A lot of stigma haunts mental illness. Sometimes, it is even worse after a person receives a diagnosis.
Every time that someone uses their platform to educate others and share their story, they effect positive change.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey alum Jacqueline Laurita’s daughter, Ashlee Malleo, has grown a lot since her reality TV days.
Now, she is opening up about her bipolar disorder diagnosis, and what it means to her.
31-year-old Ashlee posted a lengthy caption on Instagram this week.
“Over time, I’ll probably speak more on this,” she prefaced.
“For now,” Ashlee acknowledged, “Instagram only allows the captions to be so long lol.”
“You may not think that I have had many difficulties in my life,” Ashlee suggested, “but I have.”
“These last two years have been especially difficult for me,” she admitted.
“About almost a month ago,” Ashlee revealed, “I had a psychotic break.”
Ashlee recalled: “I found myself in a position where I was afraid of myself and my own thoughts.”
“And,” she shared, “I chose to finally seek proper help.”
Ashlee pointed out that “I took a short break from social media as well.”
“During this process of seeking help, I was diagnosed with bipolar II,” Ashlee announced.
“I made the personal choice to begin medication right away,” she shared.
Ashlee made this choice “as I truly feel that I had tried everything else up to that point.”
“I think I have been in denial for a very long time about this diagnosis,” Ashlee confessed.
“However,” she countered, “I was also never properly educated about all of the other aspects of having bipolar.”
Ashlee noted: “I was so used to hearing bipolar being used as a negative adjective to describe someone.”
“I always thought it was just something related to mood swings,” Ashlee admitted.
In reality, she explained, “It is SO much more.”
“And,” Ashlee discovered, “a lot of things in my life started to make sense.”
“It was actually a relief to finally have an explanation for certain things,” Ashlee expressed.
“It has been empowering for me to learn more about it,” she shared.
“And,” Ashlee then wrote, it has been empowering to “take back control.”
“I am not ashamed of my diagnosis,” Ashlee declared triumphantly.
“And,” she affirmed, “I will not allow anyone to try to make me feel ashamed of it.”
Ashlee then warned: “I will also not allow anyone to use my diagnosis as a scapegoat to treat me poorly.”
“I see bipolar disorder as the gift of extraordinary emotions,” Ashlee opined.
“It has given me a level of resiliency that I very much needed growing up,” she praised.
Ashlee added: “It has made me capable of withstanding whatever obstacles the Universe throws at me.”
“I am strong,” Ashlee appraised.
“It has contributed to me being imaginative, empathetic, adaptive,” she wrote.
“And,” Ashlee continued, “it’s definitely contributed to my great sense of humor in some way.”
“This is just yet another chapter of my life,” Ashlee summarized.
“I’m curious and hopeful to see where I’ll be a year from now,” she expressed.
Ashlee then characterized that “Life is a journey full of ebbs and flows.”
“Keep going,” Ashlee encouraged. “Be proud of yourself.”
“I think it’s important for us to speak about all of our individual experiences,” she noted.
“So,” Ashlee concluded, “that we can help break down the negative stigmas surrounding mental illness entirely.”