Saturday, March 19, 2016

My Sixteenth Summer: The Year I was Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

I've never really written about how I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. So I thought I'd share my story from the beginning:

My Sixteenth Summer: The Year I was Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

The thoughts had been torturing me for days now, spinning around in my head over and over again. Most of them didn’t make sense, at least, not to anyone else. I knew what they meant and I knew what I had to do. I had to write them down, because they were important. So very--wait what was I thinking about again? Oh well, it doesn’t matter, nothing really matters actually. I don’t really care what people think anymore which is a relief.

My best friend is looking at me like she’s afraid of something, of me. I don’t know why. I’m just trying to tell her something. She says I’m acting differently. It’s hard to concentrate on what she’s saying. My mind is starting to zone out again as the thought start circling back. I try harder to concentrate, and suddenly I’m angry, very angry. I hear myself telling her if she doesn’t want to be friends anymore that’s fine, just fine. My voice is shrill in a pitch I’ve never heard before. It doesn’t even sound like me. I see her eyes go wide as she gets up to leave.

I’m left alone in the hallway. It was the last day of school. The last day of tenth grade. A horrible year. There had been weeks when I would feel as though I needed to leap out of my own skin. An itch I couldn’t get rid of. A hunger that was never satisfied. I became obsessed with certain things. Honey buns, a food I never even liked, suddenly I couldn’t get enough of them. I gained weight, and I gained it quickly. Luckily I was quite thin, so the weight gain didn’t cause too much alarm. But I was hungry, so hungry. I’d wake up at two in the morning starving as though I hadn’t eaten all day. Something was wrong, but no one  wanted to say what it was quite yet.

At thirteen I was diagnosed with anxiety and later depression. I had been having panic attacks every month for a week when I was twelve. This lasted for a year, until I was finally put on an anti anxiety medication. Things were good for a little while, although I had bouts of depression as well.

It wasn’t until I was sixteen that things began to go a little haywire.

Then, that summer, during a particularly bad period of depression, I cut myself. I remember going into the bathroom and getting out a razor, thinking if I could just feel something, anything, maybe it would “release the pain” I was feeling inside. I was numb and been for at least a week. I cut across my right wrist, twice, and then the crook of my elbow, twice. I remember being angry when the cuts barely bled.

I hadn’t wanted to kill myself, but I did want to feel something, even if that feeling was pain.

My mother noticed later that evening and I made up the excuse that the cat had scratched me. Later they took me to my therapist and then my psychiatrist, who after hearing about my erratic behavior finally diagnosed me with bipolar disorder type 2. He put me on a mood stabilizer and continued my anti anxiety medicine.

Eight years later, and several severe manic episodes later, I switched doctors because I was no longer stable. My first visit with my current psychiatrist was when I was in a manic and almost psychotic state of mind. She immediately recognized that I had not been properly diagnosed and re-diagnosed me with bipolar type I. She slowly weaned me off of my anti anxiety medicine which was doing more harm than good, and added another mood stabilizer as well as raising the dose of my current mood stabilizer. Later I was also given a very low dose of an antidepressant when my depression was still not lifting.

I have been doing very well over the past two years. I’m happily taking care of myself and doing what it takes to remain stable. Writing about my illness has been something that I find to be very helpful in more ways than one. I hope that sharing my story will help not only people living with bipolar, like me, but also help people understand what it’s like. I hope to show that people with bipolar disorder are just everyday people trying to live their lives. Living with bipolar disorder is hard sometimes, but really it is about taking care of yourself, and everyone should be taking care of themselves whether they are living with an illness or leading a healthy life. We all have our struggles in life, and this is just one of mine.

Thanks for reading!

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