For thirty-three years, I served my community by teaching
elementary school students and as an assistant principal
responsible for a population of 500 students and staff. I was
honored to receive recognition and awards for my service, but
those came with a double- edged sword. I wouldn’t have been
able to serve without the help of my psychiatrist and therapist. I
was living with a secret. One that could end my career and
reputation if it was known to the school district administrators,
parents and the public.
Mental illness continues to be unacceptable for many in society to
understand and accept without the stigma of danger and insanity
attached to it. I lived most of my adult life with an illness that sent
me into periods of tremendous creativity and multi-tasking
mastery to episodes of uncontrollable rage in an instant. Finally,
there were the hardest and most fearful times of fighting suicidal
depression. I am Bipolar II, an illness that has no cure and can
take your life or your freedom if you are not diligent about staying
with your treatment plan.
I knew something was wrong from a very young age. Bipolar
Disorder is inherited. I would come to find out that other family
members have it, but only after I was in treatment. It’s not normal
for a five-year-old child’s nightly prayer to include the words,
“God, take my soul to keep tonight. I don’t want to live here
anymore.” My childhood was difficult to say the least. My
memories are preserved in my book The Journey Home: My
journey to find peace of mind and heart while fighting a war
against Bipolar Disorder.
I had to wait to publish the book until I retired. Any parent could
call the District or my principal and say, “I don’t want my child to
be near Dr. Pisani, she’s dangerous,” without any evidence to
prove it. The District, given high profile mass shootings in schools
reported to have been committed by people who were Bipolar,
would have no other choice but to remove me from my position
and put me in another assignment away from children. I couldn’t
risk or tolerate that.
So, I waited until retirement, to serve a larger community in the
same way I served my school community. To educate, inspire and
motivate others to start or stay on their journeys towards peace of
mind and heart.