I am a survivor, a fierce fighter of mental illness. I have a brain disorder known as bipolar. I fight the unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and I never give up. By the time my illness was diagnosed as bipolar, I had tried over a dozen medications and devastatingly lost my job and my friends. My life was no longer flourishing, I had hit rock bottom. Rock bottom meant constant supervision to keep me safe and seeing multiple doctors every week. I was losing hope and it wasn’t until a year after my first psychotic break that I discovered the Oiselle community.


Running. A two-syllable verb that consists of the springing steps beneath you, mile after mile. However, running with bipolar disorder can be hard to understand. The severe mood shifts are a constant chase, a chase to stay level headed. The mania keeps my mileage high and my pace quick. I run effortlessly for as long as I desire without tiring. And when that up comes down, my world shakes. I no longer run effortlessly, I struggle with each step and feel pain with every stride.

At first, I ran as an outlet, but then through Oiselle I found my love of running again. I fell in love with the phrase “Head up, Wings out”. The philosophy is absolutely instrumental to my life; my ups and my downs. I live everyday with my head up and wings out, both in my heart and in ink on my arm. It’s a constant reminder to keep going, keep running and to keep the hope.


After discovering Oiselle, I joined the Volée. It means so much to me to be a part of an empowering team with one shared love - running. I became interested in attending a Birdcamp (a weekend camp with other Volée members). Despite the unknown, I took the plunge and headed to Boone, NC. I didn’t have any expectations, but what I found was amazing. In just a few short days, I bonded with an extraordinary group of women and I was empowered by their love and drive.


Despite life’s ups and downs, running is a constant reminder to keep my head up and wings out. The Volée keeps me motived, and has taught me that no goal is unattainable. Through team camaraderie, I always will have someone cheering me on through life and through running. I am so grateful that I took the plunge.


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Team - Volée
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Allyson Ely