World Bipolar Day
*Take a deep breath*
I want to share with you, my wonderful readers, about an awareness day that is close to home for me. It is World Bipolar Day. This is a day set aside to bring to light the illness of Bipolar Disorder and end social stigmas surrounding it.
Bipolar Disorder is very close to home for me because I, myself, suffer from it. Pretty severely at one point and I still suffer from some of it today. People who know me well know the path of devastation and destruction it used to leave in it’s wake for me for many years. I am going to be brave and share with you what I have been through in an effort to be as real and raw as I can in the hope that one person out there online will read this and find hope when they feel like there is none.
I was first placed in an inpatient care facility at the age of 14. I had depression so bad I thought about suicide almost every day. I would call my mom from school, nearly every day begging to come home in tears because I just couldn’t cope with it. This was first thought to be brought on from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) from a sexual assault I suffered my 8th grade year. Although I am sure that was what triggered it, I did eventually get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at the age of 19 after numerous hospitalizations for suicide attempts and threats.
As a young adult, I did not properly care for my illness and this led to destructive behavior such as drinking, promiscuity and at least a dozen hospitalizations-two while I was pregnant with my now 11 year old daughter.
As the years went on, I started to get psychosis and would hear, smell and see things that were not there. I would be tormented by thoughts of suicide, death and my own funeral. I had voices in my head telling me to hurt myself and end it all. I went weeks without a shower or changing my clothes or even coming outside. No matter what medication or therapy I tried, I never got any better. Some of the meds made it impossible for me to even function. I even went as far as to get injections of very strong anti-psychotic medications that made me sleep for 3 days in a row after taking them. I quite countless jobs, was let go of many others and was homeless a couple times because of my own actions due to untreated mental illness.
The most devastating part of all of this was at one point, I was unable to care for my child. Thankfully, My mother took on that role. I still saw her on weekends and holidays, but it tore me apart knowing that I was failing as a mother and that made my depression worse. I would still daily think of suicide. I actually used to think she would be better off without me as her mother and that fueled my depression and suicidal idealization.
My precious daughter as a toddler.
Then, I met my husband. He was truly a gift from God. He was strong where I wasn’t. He encouraged me, helped me grow and picked me up when I fell down. I started seeing a therapist by the name of Ty and he was also a great catalyst in helping me have the strength to get well. I had seen other therapists before, but Ty is so different. He has a calm soul that really makes a person feel like they can overcome. I felt a friendship there, and that really gave me so much strength in my darkest hours.
You see, there was a time when I felt like I had nothing to look forward to. I felt much older than my years and honestly just tired. I felt useless and like I would never amount to anything.
Ty and my husband encouraged me to seek what is known as electro-convulsive therapy. In layman’s terms, it’s “Shock Treatments“. After much consideration, I chose to do it. My husband and I left on short notice to make the 3 1/2 hour drive to Spokane, WA, where I now reside because that was the closest place to me that did this treatment. After about a week and 1/2 of treatments, (that are nothing like in the movies or the old days..I was asleep under general anesthesia for them) I returned home (I don’t remember much of anything about this time period or the months leading up to it or a couple months after. ECT gives you both short term and long term amnesia as a side effect.).
The ECT was the miracle I needed. I got the treatment almost 3 years ago and right after, I started my blog. I originally started Saved By Grace just to have something to do at home and little did I know that between the ECT and this blog as well as God’s healing, I would find what life was all about. I no longer struggle with daily suicidal thoughts or feelings of harming myself. Do I still get depressed? Yes. I do, but I feel like I am able to recover from it much quicker than I was able to before. I can cope better. Do I think I can return to a “normal job”? No, I don’t think I am quite there yet. What most people don’t see, is, I still have quite a bit of anxiety and quite a bit of emotional pain I still deal with and although I am eons away from where I once was, I am still not recovered fully.
I am however, happy to be alive every day and to me, that is the biggest step to success and joy that I missed out on for so long. And I have my daughter living here with me, full time and I am able to feel the joy of being her mother full time. So, if you are suffering or know someone who is, there is hope for you. I am a testament to that. Please don’t give up.
What you have heard about bipolar is not always true- you CAN love life and you will not always feel this way. And, your illness does not have to define you. YOU are so much more than a person with bipolar disorder!
Ps. Thank you to all the wonderful people I have been blessed to have in my life. Your kindness, understanding and steadfastness has kept me alive. Some of the things I did and said over the years have hurt you and for that I am sorry. Just know that I am getting better and you helped make that happen.
Great, now I am crying.