Author: Elizabeth Horner
I debated on whether or not to share my story for a very long time. I’d swing back and forth like a pendulum; feeling like I should just own who I am and throw myself out there one day and then revert back to the very private person I usually am the next. As a result, I ended up holding back and remaining silent rather than reaching out and sharing my experience. So in light of personal growth for all, allow me to share my story.
I was about 16 when the symptoms first began. I stopped sleeping. Sometimes I’d be up for days without so much as an hour to get me through. My mind raced so horribly fast that I could barely organize a single thought. To cope with this feeling of the world not spinning as fast as I was, I began feverishly writing pages upon pages of poetry all night long until it was time for me to “wake up” and go to school. I started imagining plans to build businesses and make millions of dollars or perhaps I’d just flee the country. After a while these thoughts became more bizarre and I thought I could control other people with my mind. Eventually, I began hearing a voice at night calling the name of an angel who I knew was coming to lead me on a spiritual journey. My brain was like a huge boulder rolling downhill, gaining speed and momentum with each second and nothing was able to slow it down. In later years, I’d abuse drugs and alcohol in an attempt to curb how fast everything was spinning. Not only was I no longer in control of my life but I felt that I could barely hang on for the ride.
This high would ultimately be followed by a crippling depression. I’d withdraw, sleep all day, and fall into a deep pit of hopelessness. I contemplated suicide daily – the only question being whether or not I was brave enough to pull it off. These cycles continued for years until I finally managed to drag myself into a psychiatrist’s office, knowing I likely wouldn’t survive another depressive episode. I was 19 years old when I was diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder. With the help of supportive doctors and therapists, I was able to get stabilized on a medication regime that has allowed me to get to where I am today. A wife, mother, nurse, and now advocate.
When I was first diagnosed, I had no idea what was happening to me. I was scared, angry, and felt very much alone. I’m now trying to give back to the community what I never had – someone who says, “It’s okay. I see you. You’re not alone.” I’m trying to give anyone who needs it a nonjudgmental ear and understanding heart. I’m trying to show people that you can make it through some very deep, dark places and still live a life worth celebrating.
My struggle is far from over. Living with bipolar is something that feels very much in my face every single day. This is a life-long condition and I will always have to work closely with a doctor for the rest of my life. But for all those who are feeling alone today, I’m with you. I’m asking you to celebrate what’s messy, uncensored, and raw. We can be brave and share our stories. That’s what raising awareness is all about.