I wrote this as a guest post for lily pups life, but she had some difficulty with formatting when she tried to post, so I’m posting it here for her to reblog.
7th grade was the most incredible year of my life. I was making straight As, winning competitions, and involved in a variety of extracurricular activities. I don’t remember a single negative thing about that year, which in hindsight was the first warning sign. The two years that followed, 8th and 9th grades, were a disaster in comparison. My life was going wrong, with family and friends getting serious illnesses and dying. I was plagued by obsessions over wanting to meet my father, and guilt that I would want this when my mother was (to the best of my sheltered knowledge) dying of kidney disease. Depression overtook me, and it lingered for years.
When my grandfather died toward the end of 9th grade, I felt like I’d lost my whole world. My mom, having no clue what to do with me, sought a recommendation from the local Community Mental Health Center and they wanted her to send me for a 3-day inpatient evaluation. She refused, without ever consulting me about it. I overheard her discussing the recommendation with my grandmother, and desperately wanted to tell her that I needed that evaluation, but I felt like she could never know that I knew. Instead she sent me to a private psychologist, which went terribly badly and I saw him only 2 or 3 times before mom decided that it was a waste of her money since I was not cooperating.
Over the next 20 years, I experienced a roller coaster of ups and downs. I’d spend months on top of the world, certain my life was going to work out, then at least as long down in the dumps, certain nothing would ever go my way. I dropped out of college once when I was feeling incredible despite failing my classes. Then I tried college again and flunked out due to severe depression that kept me hiding in my dorm and avoiding the world. Throughout this time, I occasionally attempted to seek help. During that last (and worst) depression, I even took an antidepressant for a while. It just made me unable to sleep or concentrate.
A few years after that latest failure, I pulled my life together and got my first real job. It lasted for 3 years before I was laid off with no explanation, and I fell back into depression. When the depression got bad enough that everything seemed hopeless, I had an epiphany. I could be a TV star. Now, I did major in theatre, so this was not a completely unrealistic dream coming from nowhere, but I should have been a little worried when I started driving places I was previously scared to drive in order to attend auditions where I would inevitably not be cast.
Over a few months, my elated mood grew, and I was convinced that I could see how the dominoes of my life had fallen to lead up to my present situation…and how current events would lead to certain future events which had not yet happened. I still didn’t suspect anything was wrong. Then in mid-January 2014 I found myself not sleeping or eating, racing around my new workplace, rambling incessantly to myself and others, and driving at speeds well exceeding the speed limit. This was when I realized there was a problem.
After a month of this, I stopped feeling enlightened. I felt a deep despair, that everything I thought would work out was actually going to go horribly wrong. All the other symptoms (lack of sleep, racing thoughts, etc.) remained, but instead of being happy I was miserable. A friend called the sheriff’s department to come check on me, and I ended up escorted to the ER for a psych evaluation. All that resulted was an appointment for an intake interview at the same Community Mental Health Center my mom had consulted 20 years earlier.
I saw my new therapist for the intake interview and two subsequent appointments before my mental state reached a crisis point. I walked into that third appointment and told her I was going to a gun show the next day and buying the gun I would use to kill myself. She very adeptly convinced me to suggest to her that she should send me back to the ER. I went, I was admitted to the inpatient unit, and I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder.
This diagnosis was not a surprise to me. I had suspicions for years, and once I reached the point of flying down the interstate I was certain. It was a relief to finally have someone else recognize the problem and help me do something about it. A little over a year has passed since my diagnosis, and after a lot of struggle and three more inpatient admissions, I finally feel relatively stable.