I apologize in advance for the novel length post here, but I do have 29 years to explain!!!
I was diagnosed with ADD at the ripe old age of 6. Apparently I was hyper or something, maybe I just couldn’t stay on task. I began taking the infamous Ritalin and continued up till middle school when I convinced my mother I could function without it. (One thing to know about those with bipolar, we are incredibly manipulative. Very important to be aware with if you are a parent of a bipolar child. We can convince you of ANYTHING. I was able to do it without even knowing I was doing it!) I wasn’t a big fan of what I thought were side effects from the stimulant…namely that I would sometimes stay up all night unable to fall asleep. In retrospect this was probably one of the first signs of mania.
When I was 13 I began to suffer from heavy depression. I’d sit in my closet for hours contemplating the many uses of a coat hanger…no need to go into details. Luckily I’m a big fat wimp and the thought of pain kept me from harm. I had one huge episode in the 8th grade where someone upset me during gym class and I ran to the bathroom and started crying. My teacher attempted to calm me down, but the bigger the deal she made out of it, the harder I cried. It took at least 4 people, including the principal, to convince me to emerge from the bathroom floor. I distinctly remember one of them saying, “Something is wrong with her. This just isn’t right.” But I was 13, 13 and full of hormones. Whose to say how emotional one can be at that age. What they didn’t know is that I often had these episodes at home, I just didn’t want to tell anyone about it.
Things didn’t exactly improve after that, in some ways it did, but the depression stuck with me. Anxiety kicked in around 15 and by 17 I became suicidal. I’d write notes in my journal about wanting to die and how I wanted to do it. I even sat on the phone one night with my sister and a bottle of sleeping pills in my hand, trying to get her to calm me down. I don’t think I ever really wanted to die, I just wanted to end the pain.
It wasn’t until this past year that I found out my mom didn’t know what to do, so while I was at school she read my journal. (Mortified…there were definitely things in there I like to believe she didn’t see…it’s best if I make myself believe that!) The thing is, I’m not upset about it. It was then that she read my entries about death and realized I really needed help. Even my friends told me I needed help, as did my boyfriend…well ex boyfriend by that time. My one friend even made comments stating she thought I was super manic.
MANIC? Taboo word!!! Manic means bipolar and bipolar means crazy and crazy means I belong in a straight jacket. I would not let anyone give me the title of Manic!
So I may or may not have avoided the specifics about my moods and just shared the parts about depression. (There’s that manipulative thing again…)They put me on Welbutrin and stuck me in therapy. It kinda helped…for awhile..
Then I got pregnant. I was only 19, thus this just pushed my anxiety issues over the edge. I had a baby, I got married, and I fell into the rabbit hole of depression. Unfortunately there was no Cheshire Cat to show me the way out. Postpartum depression walked itself to the top of my ever growing pile of issues and sat it’s fat little tush down as though it was the most important thing ever. I couldn’t take my meds if I wanted to breast feed, and not being able to breast feed made me feel like a failure, not to mention my marriage was a mess. (What marriage wouldn’t be with two 20 yr olds and a baby?)
Shortly after we married I toppled further down. I got to the point where I finally understood why mothers drown their babies. I didn’t WANT to do that…but I understood it. The Bean never stopped crying and my husband and I never stopped fighting. There was no way I was going to bring any sort of harm to my daughter, so I locked myself in the bathroom with only the comfort of another bottle of sleeping pills in my hand. My husband kicked in the door and took them from me. I hated him for it at the time, convinced that I wouldn’t have done it anyway, but who knows.
Things were very rocky from then on. Life was a mess. The depression rarely went away, even with counseling and tons of different meds. But then sometimes, it would disappear all together for short bouts of time and I’d be really happy. Like insanely happy. I was on top of the world. But when I fell, I always fell hard. I blamed it on the meds not working anymore and would try something new.
In the fall of 2007 I experienced one of the lowest points in my life. I had bought a house and it was a disaster. When I purchased the home my job was going well and my credit was on the repair. Things were good. Then my job went downhill. The industry I was in was tanking and we were about to shut down. My commission halved and the bills piled up. Then my balloon came due and the house appraised for $10k less than when we bought it, so nobody would refinance us.
I got a new job, but it wasn’t soon enough to recover from our losses. So that fall my husband and I decided to let the house go and file bankruptcy. I was a failure. At this time I was also the Matron of Honor in my best friends wedding. I was broke and the other bridesmaids were not. I’d spend money I didn’t have, then I’d borrow money I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pay back. I always felt like I was doing a horrible job and trying everything I could to be the best Matron of Honor ever. In the end, I probably ended up the worst.
It all became too much. I was a mess and I was sure my meds weren’t working, probably because they weren’t. So I just went off them all together. Without them the depression increased. I’d sleep for 18 hours a day. I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I drank like a homeless man and I was missing work like crazy. A few weeks after the wedding I got into a huge fight with the bridesmaids and bride and it was like I just broke into pieces. Nothing could fix me.
I no longer had my friends, my house, my credit, any money, and if I kept it up I was about to lose my husband. So after a fight with him one evening, I just packed a suitcase and left. I drove myself to a Mental Health care Hospital and checked myself in. I wanted to die, but I didn’t. I wanted to run away, but I couldn’t. And I wanted to just go to bed and sleep for forever, but we all know that’s not possible.
In the hospital, where I held back nothing, they finally diagnosed me with Bipolar II. They explained why my meds never quite fit the bill and began a new treatment plan. I was put on a mood stabilizer and for the first time in my entire life I felt … well I felt even. I was neither happy nor sad. I just was. I didn’t know what to do with it. All my feelings of failure and hurt were still there, but I could handle it. They were no longer ruling my life. It was peaceful.
Life didn’t exactly get better after that. It’s customary to hit rock bottom first, and I absolutely did. But I did it without landing myself in the hospital again. And I did it with a clear head. It was hard, but I did it.
NOW life is wonderful. I feel like a stronger person for everything I went through. I’m aware of what’s going on and I know when it’s the “Bipolar Talking” in regards to my moods. I can function like a real human being. Granted it takes an enormous amount of effort and maintenance, I’ve learned my lesson and I refuse to end up in the hospital again.