Diagnosed at the age of twenty with Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder with schizoaffective episodic delusions, it was not until Grieme’s mental tumble from the living one February, a decade later… that she was not-so-gently shown her path to be a Mental Health Awareness Advocate. Today, she lives to share how she stayed afloat in this ever-cycling existence, and to help others understand they can, too.
It was while she was curled into herself, cradled uncomfortably into the corner of her parent’s couch following a psychotic episode…incapacitated, over-medicated and unable to keep her coveted job as a high school English teacher, that she found her way out of her own hell with a pen and paper. It was all she could do… the first step in a separation from an insidious diagnosis that did not allow itself to be ignored.
Despite the ever-present fog and deleterious effects from prescribed little blue and pink pills, deemed “imagination slayers” by Grieme, she wrote letters. The Letters documented her fall to those she loved and admired, here and gone. As A. Grieme says “with each letter a piece of MYSELF, smothered by rapid cycling bipolar disorder slowly unraveled… detangling the knot that choked the essence of who I am: ME.”
A. Grieme chooses writing, teaching and radio as her creative, cathartic mediums to help others. Her life experience with mental illness, self-medication and almost two decades in education lends A. Grieme’ readers, students and listeners invaluable, empowering, often quirky life advice, braided in a message of hope.
In addition to Paging Dr. Freedman, 2019, A. Grieme is the author of “Dear Prudence” 2009 (the inspiration behind Paging Dr. Freedman) and Motherhood Made ME Get Over MYSELF: A Metamorphosis, 2014, a self-help anecdote based on a blog written during her pregnancy with her beloved daughter.
Grieme’s harrowing look at bipolar disorder (loosely based on her own experience), allows her the opportunity to help, not hide from the so often stigmatized mental illness. Her brutal honesty in the depiction of bipolar disorder and its many faces and manifestations, although sometimes gut-wrenching and difficult to read, is a testament to the importance of transparency to create awareness and understanding.
“In my humble experience, mental illness is as real as a broken bone, and must be treated as such. Although slowly evolving, psychiatry is seemingly STILL archaic. Psychiatric band-aids in pill form are only the tip of the iceberg for a person who is struggling. Simply tranquilizing or quieting the often frustrating erratic behavior inherent in mentally-ill minds with psycho-meds… is NOT the solution. A psychiatrist should NOT be a revolving door that hands out scripts like candy. A psychiatrist should BE all-encompassing compassion, and treat the whole individual. As a survivor, it is my mission to create awareness through my art.
Author | Writer