By: Steven W. Wilson
It arrived out of nowhere. Like a cloud opening, engulfing me in fluffy white nothingness. Descending from above and swallowing me whole. The year: 1958. I was a fourth grader residing in Delaware, Ohio. Overnight I tumbled from a life filled with joy, fun and laughter into a dark, deep hole. I was living but not alive. Always a top student, my grades plummeted. I began to isolate myself from family and friends. I cared little about anything.
That was my first experience with “depression.” Little did I know I would experience it over and over. Always lingering, it was ready to strike on its own terms. One of the reasons I didn’t have a clue what was happening was that back then little was known about “depression.” My parents didn’t understand what I was going through. In fact, they had no idea what was wrong. They didn’t really know I was suffering.
As I look back, I’m positive that’s the way it began for many people. It snuck up on them, never letting go.
My road to recovery began when my diagnoses was changed to bipolar disorder in 1978. After seven years of trying different medications—none of which helped—there was a whole new psych medication regimen to try. Over the course of the next thirty years, as I followed my psychiatrist’s course of action, I overcame many of my symptoms. However, my doctor kept reminding me that there was no cure for bipolar disorder. It would be up to me to continue my treatments for the rest of my life.
Now you might ask yourself, “Why are some people unwilling to receive help from psychiatrists, therapists and medications?” The simple truth is three-fold:
1. It’s too expensive. Many providers don’t accept insurance, including Medicare. Also, most providers have been forced to raise their appointment fees substantially.
2. Psych medications only work for about fifty percent of those suffering from mental illness according to Scottsdale, Arizona psychiatrist Dr. Elena Volfson.
3. Many people who need mental care don’t seek it. They are so miserable they believe it will always be like this for the rest of their lives and nothing will help. They are completely mistaken. There are numerous resources such as one on one therapy plus a host of other therapies including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) sometimes referred to as “Mindfulness.”
It all boils down to the patient. Are you willing to do all you can to deal with bipolar disorder and never give up? If so, you have a great chance of living a full and enjoyable life. As 2023 rolls around I feel renewed. Rest assured, I stumble occasionally which brings on a host of frightful memories, but I recover quickly and move ahead. I’ll always have to be on guard.