Growing up with a family that loves me, living what many may call a “perfect life,”and having endless amazing opportunities, one might say that my life is pretty damn incredible. As I go behind the scenes on my so-called “perfect life”, one might be somewhat surprised and confused to see that my life, in reality, was imperfect and horrific at times. Athletics has always been my way of channeling stress, anxiety and obstacles that I have confronted.All was running relatively smooth until the age of 16 (I am now 19), when I was diagnosed with a severe case of Bipolar and OCD. I started to crumble and anxiety was always present. This anxiety began flooding my body with its piercing negative energy and I began to shut everyone and everything out of my life. For a brief period of time, I began to shut down and became uninterested in many things I had previously enjoyed. Athletics and physical activity has helped me significantly in the past by shocking my negative mood and pumping those positive lively endorphins into my body. It has brightened my mood making me feel stronger, happier and more confident about myself. SoulCycle and Crew has helped provide structure, community, and exercise to help channel stress and my roller coaster moods.

I began noticing uncomfortable depressed feelings, anxiety and mood fluctuations that were manifesting in me for the longest time, which later led to Bipolar and OCD. As my illness progressed, my love, drive, and dedication to absolutely everything including food, communication with people and my athletic drive began to fade. I honestly thought I would be stuck in the mud forever. It sure seemed like it. I would wake up to dozens of texts, emails and face-book posts from coaches, close friends, and teachers and just would not pick up that phone. I was terrified and embarrassed to be seen while I was tied up in this horrible state. Laying curled up in a ball crying on my floor, I felt like someone had just broken my heart.

The reality was that everything was actually just pure mood with no connection. Deep sadness and worthlessness would crash on me, like a huge wave crashing on someone who had little time to notice it was coming. Although my drive and motivation was close to none, at the time, I found SoulCycle to be my saving grace and still is a huge part of my life. It feels like home, providing amazing music which fills my soul with pure happiness and joy. A community of people who care and support each other.The energy in that room leaves me feeling confident, happy, and cleansed.

The worst part of this illness was feeling completely out of control and sometimes incapable of achieving my goals. I felt like I was walking through life without emotion, purpose or worth for the longest time. I would have horrific depressive episodes, but would also have manic ones. A manic episode feels as if one is in a happy fairytale having an endless supply of energy. I would write poetry, short stories, and make movies. It was actually amazing. I would also become oddly super social out of the blue and felt like the queen of the world.This feeling was incredible, but knowing that I was going to fall flat on my face was the worst feeling.

Although I went through a period of my life feeling like I was on a terrifying roller coaster, I was finally able to get off. I began to repair my life and heal all of the open wounds. Although it took over 2 years to fully repair and become healthy, happy and confident, I did it! I literally could not have done it without my family, doctors, crew team, SoulCycle and all of my friends. I went through two years of my life in pain, misery and confusion, but if I was to go back and change anything, I honestly would not.

I am a new improved Kat, with so much confidence, love and drive and can finally help people now, because I now know what it takes to get better. I have learned to accept myself as who I am. A little over a year or so, I was head over heals embarrassed about my illness thinking I would suffer my entire life. Guess what?? I am not the only one suffering. I am also now helping teens and young adults who struggle with Bipolar and OCD. I remind them that they are not the only ones out there with this and I share the box of tricks that will put them one step further to conquering and staying in control of this illness, just as I have.

Now I am more than willing to open up about this illness, share my story and remind people that you really can conquer your biggest struggle or fear if you believe in yourself. Believe that you can, you will, you must in order to achieve and live life to your fullest potential. Crew and SoulCycle have helped show me that only you can control how much effort you want to put into something. Sorry to say it, but one doesn’t get better magically or overnight. It does take some time, effort, pain and failures in order to succeed. One piece of advice that I truly believe is extremely important, is that one must love, care and help themselves before even thinking about helping others. Always.