The Struggle is Real


Besides the summer months, spring has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Between spring break shenanigans, family time on Easter Sunday, fresh bluebonnets on the side of the road and the beginning of NBA playoffs, what is not to love?

Up until three years ago, that was my naive outlook on what springtime consisted of.

During my junior year of college in March of 2013, my entire world was flipped upside down in what felt like the blink of an eye. In reality, it was a slow demise over the course of a three-week period that lead into Easter weekend. I began to lose control of everything that mattered in my life and I had no idea why any of this was happening to me.

My relationship, my classes, my tennis career. Everything fell apart before I even had the time to realize what was going on or the chance to ask for help. I was blind sided by this horrendous illness and was left feeling like a mere shell of the person I once was.

I was 20 years old when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar-Disorder. What I was experiencing that spring was my first severe manic episode.

That was exactly three years ago today and I have come a long way since then. Once the aftershock of my diagnosis wore off, I began to research and educate myself on this illness. Bipolar disorder is something that nearly 10 million Americans are affected by. The more facts and figures that I read up on, the less I felt like I had just been served a life sentence. I began to see this diagnosis as a challenge and decided to use the manic highs and the depressive lows to my creative benefit. It’s always been as if I view life through a kaleidoscope but now I finally understood why.



I always can tell when mania is around the corner. My thoughts don’t end… It’s as if I can’t catch my breath and I’m constantly jumping from one idea to the next. All without ever opening my own mouth. I feel as if I’ve been talking for ages but I haven’t said a word.

I feel itchy. My arms, face, legs; they itch. Terribly.

With that, I become agitated because I can’t soothe this itch… It is not going away and there is not a damn thing I can do. This is when I begin to truly feel madness.

Majority of the time I battle with depression, day in and day out, I am constantly trying to find ways to make myself feel happy. So keep in mind, once this mania begins, it’s easy to love it momentarily, I finally don’t feel sad. My heart feels full and my is mind clear. This is amazing… Right?

Wrongthis is dangerous. Mania is addicting. Easily the best high I’ve ever felt. I don’t need drugs, my mind does this all on its own. I have learned to control it though. The highs can serve as creative revolutions and the lows are my time to really feel everything around me. I am now more in tune with myself than I ever have been.

I always know  when I am on the brink of a full on episode. On those certain nights I choose to stay in to rest my mind and body. If I would go out on nights like those, I know it would only lead to another sleepless cycle, which would make me think about people from my past and I definitely would feel terrible the next morning. It is so crucial to pay attention to what your body is telling you and not to ignore those symptoms.

Thankfully, three years later at 23 years old, I now know when I feel off. All of my senses become heightened, I can hear it in my voice and see it in my tired eyes. But even after all this time, I still struggle with my ability to feel it all when it comes to the world around me. Believe me when I say it is no where near easy being a manic-depressive human but it is also not impossible.

My moods swing on a fucking pendulum day in and day out. Relentlessly. Aggressively. Unforgivingly. Beautifully.

That’s my life and I am so in love with it. While it is exhausting fighting this disease, I am a survivor. I wouldn’t trade my mind for anything in this universe. I will not let this take my life. It’s been trying for years but I will continue with my efforts to prove myself to those around me. My only hope is to show others you can live a remarkable life even if you are forced to deal with a mental illness like I am. I refuse to let this define me. Now, more than ever, I seek happiness for every human on earth.

I know that at times life can feel unimaginably difficult but when things get dark try to think of this quote; know that brighter days are patiently awaiting your arrival and that you have so much life left to live.

“They say that one must beat one’s wings against the storm in the belief that beyond this welter the sun shines.” – Virginia Woolf, The Waves


All My Love,




  1. Jamie · March 29, 2016

    Babe. I never knew yet somehow understood you felt this a few years ago. I never understood and feel as though I couldn’t help you be the happy sunflower I always knew and know you to be. But I truly felt it was that one low point in your life (that I saw) and ever since you blossomed forward I’ve never seen a better YOU and to be told you still fight every day for the joy I always tell people you automatically give off like air is dumbfounding to me and makes you all the more special to me as a human and a soul that is in my heart ❤️ My wakarusa butterfly


    • sea the sunshine · March 29, 2016

      My jamie!!!!!! I love you and miss you so much. xoxxoxoxo times a million babe


  2. Debi · March 29, 2016

    Val, I had no idea. You are incredibly strong for sharing your story. What you have written can and will help others.


    • sea the sunshine · March 29, 2016

      Thank you so much Debi. I appreciate the love and support! Especially from someone who has known me my whole life. Love you!!!


  3. Adela Espinoza · March 30, 2016

    Val, sharing your story will help others . My nephew suffers with mental illness as well. He too has come along way since his diagnosis. Reading stories like yours have given him hope to move forward and cope with his mental illness. Keep sharing your stories, they will help many that struggle. You’re just like your beautiful mama, a very strong and amazing woman! God bless you Val.


    • sea the sunshine · March 31, 2016

      Thank you so much for this Adela!! I JUST replied to your comment on my dads fb post 🙂 I really appreciate the words of encouragement. They mean more than you will ever know!!


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