My Story

Welcome to my blog! My name is Nicole, and Navigating Darkness is my personal blog where I write primarily about mental health, mental illnesses, and mental health advocacy. I have been blogging since January of 2011 and it’s such a great outlet for me. I have met so many wonderful people during my time as a blogger and I am extremely grateful that I decided to start a blog of my own.

My blog first started out as a standard mom blog. I would write about various things related to parenting, and I even posted the occasional craft or recipe. I still enjoyed blogging, but it felt less enjoyable and more like a task that I felt obligated to complete. Something was missing. I eventually realized that I was trying to be like the other mom bloggers instead of being my true self.

In March of 2018, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, depression, and anxiety. Shortly after I was discharged from the hospital, I re-branded my blog and decided to write exclusively about mental health after navigating through the hardest and darkest struggles I’ve ever had to experience with my mental illnesses. At first, I felt so alone, but it soon became my personal mission to start spreading as much awareness as I can so that others can know that they are far from alone.

This also lead me to the realization that I want to help others as a career. In October of 2018, I decided to pursue a career as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, or PMHNP. I hope to use my experiences and struggles with Bipolar II Disorder, depression, and anxiety to my advantage so that I can help other people who are also struggling with debilitating mental illnesses.

My mental health

In March of 2018, after a very tearful and uncontrollable breakdown during one of my shifts at work, I called in “sick” every day for about three weeks. Not because I was embarrassed, but because I literally could not function anymore.

I held off on seeking professional help for a while to see if things got better, as I knew we could not afford less income coming in and more debt from the hospital bills. Things definitely didn’t get better. I admitted myself to the hospital shorty after that, after experiencing 2 to 3 weeks of almost-daily suicidal thoughts. It was miserable and it had gotten to the point where I was so debilitated that I couldn’t work or take care of myself.

I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and anxiety by the psychiatrist I saw during my hospital stay, but I was subsequently diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, depression, and anxiety on August 29, 2018.

If you’d like to read more about my mental health struggles and hospitalization, check out the post I wrote that details how I first spoke up about my mental health.

My interests

I’m most passionate about mental health advocacy and blogging and writing.

I love cats, sunflowers, rainbows, rain, and video games. Some of my favorite music artists include We Came As Romans, Palisades, Crown the Empire, Asking Alexandria, Bring Me The Horizon, Memphis May Fire, and Linkin Park. I don’t really have a favorite movie, but Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Big Bang Theory are my two favorite shows.

Website design, graphic design, and social media marketing have all been my hobbies for fifteen years. I love collaborating and working with brands because it allows me to try new products and share my experiences with them. Some of the brands that I have had the pleasure of working with are Stouffer’s, Nestle, Nutrisystem, Purex, Covergirl, Nature’s Sleep, Hoover, Crest, Gorton’s Seafood, Almondina, The Organic Face, PrestoPhoto, and BeautyFrizz.

If you’re interested in reading about my features, acknowledgements, and honors, please check out My Honors page.

About our family

Nicole and her husbandMy husband and I live in the Southern U.S. with our five tabby cats and two parakeets.

We have been married for three years and have been together for a total of four. We met online, and we loved talking to each other so we decided to meet in person. He came over to my apartment and we played Monopoly and watched one of my favorite Disney movies, Mulan. I knew we had a connection that day.

We both love video games, superheros, and the same type of music. The TV shows that we have enjoyed watching together are The Deed, The Walking Dead, Impractical Jokers, and Mr. Robot.

We are both pescatarian (semi-vegetarian) and lactose intolerant, so we’re on the never-ending quest to finding easy recipes that fit our working lifestyle. When we come across some good ones, I intend on sharing them on my blog, in a new “Recipes” section.

We will both be full-time students when the year 2019 comes around. My goal is to pursue a career as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), and my husband will be pursing Radiology.

Our cats’ names are Dexter, Missy, Loki, Jinxie (but we call her “Little Bit” or “Bit”), and Stormy.

Dexter is our oldest male tabby cat. We adopted him in November of 2015, and he is the first of our kitties that we adopted. His birthday is on August 30, 2015.

He has a beautiful orange coat, and he is very sweet and laid back. We call him our “chill” cat. He absolutely loves Temptations cat treats, and his favorite flavor of food is tuna. He loves to keep us company whenever we’re watching TV in the living room, but he also has moments where he’ll sneak away and take a nice little cat nap on our bed.

Missy is our oldest female tabby cat. We adopted her in May of 2016, and she is the second of our kitties that we adopted. Her birthday is on March 26, 2016.

She was really playful in the pet store so we just had to have her. We thought it was a good idea for Dexter to have a buddy while we were at work during the day. We call her “Prissy Missy” because she absolutely loves it when we pet her. So much so that she’ll head bunt our hands and nudge her head under them so that we will pet her. She’s a sweet girl who loves cat treats, chicken, and lettuce.

Jinxie is our rescue kitty. In middle or late 2016, I saw a Facebook post advertising a free kitten. She looked like a little gremlin, but she was adorable. She was the third cat that we adopted.

She was sneezing and had watery eyes when we picked her up. We also noticed that small patches of fur were missing around her whiskers and on the heels of her back feet. I took her to the vet to get her a check-up, and it luckily cleared up after a couple of weeks on an antibiotic.

We call her “Bit” because she is small for her age. She’s half Abyssinian and half Mackerel tabby. I love her coat because her legs are the only parts of her with stripes. I call her my sweet, precious girl. She loves to cuddle me, especially when I go to bed, and she knows just when to cuddle me when I’m having a depressive episode.

Loki is our youngest male tabby cat. We adopted him in December of 2016, and he is the fourth of our kitties that we adopted. We aren’t sure when his birthday is, but he was about four months old when we adopted him so we estimate his birthday to be sometime in August of 2016.

Loki has white socks (paws) and a quirky personality. He likes to be off by himself, but he also loves attention when he’s in the mood for it. When he comes and hangs out with us, he’ll rub all over our legs to get our attention.

Out of all of our cats, he sleeps in the funniest positions and places. I caught him sleeping in my crock pot one day, haha!

Stormy is our newest and youngest female tabby cat. We adopted her in June of 2018, and she is the last and final (according to my husband, lol) cat that we adopted. Her birthday is in March of 2018.

We were not intending to adopt a cat when we went to the pet store that day. We were looking at some kitty towers but we stopped to see the kitties first. We were hesitant on getting a fifth cat. My husband and I stood there and talked about it for a while.

While we talked, we saw that Stormy had a watery eye, similar to the way Bit’s eye was. Shortly after, we noticed that one of the other kittens kept hitting on her eye with its paw. Stormy just laid there, looking so defenseless. The other cat didn’t let up even though Stormy didn’t want to play. I have an incredibly huge soft spot for animals so I was literally tearing up. Needless to say, we took her home.

If you would like to get in touch with me, including inquiries relating to a collaboration, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

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