4th Feature Story: Rita and Her Struggle with Bipolar Disorder

I was 19 years old when I first began to experience symptoms of bipolar.  I knew something was wrong with me at the time but didn’t want to believe it.  When I would cycle out of a hypomanic state into depression I called it the “slump”.  My hypomanic phases would last months and l absolutely loved them.  I was making all A’s in college, excelling at work and having a blast in my personal life.  Then depression would strike and my depression wasn’t like a sad depression where I cried or felt sad.  I just became very unsocial, my grades would suffer and work became extremely difficult.  It was more of a cognitive thing like memorization, understanding and processing information suddenly became a challenge.  I saw a few doctors and they all said the same thing- sounds like you might have bipolar.  I was definitely not prepared to accept that as an answer to my “slump” so I continued living in hypomania and depression for 7 years until I had my first psychotic break.

I only remember bits and pieces from my first full blown manic episode.  I thought the radio was personally talking to me.  I had extreme religious delusions.  I thought all my friends and even people on TV were my brothers and sisters and my Dad had fathered all these illegitimate children.  I thought my cell phone was tapped.  I thought I was being stalked by one of my customers at work and had called 911 several times.  911 finally sent cops out to my house and they could immediately see that I hadn’t slept in days and knew I had a chemical imbalance.  They told my Mom I could go to the hospital or jail.  Since I was super paranoid I went with option a, to the hospital I went.  From there I was transported to the first psychiatric hospital who had an open bed.  My first night at the hospital I was sedated and finally got some sleep after days of no rest.  For the third or fourth time I heard those dreadful words from the psychiatrist at the hospital, I had bipolar.  I guess this time there was no running from my diagnosis, it was time to get help.

The next year I fell into a deep depression.  I couldn’t come to terms with my diagnosis.  I didn’t want to believe I needed a pill to live for the rest of my life.  I began to see a social worker and psychiatrist on a regular basis.  Every few months my meds would change and I’d experience horrible side effects.  Nothing seemed to help.  There was no digging me out of this hole I was in.  The time when most of my friends were getting married, having kids and getting promotions- my life came to a complete stop.  I was unemployed and living back at home.

3 years and one more hospitalization later at the age of 30 I’ve finally found a combination of meds that seem to work for me.  I feel they could use a little fine-tuning, but overall I’m doing much better.  I know this is an everyday battle and one I could not fight without the support of my friends and family, especially my Mom.  I’m still a work in progress since I do not have a job and still do not socialize as much as I’d like to.  The difference now versus 3 years ago is I’m no longer embarrassed I have bipolar.  I found a NAMI support group in my area and my first meeting is next Tuesday.  I’m excited to see what that can bring to the table.  I look forward to the day where I can work again, socialize and live life more fully and am very optimistic that is in the near future.

Her story is now on NAMI.

Advertisements

About Michelle Clark Bipolar Bandit

I am a strong advocate for the mentally ill and have been since I was first approached by a lawyer in a psychiatric facility as a teenager. He wanted me to help him fight how the mentally ill are mistreated. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 17 after a full blown manic episode. Before that, I suffered from debilitating depression for 4 years. My goals are to help others by sharing my story and providing tips to deal with mania and depression. I often write blogs related to advocating for people like myself. I want to encourage, inspire, and educate those with #bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses and also include inspirational #quotes. I founded the group Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses and the page Mental Health Advocates United and have several social media sites that are related to bipolar disorder and/or advocacy. If you are an advocate or would like to be, I hope you join our FB group: Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s