Linea and Cinda Johnson
Adversity: Linea (left) diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 19; Cinda (right) faced challenge of parenting a teenager with the disorder
Advocacy: The mother-daughter team co-authored “Perfect Chaos: A Daughter’s Journey to Survive Bipolar, A Mother’s Struggle to Save Her”
“Advocacy has been empowering and has given me the confidence to accept my diagnosis. I’m empowered to speak up for my rights, to know that I deserve to feel better and that this is an illness I can live with – that I am not a victim.”
“I’ve become more insightful and more accepting, and doing this work has allowed me the opportunity to reflect and be stronger going forward.”
At age 19, four years after symptoms first emerged, Linea Johnson was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In addition to the disorder, Linea was dealing with issues related to perfectionism. She spent her early 20s struggling with depressive suicide ideation and self-medication while also seeking treatment and proper medications. “I didn’t want to accept the diagnosis and I was trying to find ways to forget about it,” Linea explains. Throughout the process, her mother, Cinda, was at Linea’s side, learning to parent a young adult with bipolar and dealing with the new reality the diagnosis meant for her family. “You have these plans, and everything changes and that is an adversity in addition to the initial crisis,” Cinda says. “I was dealing with the new reality and the changes a family goes through.” Together, mother and daughter began a head-on battle with mental illness.
The two joined forces to write and publish “Perfect Chaos,” a raw and open-eyed memoir of their battle with bipolar that presents what it means to have the disorder and what it takes to live with it. Their inspiring journey addresses the stigma associated with bipolar and describes how their close-knit family faced its fears and worked toward wellness. In addition to publishing their book, Linea and Cinda speak internationally, describing their experience and advocating for access to mental health care as a human rights issue. They are also avid volunteers for a number of brain disorder organizations. “People do live well with mental disorders, so our message is that we need additional services and that people need to know where to find help,” Cinda says. “The other piece is being open and transparent about our story, which ultimately is a story of hope,” Linea adds. “I saw what the real mental health system was like, not just the privileged version, and that has helped me with my advocacy the most.”