I was diagnosed with depression back in my 20s. There was a relationship that lasted a couple of years and then there was a bad break-up.
I need to be honest.
Back in junior high school, I was depressed. I hated myself. I had thoughts of harming myself. At age 12. Too fearful to tell anyone, the emotions just got stuffed inside.
Somehow, I made it through high school. I didn’t hate myself as badly; was semi-popular but didn’t date. Took a few drinks of alcohol at football games; had a crush on someone who didn’t know I was alive. Graduated in 1979.
Okay, now we can get back to the diagnosis.
After the breakup, my performance at my job as a bank secretary went down the tubes. One afternoon, my boss called me into the office and told me that I was skating on thin ice and that if I didn’t stop the emotional breakdowns, the slamming of phones (the ex and I still spoke) and all of my ups and downs, that I’d lose my job.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, just a month before my breakup, my mom had an emergency hysterectomy and I was taking care of her. And, before I forget this – a couple of months before THAT, my dad had been seriously ill, so I was taking care of him, too. Nothing I could do for either of them was right.
No wonder I was an emotional wreck.
I ended up at a friend’s house that night. She and I worked at the same bank; she was my best friend and I think she saved my life that night because she let me spend the night and she called the hotline and made an appointment for us to see someone the next day at one of the local hospitals.
She walked me through finding a therapist. She listened to me when I cried and screamed and ranted that I wasn’t crazy. My parents both told me that I was crazy and to stop acting crazy and to not tell anyone ANYTHING that went on in our house, because there was nothing wrong with anyone except for me. Please know that I’m not blaming them for anything – they came from a generation where you just didn’t talk about problems of ANY kind.
I met David. He was my first therapist. We had a relationship that lasted many years. He was wonderful. He worked at the community mental health center and at that center, I saw a psychiatrist for the first time. Diagnosis: depression. Situational depression. Okay, made sense to me. The situation was awful. It could go away and I’d feel better, right?
Well, things eventually got better. David gave me the wings to fly away from my parents’ and to move out on my own.
I saw him off and on through the years and into my sobriety (that’s another page!).
I’ve spent time in psych wards and am not ashamed. I’ve had numerous therapists and am not ashamed.
Things went well after sobering up in 1986 and things went up and down for a while. There were periods of really good times and then a few low spells but nothing too dramatic but in the late 1990s I crashed. Big time. Big, big, time.
I ended up in a hospital and my husband wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to bring me home. That was the bad news. The good news was that while I was there, they ran me through a battery of tests and determined that I wasn’t JUST depressed, that I had bipolar disorder 2. Being on antidepressants while you have bipolar isn’t fun…you have to be on the right combination of medications to balance the highs and the lows.
Today I’m seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist and I take my meds. Life isn’t perfect. My psychiatrist tells me that considering all the things going on in my life, I’m doing pretty darned good. I give credit to my sweet husband, my psychiatrist, my therapist, my medications and of course, to God. Without God, I’m not sure I’d have survived this far.
If you need help, please contact your family doctor and/or call your local community mental health center. Don’t let the stigma of mental illness keep you from obtaining the help you need.
YOU are worth it.
Here are a few links with some more information on bipolar disorder and/or mental illness in general:
- Web MD Bipolar Disorder Center
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- The Healthy Place: Where to Get Mental Health Help
- CDC: Mental Health Information Page
Please know that I am in no way, shape or form a mental health professional. EVERYONE is different and I can not diagnose mental illnesses. My page is just my way of sharing my story in the hope that someone may see themselves and reach out to get help. There is HOPE.
I’m a Catholic, so I pray to saints; the patron saint of those of us with mental disorders is St. Dymphna. You can bet I talk to her a lot.