Today is #WorldBipolarDay and I Want to Share My Story

world bipolar day

 

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.

pickmonkey4-11

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!

WorldBipolarDay

 

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.

7 Replies to “Today is #WorldBipolarDay and I Want to Share My Story”

  1. You are truly an amazing person and I am so happy to call you my friend Christine. My husband suffers from PTSD (US Army Veteran) and while it is not the same as bipolar, I know (from the outside looking in) that any mental illness is hard to live with. Always keep a positive attitude and remember that there is always someone who cares and is willing to listen when you need to talk through a rough patch. Thank you for sharing your story!
    Kristi recently posted..Gradsense: Helping Students Set Goals & Plan FinanciallyMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Kristi. I was not going to write this because I get so scared of the stigma that is there. I have wanted to share this on my blog for a long time, but I was so scared of being judged. I was relieved when I had an “excuse” for #WorldBipolarDay. I am so blessed that blogging has brought me some amazing friends such as yourself.

  2. Hi, It’s Sarah from Just A Country Gal blog 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your story. I suffer from Bi-polar, PTSD, & BPD. I too lived a life much like yourself. I’ve had two nervous breakdowns and I’m still on medication today. It’s very hard and it’s even harder when people look at you differently for your illnesses. I still get looks when I’ve shared my story, but then there is the great thing about sharing my story .. seeing people share theirs with me and telling me how my story has helped them. I remember being in a treatment center and me myself needing help I felt I was helping myself by helping others.. id talk people through their hurt and pain and it really truly helped me. I still go through severe depression at times through-out the year, but I like you have a strong husband to help me through it and I also seek God and pray. You are a beautiful woman and you have a beautiful family. God bless you.

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah. I have found helping others is one of the therapeutic things to do for myself, too. I think there is so much stigma surrounding mental illness, especially bipolar disorder, that it’s often hard to talk about, but sharing our stories helps others not feel alone and that is so important to breaking down the walls.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story!! I really believe it helps to talk about Bipolar disorder and how it affects peoples lives. I think you are very brave to share this with your readers, and I thank you for sharing. Mental illness is real, just as any other physical condition. I am so glad that the treatment that you received helped you. There is no cure for any type of mental illness. A person has to get help, take medication, and talk to a therapist so their mental illness is managed. And they need to learn coping skills to help them. I am so glad that you got help!! My prayers are with you!!

  4. Even though you wrote this blog post almost a year ago. This is exactly how my life is now. Daily depressed and not a present mother for my son. Which I hate, it is so hard to live a natural life being bipolar and not wanting to take meds. I haven’t kept a job. Less than a year and now I’m frantic on how to support my family. When my unemployment is gunna run out :/ one day I hope I can finally get help and be better. Thanks for your post

    1. Katie, I am sorry you are in that pit of despair. I know how that feels all too much. I am not a professional therapist or counselor by any means, but I am glad it helped you feel not so alone. Just know that things can and do get better. There is so much life to live for! I wish you much happiness!

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