This Mental Illness website has so much great information nami.org (National Alliance on Mental Health)
Having a good team of a doctor,nurse practitioner a therapist and good friends and family is helping me to cope with being Bipolar. I am finally learning to know my work limits, medication and outside triggers that help me to stay balanced.
I had three medication changes in February and when it was all said and done, I am back on the same medications and dosages that I was on before the most recent episode. I don’t think that any combination of drugs work completely for a lifetime. There are so many other factors that cause our brain to get out of balance – other unrelated illnesses, diet, exercise and just changes to your bodies chemicals which can fluctuate daily. Medication, exercise, diet and dedication to watching my moods has helped to keep my Bipolar from going out of control most days but there are things that will sneak up and cause my episodes to get bad enough to disrupt my relationships and work. I use to call my depressive episodes “Meltdowns” because I didn’t have a diagnosis or the correct terminology.
- My first meltdown was probably when I was 12. Let’s blame it on hormones… My mom said I cried for almost the entire year.
- The second super meltdown I remember was when I was in 7th grade. We had just moved to Las Vegas and I had to be bussed across town to school. The busses were crowded three to a seat. I was the new kid starting half way through the school year and kids can be mean. One day when I was supposed to go catch the bus, I started to cry and couldn’t stop. I could not deal with riding that bus another day. I did – and I got through it and made friends and life went on.
- My next time was when I was a Junior in High School. I had just started dating a guy who some girls from church accused me of stealing. He asked me out I said yes & I had no idea of his backstory or these girls. They proceeded to make my life miserable and bam another meltdown. I would sit on my bedroom floor and cry uncontrollably for hours and felt I couldn’t go on, but I did.
- In college I had a mini meltdowns while trying to finish my senior year. Fortunately I made it through and graduated with my BA.
- Three years into my first real job after graduating, I was doing sales calls with my manager BAMM – I started crying and didn’t really know the reason why. I loved my job and I had some good friends from the church that I attended. Thankfully my manager who was also a good friend told me I think you need to seek counseling and deal with these stresses and past issues. The counseling helped but I still felt I could no longer handle the job so I transferred to a different position in an office closer to my family – six months later I had to quit my job and move home. Still no diagnosis and no one told me I should seek medical help. They just chalked it up to being in a job that was too stressful to handle even though I had handled the stress just fine for three years. I worked part time and started doing well again, got married and things were good again.
Most of us have times when things are overwhelming and we feel we can’t handle them, but when I had my – what I called MELTDOWNS – my brain started spinning to the point of an Indy Car in a race and I want to hit the brakes but there aren’t any. Then bam I hit the wall and felt like I couldn’t function anymore. My emotions were out of control and I felt in deep despair. Between those meltdowns I had times of great euphoria (manic episode) which felt good and although were just as dangerous – I would have never thought of seeking help.
When I was younger my episodes were not as severe and I was still able to function, but as I look back on my life and compare it to the manic and depressive episodes I’ve had in adulthood, they felt very much the same as they do now when the extremes happen.
I was finally diagnosed in December of 1998, after what was thought of as severe depression after a car accident in January.
Before the accident, I was working full time, raising a 3 year old, leading the Women’s Ministry at church felt great and was just cruising through life or so I thought. I was actually in a manic episode but didn’t realize it.
After the accident, I stopped sleeping well – hardly slept at all – made lists of things to do – was up cleaning house at all hours – started having hallucinations where I felt like I was wrestling with demons ( saw them as real beings) they were trying to hurt my family and kill me. I felt I couldn’t share these hallucinations with anyone and I was having racing thoughts and felt totally out of control but of course my husband recognized something was wrong.
My husband called our Pastor and he recommended I see my doctor. When I started sharing my hallucinations with my doctor she went and got a mental health professional that sent me to the psychiatric department. They gave me Prozac and when I didn’t respond they kept increasing the dosage until I was in the hospital for having suicidal thoughts. I was not getting better. My husband and my mom had to literally get me out of bed to take a shower. I couldn’t care for our puppy so my mom took her to her house. I couldn’t care for my young son and my husband and the babysitter took care of his needs. I could only lay on the couch when my son was there, I would watch him play, I would easily lose my temper with him and feel extremely guilty afterwards but was not able to control my emotions and felt I could not be left alone with him.
I feel like I missed out on an entire year of my life while they were changing my meds without things getting any better. It took from January til December before I found a psychiatrist who asked me the right questions and properly diagnosed that I was Bipolar and held find the right medication cocktail for me. It was a very rough year.
I had a family member that suffered from Mental Illness back in the day when shock treatments were a standard way of treating it. I am not sure which type of mental illness it was but it was a time when mental illness was considered shameful and family members didn’t talk about it. Maybe the shame is the reason that no one was able to admit there was something wrong with me when I was young or maybe it was because my symptoms were not that bad until adulthood. Either way I am so glad that I finally found help.
I didn’t want to share my story because I felt shame. Would people be afraid to be around me like I felt some of my family members were? Would I lose my current job because of the illness? It was a scary thing, but people were starting to speak out on mental illness and taking things public so others who were suffering would see that it was okay to speak up and seek help. The person that so inspires me to speak up about my illness is Maurice Bernard – the actor who plays Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital. He even went so far as to allow the writer to bring his illness into the storyline of his character. He and I are the same age and I can relate to a lot of the things he shares.
After my most recent episode my husband felt the Lord was telling us to share my story because it could help others. We first started by sharing it on our Facebook pages and the response from others who had it or knew people who had it was overewhelming. The support was incredible. As part of my therapy I started this blog to not only share my experiences with Bipolar disorder, but to share – things that I am passionate about Travel, Clothes, Make Up, Worthy Causes, Hobbies, My Faith. I want to thank my friends and family for their support of me through this Roller Coaster ride of life. I am hoping that my balanced state that I’m now in will last for a really long time, but if I have any really extreme Highs or Lows I have a great team to support me.