental illness, to put faces and stories to the diseases. So if another young person is diagnosed bipolar they can find a little light and comfort in knowing there are people out there thriving with their mental illness.
Follow me on TikTok for a snapshot of me living my life - don't worry I share, the highs and the lows, the joys and the hardships!