I say the beginning because my story is still unfolding. When I originally wrote this I was on my meds, doing wonderfully until a mini-disaster struck…I stopped my medications, which is something I’ve always had a problem with. So there is more to this story, but that’s for a different blog, at a different time.
So my story….it’s about a bipolar woman who struggled to find herself, and still struggles to find herself occasionally…which is just one of the joys of being bipolar.
The story of a girl who’s struggled with being misdiagnosed since she was 14, and has only recently found the right diagnosis, which means she could finally start finding the right meds. The story of a girl who struggled with being a cutter and dealt with anorexia as a teen. A story where staying stable enough to not rotate in and out of the psych ward was a battle that took years to settle between her illness, the ‘real’ her, and the mental health courts.
The story of an unstable girl who had no one to speak for her rights, let alone the ability to speak up for herself, who over time became the woman who no one walks all over and is able to speak up for her needs and desires. This is the story of a woman who cares about those walking this dark, almost unendurable path of hopelessness and despair because she’s walked it too.
This is the story of a girl who once lost everything of value, all within the blink of an eye; her family gave up on her, her child was taken by the courts, she was evicted from her house, she had her car impounded, she lost her job, she lost her clean criminal record, and she lost even the desire to live. Everything of value to her was ripped away.
Over the course of a year, I’d completely hit rock bottom. I had absolutely no where to go but up. I crashed and burned and spent 6 weeks in a psychiatric unit, being watched to make sure I stayed alive. Ultimately, a decision from me had to be made. I had to start trying to live again. Because for the majority of those 6 horrid weeks, I just existed, willing myself to die.
So I did it. It was a small miracle, but I was released from the hospital close to Christmas time. My parents begrudgingly took me in off the streets and allowed me a place to stay. For that, I’m grateful. It was a small, but huge thing that managed to push me back into life. On New Year’s Eve, I reflected on my year, and all that had transpired, and realized that I had just survived what could only be described as sheer hell. It was absolutely the worst year of my life. Knowing that it was going to be all over in only a few short hours had a powerful effect on me. I woke up on New Years Day a new woman. I owned myself again. There were still setbacks, sometimes daily, but I eventually felt better and better more and more frequently.
Clawing my way up; tripping over pebble sized family issues, stumbling over seemingly insurmountable legal troubles, working through horrid rough patches that would set me back so far that giving up would feel like the only feasible option, I survived these trials.
There was the eventual turning point, the huge moment where I knew change had happened . Happiness had become a feeling that I recognized again. I was feeling real emotions for the first time in years and I now knew I wanted to somehow become a worthwhile member of society. I had finally overcome the pain of existence in what had seemed to be a hurtful, cold and meaningless world.
This is the beginning of the story of triumph over my bipolar disorder.
After years of suffering, I finally took ownership of my disorder and completely changed my life around. I went from being homeless on the streets with no rights to her child, no support from her family, and legal problems that would take years to untangle. The story of my life, my new life, was when I began having a life where I truly lived in the moment. I gained a college degree, married a wonderful man, and started life as a stay at home mom to 4 wonderful children. It was a new life of becoming successful and trusting that success could last. It involved acquiring the courage to take risks while knowing I could fail, but still going for it. This is the story of a girl grateful for the new found confidence in her work, and being truly satisfied in the work she produces. This is the story of a girl finally accepting that she has the ability to succeed at anything, all she has to do is put her mind to it.
This is not only a story of difficulty, hurt, suffering, and pain ,but is predominantly a strong story of hope, as well as a story that encourages advocacy, and a strong passion for getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness. This is a story of caring and compassion, with a focus on the importance of volunteerism and service, and of giving back to those who are going through the darkness of mental illness themselves.
Ultimately this is the story of a woman who wants to give back as well, to offer support, to give people hope and to give hope to as large an audience as possible. I wanted to share a story that wasn’t just an interesting read, but also a story that is emotionally charged, hopefully moving, and a story that resonates with everyone who reads it. I want you to passionately feel the emotions that bipolar disorder patients suffer with.
I want you to not just think, but KNOW changes need to be made, and to know, really know and understand who you’re advocating for and why it needs to be done. A story that moves you to contact programs in your community and start doing something NOW. A story that has you contacting your local politician and becoming a voice for the mentally ill in your community.
But ultimately I hope you read a story of hope. A story that you read and after finishing it, feel encouraged that there is hope for the mentally ill, there is treatment that works, and recovery is possible!