One month ago I was a student at Choate Rosemary Hall, a prestigious prep school in New England, now I am at home swallowing mood stabilizers and completing credits for my freshmen year on an independent study program.
One month ago I was struggling to remember who I was, now I am happy and at home going to the mall with my friends.
Sometimes I wonder why I went to Choate if I was only going to stay there for one year. But then I realize if not for Choate and the people there I would have never been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at such a young age.
Winter term was one blur of craziness and fun. I laughed nonstop. I loved life. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It was so much better then the depressed state I was used to being in. But, it didn’t last forever. I soon was spiraling into the mania of mixed moods, delusions and mild psychosis.
I always felt since I was very young that I wasn’t showing my full potential, I felt something holding me back. I couldn’t get my thoughts out clearly. I was negative all the time. That something that held me back got a whole lot worse come spring.
I was suddenly an introvert. I hated big crowds. They scared me. I had lots of friends, but I wouldn’t talk to them, they were plotting against me. I had delusions. I always thought I was being followed. I was sad, then happy, then very mad.
I fell behind on my classwork. It was a struggle to go to class. It was a struggle to remember what anything was. I felt like I was living in a foggy nightmare, a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from.
Although, nothing was wrong, I didn’t need to see a therapist. I was perfectly normal because everyone goes through rough patches.
My roommate insisted I get help. She blackmailed me into it. Luckily I obliged.
The first meetings I had with therapists went in circles. I would talk about nothing and everything and eventually come to the conclusion I was ok, and that nothing was wrong.
Then, I went into a dark place, a psychosis, or the beginnings of a psychosis. I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking or what anything meant to me. But I do remember that I ended up in my room cutting myself as my roommate walked in the door, scared and astounded.
She ran to the health center, I ran after her yelling. I then went on a walk. Pacing. Breathing hard. I knew they would come after me, so I went back to my room.
There, sat my roommate and the therapist. I was rushed to the health center and found myself sitting in front of two old ladies, both smiling and helpful. It was a little overwhelming. I told them a mush of information that I can no longer recall, and they told me to spend the night in the health center.
It was the worse night I had at Choate. I just wanted everything to be normal again. Nothing was.
Two days later my mom was called and she flew out on a red eye from California. She had no idea I was suffering. That Friday was the last day I spent as a student at Choate.
I met with a psychiatrist that weekend and he listened to my circling speeches, and diagnosed me as Bipolar 1, with mixed moods. I flew home that Wednesday
The hardest part of leaving was saying goodbye. Goodbye to the dreams, to the friends, and to the old me.
But I was also saying hello. Hello to the future. Hello to a new school with new friends, and new dreams.
I am getting better. It is a slow process filled with dizziness and fatigue, but I feel good again. I no longer talk in circles or yell at people. I am in control again. My disease does not define me. I define my disease.
I feel very lucky that I was diagnosed at the young age of 15, and that I was fortunate enough to go to Choate. I am glad that I can pay for medication and doctors. I know that not everyone is as lucky as me, and that not everyone is getting the help they need. We need to change. To get people help so they don’t suffer.