...it pours. Or at least it does in my case. I bet it does in a lot of cases out there. I wish I could meet each and every one of you and give you the biggest hug.
You are here
"I feel fantastic!"
"Life is so good!"
"Look at how well I'm doing!"
Have you seen a status like this on Facebook or Instagram and felt revulsion toward the person who wrote it? Believe me, I've been there.
For many people, wellness means that life couldn't get any better, and is skyrocketing. But for those of us with bipolar disorder, wellness is different. Sometimes it's remembering to take our meds. Sometimes it's remembering to shower. Sometimes it's taking a look at what's been going on and saying "Am I headed to mania/depression?"
In the throes of my bipolar depression and psychosis, all I wanted to do was die. This has happened multiple times in my life. I have attempted suicide multiple times. I was sure that the only way to relieve the stress on my spouse and family was to end it all. I had multiple plans, and the assuredness of mind that this was best. What I didn't see was the little things. The things that ultimately matter most. I don't have much money, and I don't drive fancy cars or live in a mansion. The small things saved me.
I call you dearest because I know you don't believe it about yourself, but you are dear to so many. Right now, at 19 years of age, you want to cease existing, and you're trying to figure out how. I want to tell you to STOP. Stop and look around you. Stop and feel the softness of your blanket. Stop and look at the pictures surrounding you. Stop and hear the beautiful music playing from your Walkman (remember when you used those?). Go to the kitchen and find something delicious Momma made for supper to taste.
I need to write you a letter of thanks. Though we’ve swapped emails for years with snarky jokes and little life updates, it’s time I thanked you. Truly.
I was a soprano who smoked constantly, swore all the time, and wore inappropriate clothing to my auditions. Yet you saw someone who could do something, who could make something of herself. You saw me.
When I was 20, I was sexually assaulted. The details of such an incident are my own, and not anything of any use in a blog post, but they caused a condition called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. PTSD is found in the DSM-V, and many who have lived a trauma are diagnosed with the condition.
I first knew there was something different about me when I was about 7. I kept my mouth shut, as I was the oldest of 4 kids, and mom and dad had many things to take care of. I could feel my body shift into moments of extreme anger, sadness, or happiness. Whenever these moments "leaked out", my family would attribute it to my "dramatic and theatrical nature". It's no wonder I went into opera performance as a career.
I am 37 years old. I have battled symptoms of bipolar disorder since I was a child, and was diagnosed when I was in my early 20s. Essentially, I have endured and tried to “fix” this disease, even cure it, for 30 years.
When I was in my 20s (I'm 37 now), my bipolar depression got so severe that the docs decided it was time to try ECT, Electroconvulsive Therapy. In the old days, they called it “shock therapy”. The premise is sound: if you cause a 10-60 second seizure in the brain, in at least 10 consecutive treatments, certain biochemicals “right” themselves and those suffering from extreme depression feel better. There is still a cloud of mystery surrounding why the treatment works, but I was willing to try anything.