As a child, I was always very hyper and recognized that I was different from many of my peers. It wasn’t until the first couple years of high school that I started suffering from depression. I did not recognize that what I was feeling wasn’t normal and I told everyone I was fine. My family and others probably assumed I was okay because I was continuing to work hard and achieve a lot for someone my age.
In college, I was a varsity swimmer, co-captain of the team, double majoring with a minor, working as a tutor, a lifeguard, and proctoring for our team study halls, and somehow managed to not only graduate early, but graduate magna cum laude with multiple endowment awards. During this time, my family had many personal obstacles we were overcoming, I had a double surgery on my shoulder resulting in my retirement from the sport, I was abusing pain medications, and I was battling (and ignoring) many undiagnosed bipolar episodes that impacted not only myself, but those around me.
I managed to get through college without too many consequences. I lost friendships and relationships, but it wasn’t until after college that I had started making big decisions that put my safety at risk. I continued to abuse drugs and alcohol, couldn’t find any solid work, and was in a very vulnerable place. I met a man on the internet and moved in with him halfway across the country only months later. I found myself in a mentally and physically abusive relationship that I luckily escaped a few months later. For a moment, I had no money, no job, no friends, and could not see any future for myself. I hid the truth of those last few months from everyone in my life.
I found a full time position utilizing my degree in a city one state over from my family. I experienced many more episodes and finally scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist in 2019, where I was diagnosed with Bipolar II and anxiety.
The last 3 years have been a rollercoaster of trying to find the right treatment and unlearning many of my behaviors. I am now working full time at a university as a designer, I attend a support group twice a week, I am building a foundation of friendships, and I am happy with my life.
This is my story. It feels so far in the past and almost feels like an entirely different person lived those experiences. But it has brought me to such a healthy and happy place, that I feel truly grateful for every second of my story.