I feel so privileged to be sharing this blog with others through the International Bipolar Foundation, as well as being able to direct you to my personal blog.
Where to start? I thought writing a bio would be easier, but my manic mind right now is thinking…what do I share, what not, what relevant information do folks want to know and lastly, I don’t want to bore folks!
My name is Ashley, 39 years old, and I live right outside of Washington DC in Northern Virginia. I have never been one for change so I plan to be here the rest of my good ole life. I am married to a wonderful man, who also has Bipolar and ADD. No kids but 4 wonderful kitties.
Right from the start, the ADHD was apparent…my mom jokes I jumped out of her womb and took off running down the hall. From the start, I was not the “typical” girl. My hyperrness was out of control. This was during the 1970’s, so ADD/ADHD was just beginning to surface. In 1st grade, my parents took me to a psychologist, and the psychologist diagnosed me with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Which means, I’m purposely trying to ignore authority and I’m on the path to perhaps become an arsonist in the future? I have many childhood scars from this. I think I spent at least ½ my elementary school life with my desk in the hall.
Skip ahead 26 years until now. Unfortunately, 15 years ago I received the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, which happened to be the type of bipolar which is the most difficult to treat. In 1998, three years after initial symptoms developed, the complete diagnosis of bipolar I, mixed state, ultra rapid cycling, with psychotic features was made. Also at this time, I developed an eating disorder, anorexia, and bulimia. I also have OCD, thankfully it is not severe and just on the “it’s driving me crazy,” level!
My bipolar is not a euphoric mania but a dysphoric mania; I become highly paranoid, agitated, and aggressive. In the past, I have experienced psychotic episodes, and when my mania is severe I have a heightening of senses, I see colors brightly, almost in 3-D, noises are very loud, and there is increased creativity. I had 4 suicide attempts.
I have been hospitalized in psychiatric units at least 18 times, two of which were in eating disorder clinics. I once tried to estimate how much of my life was spent in hospitals, and it added up to approximately 3 years!
I’m currently on 9 psych meds. My new psychiatrist would like me to go to the John Hopkins’s Mood Disorder Ward and be “detoxed” from meds. Especially since, I’m on 2 anti-depressants which is a no-no for those with bipolar. I’m so scared, knowing that for the first 2 weeks he stated I would be in an extreme amount of discomfort. I’ll keep you posted as to my decisions.
Again, I look forward to bonding with individuals with mental illnesses, and exchanging information that will help me grow and understand that bipolar is not a life sentence just some speed bumps and potholes in the road!