Empowerment

Published Author, Certified Peer Specialist and Mental Health Advocate, Margo Williams Talks on Ways she Copes with Bipolar Disorder and Remaining Positive

Margo Williams is a God-favored wife, mother of four adult children, and
newly published author. Writing has been her passion for as long as she can remember. Margo was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in March 2004, while pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree. Margo is compelled to share her mental health story to give people hope and knowledge that they’re not alone. She wants people struggling with mental illnesses, along with their caregivers, friends, and loved ones to know recovery is real. You can still live a productive life, fulfill your dreams, and be happy. After many years of trial and error, she, along with her doctor’s help and God’s grace, have mastered a life of recovery and hope. Margo received a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Arts and Sciences with an Emphasis in Counseling. After which, she worked for several years at the San Antonio State Hospital as a Certified Peer Specialist. Being an advocate for herself and her peers is very important to Margo. Margo lives a productive, happy, and peaceful life in her native town of San Marcos, Texas with her husband. Today she is proud to be a survivor of many things, especially suicide attempts and cancer because otherwise she would’ve missed the incredible adventures of being a grandma!

 

 

“Spiritually, I believe in God. He has never left me and I’ve never lost my faith in Him and how He’ll always heal me and/or bring me out of whatever situation I need Him to. Even at my lowest and when I couldn’t feel His presence, I knew He was still there and is always there.”

 

 

VERSAFI MAGAZINE:  When you first learned that you were diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder back in 2004, what was running through your mind?

MARGO WILLIAMS: When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2004, instead of the fear and anger that some people feel, I felt relief, and I remember my first thought being, “Thank God it has a name and I’m not going crazy!”

VERSAFI:  Are there different stages or different types Bipolar Disorders? If so, could you care to explain to our readers?

MARGO: Yes, there are 2 types of Bipolar Disorder. There’s Bipolar I and Bipolar II, and the difference between the two are their manic episodes. Bipolar Disorder has two episodes, a manic episode and a depressive episode, and you must experience both episodes at some point in time to be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Also, the manic episode in Bipolar II, which is the one I’m diagnosed with, is called hypomania.

VERSAFI: You stated in your bio that Recovery is Real. What have you done in the past years to start your road to recovery?

MARGO: Recovery is very real. I know this because I am the evidence and living witness that it is. The first step I had to take was to realize and believe that taking the medications I needed to stay well were just like taking my diabetes and blood pressure medications, they were just for a different part of my body, which is my brain. And taking them doesn’t mean I don’t trust God anymore or have faith in Him. When I understood and believed this, I was able to get on my medications, stay on them, and take them consistently; which in turn allowed me to stabilize and take the necessary steps to begin to heal. Not everyone has to be on medication, but I know I do. I was then able to concentrate on going to counseling and doing what I learned there. That’s how my recovery road started, but it took years to find the right combination of medications that worked for me.

VERSAFI: How would you say the recovery process was for you? Any negative emotions involved?

 

MARGO: The recovery process was a long and hard rollercoaster for me. And unfortunately, even though you may be consistently on medication and in recovery, the rollercoaster can start up at any point. But, once things settled and coping skills were on board, I was able to do things I never expected I would be able to do. There were plenty of negative emotions involved. My main negative emotions had to do with people that I expected to be there to help me and my family, especially in the beginning, but instead, they told me the previous things I told you about taking “those meds” and told my husband things like I’m just trying to get attention, when I want to kill myself and end up in a mental health facility. There were also “friends” that used to come talk to me when they saw me before being hospitalized, but walked in the opposite direction when I walked in the room after hospitalizations. Dealing with that kind of stuff as I recovered was hard. Thank God for my husband.

 

VERSAFI: There are a lot of people in this world living with a mental illness or has Bipolar Disorder. What would be the best advice that you can give them to staying positive and living a happy and fulfilled life?

 

MARGO: First I would say, no matter what stage you’re in in your journey and recovery, don’t let go of/forget about your dreams and goals you have planned and/or were pursuing. Even if you have to put them on hold, that’s ok. You can go back to pursuing them when you feel better. Have a list of coping skills that help you feel better; have someone you can talk to when you need to and let them know if you’re needing them to help you solve a problem(s) or just listen to you. If you deal mainly with the depressive episode like I do, you have to make yourself do the opposite of how you’re feeling. For example, make yourself get out of bed and go sit on the couch, if you’re having trouble getting out of bed. Go for a walk or stand outside for a few minutes, if you’ve been inside for days/weeks (prior to corona). Most importantly, at least for me, because we all have a choice, consistently take your medication(s), especially when you feel better, because that’s one reason why you feel better. Taking them consistently, keeps them in your system continuously, giving them the opportunity to do their job and work.

VERSAFI: In present day, how are you doing with your Bipolar Disorder? Has it gotten better over the last couple of years?

 

MARGO: Presently, I’m doing so well as far as having Bipolar is concerned, that I don’t think about it or “feel” it most times. My only reminder most days is when it’s bedtime, when it’s time to take my meds. I do have to be watchful of some things that could easily turn into symptoms, like never leaving the house, which could easily turn to isolating for me. So, this coronavirus has made having this or any mental illness a challenge these past few months. It has gotten better over the last couple of years as far as my symptoms being better, however, a number of tragedies happened. One of my three younger brothers died unexpectedly in 2017 and then my daddy died unexpectedly in 2018, so grieving their losses easily turned into depression for awhile, that I almost couldn’t shake. I even had to have my psychiatrist add an antidepressant to my mood stabilizer to get through it. But, that’s ok and I got through it. I learned what the stages of grief are and I went through them and lived. Other than that, the last couple of years have been surprisingly wonderful, because I also became a grandma of two, a beautiful granddaughter and an energetic grandson.

 

VERSAFI: What are you doing spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically to keep yourself happy?

 

MARGOSpiritually, I believe in God. He has never left me and I’ve never lost my faith in Him and how He’ll always heal me and/or bring me out of whatever situation I need Him to. Even at my lowest and when I couldn’t feel His presence, I knew He was still there and is always there. Praying, reading my Bible, reading and/or writing in my prayer journals, and listening to Christian/Gospel music are things I do to keep me happy spiritually. Mentally and Emotionally, I write. It used to just be poetry and journaling, but now, I write books! I’m officially an Author! My greatest coping skills were always writing in my journal and writing poetry to deal with life and whatever else is going on at the time. This all changed at the end of 2014, when my life started falling apart and my first and longest writer’s block started and kept me from being able to cope by writing my way through. It lasted five years, while I was going through a fatal car wreck with an 18-wheeler, that caused me to have to leave my favorite job as a Certified Peer Support Specialist; going through cancer and it’s treatments; and losing my brother and daddy unexpectedly, eight months apart. But, Praise God, the writer’s block eventually lifted! I don’t do much Physically because I have several mobility issues. So, even before corona, I didn’t go out much except to doctor appointments, church, and maybe out to eat. I do have a goal to be able to go walking around my apartment complex eventually.

VERSAFI: As a Certified Peer Specialist, what were some of your prime duties and tasks?

 

MARGO: Being a Certified Peer Support Specialist was the best job of my life! I was getting paid to do what I loved. You must be someone with lived experience, in this case with mental illnesses, you must be in recovery, and you must successfully go through the certification and pass the exam to be able to get a paying job working with peers that are struggling with a mental illness(es). I worked in a mental health facility, so I worked with peers that were inpatient in the hospital. I talked and listened to them, shared/suggested coping skills or ideas for some, shared my experiences/story with my illness and how to get through the struggle of figuring out medications, etc. I also did presentations at each New Employee Orientation once a month, to explain the importance of Peer Support Specialists and what we do to the incoming psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and mental health workers. I also sat in on morning staff meetings, meetings with the doctors, where I gave my input on my peers. When my position became full-time, I was put in charge of starting the Peer Support Volunteer Program and training them. I also went to conferences and trainings to keep my certification current.

VERSAFI: You mentioned that you are also a survivor of suicide attempts and cancer. How many times did you try to commit suicide?

 

MARGO: I only remember actually attempting to take my life twice, once before being diagnosed and once after being discharged from my last hospitalization. But, what landed me in the hospital eight times was having suicidal ideation. That means I’m suicidal and I have a plan.

VERSAFI: How were you feeling mentally and emotionally during those attempts?

 

MARGO: “Suicide isn’t about wanting to die. It’s about wanting the pain to stop.” Gabe Howard. This resonates with me because my first attempt, I didn’t really want to die, even though I was doing actions that would make me die. I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up until I didn’t hurt anymore, until the pain was gone. The second time I attempted, I don’t remember what I was thinking at the very moment. I remember being fed up in the hospital, so even though I knew I had no business going home because I was still very depressed, I began to do and say what they want to hear to discharge you. I don’t remember thinking about doing it once I got home, I just did it over three days. Then I remember being angry because it didn’t work. I was painfully depressed both times.

VERSAFI: Now let’s get into your book, “Grace in the Fire.” What was the inspiration to write this book?

 

MARGO: “Grace in the Fire” is a God-breathed miracle for me the way it happened. I was actually in a depressive episode that was starting to get pretty bad last summer. A friend and fellow writer of mine sent me an invitation to a Christian writing group on Facebook called Write With Me. They have writing challenges throughout the year and they were about to have a seven day challenge where you write your story or a part of your story in seven days. I felt a pull to join, so I did, hesitantly. I prayed about it because I was still in that five year writer’s block, but God said it’s time, tell Him YES, so I did and the miracle started! I decided to write about my mental health journey and God gave me the title at the end of the fast we did before the challenge started. God was my Grace through that entire tumultuous journey…the fire! It’s my turn to help others that are going through what I’ve been through. I’m reaching down to help my fellow peers up. There are souls attached to this word getting to them and helping them. That’s my inspiration.

 

VERSAFI: This is based on your true story, correct? Is this your first book that you wrote?

 

MARGO: Yes, “Grace in the Fire” is my true mental health story and first published book. I always thought my poetry book that has poems I wrote during that journey in and out of the hospital would’ve been my first book, but now, it’s going to be my second one.

VERSAFI: What do you want your readers to gain from reading your book? Any particular message?

 

MARGO: I want my readers, their caregivers, loved ones, and anyone else that reads my book to know that Recovery is Real and attainable for all of us, even with mental health diagnoses. You can still have a life and fulfill your dream(s). A mental health diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of your life. I Am The Evidence that when the world says you can’t, Faith says you can.

VERSAFI: How can readers and supporters connect with you and purchase your book?

 

MARGO: My readers and supporters can connect with me on my:

Business Facebook:

fb.me/hopespeaks2youandme

Twitter:

@MargoWi68154120

Instagram:

thepinklady68

Email:

hopespeaks2youandme@gmail.com

Purchase “Grace in the Fire”

The Kindle/Ebook version is available on

Amazon.com

Paperback available soon!

bit.ly/graceinthefire

 

 

 

 

This interview has been brought to you by Versafi Magazine. If you are interested in being featured, email theriverzgurlbrand@outlook.com

 

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