(For a more detailed version of my story: Bipolar Bandit’s Story More Detailed)
My name is Michelle Clark and I started suffering from severe depression at the age of 13. I would just cry and cry for no reason, could not concentrate or do simplest tasks like vacuuming. I would miss two weeks of school at a time.
I had a severe manic episode at the age of 17 that resulted in a hospitalization. It was during the month at the hospital that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
I was always a good student and high achiever. After missing two weeks of school, I would make up all my work in 2-3 days. It is now thought that those were mini manic episodes that enabled me to do that.
I got mainly A’s in school, was the president of several clubs in high school and graduated from college with a degree in elementary education. I was the manager of a movie theater, a trainer at Walt Disney World, and taught school for about ten years. I was even named Teacher of the Year in 2004. I am not telling you about these accomplishments to brag, but to make you realize that eventhough I had this mental illness, I still was able to achieve a lot.
I have been hospitalized more times than I can count. Although most of the time it was for psychiatric reasons, I was also hospitalized several times for ailments that were thought to be caused by the medications I was on for bipolar disorder. I had pancreatitis, my gall bladder removed, numerous stomach problems severe enough for hospitalizations, tardive dyskenisia, heart problems bad enough to put me in icu, and dystonia. The worse being dystonia when my chin was “stuck” to my chest for about four months. I was really lucky that this was not permanent.
After being in the hospital for various reasons 16 times in one year, I was forced to stop teaching and go on disability.
I have always tried to fight for the rights of the mentally ill. I also am on a mission to fight the stigma of mental illness. I have written numerous letters to politicians trying to change the way those who have mental illnesses are treated.
I fight the battle every day. I mainly stay somewhat depressed, but am mostly worried about the manic episodes. I keep fighting the fight although some days it seems hopeless. I have a strong support system, a loving family, and a strong faith, and am determined to rise above this illness. These things help me every day.
I would love to share your story. Please send me a message to my Facebook Page
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Don’t Quit poem (Author Unknown)
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
– Author unknown