I don’t remember my childhood. No amount of therapy or medications have found out why.
Memories pick up in sixth grade, when I screamed to my bullying classmates, “If it wasn’t for my mother, I’d kill myself.” Out of the abyss of my childhood, I can vividly remember the shaking terror, the tears streaming down my face, huddling in the gym locker room and racing out after dressing to hide away in the bathroom before having to go to science class…where my classmates refused to let me handle the plastic knife while making clay models of volcanoes. I remember the texture of the red clay, of hating myself for screaming my secret. I remember getting called down to meet with the school nurse.
I remember walking home that day, dragging my feet down the dirt road, knowing a crying mother awaited me at home.
Years of therapy followed. Years. No medications; my parents wanted me to “learn healthy coping skills.” The coping skills I learned were self-harm and restricted eating.
This went on through high school. My parents relented on the medication front. Many were tried…but they hadn’t discovered yet: I’m bipolar. And all the antidepressants did were make me worse. Much worse. I spent the majority of my senior year manic.
Multiple suicide attempts later…a psychiatrist finally put me on a mood stabilizer.
Things finally started looking up. I got into college. Finally managed to regulate my eating, stopped engaging in self-harm around my sophomore year.
Things tanked after graduating from college, though. Drug and alcohol abuse probably didn’t help. Nor did the six psychiatric medications I was taking, most of which didn’t work and simply created side effects that were a living hell. My social anxiety escalated to the point of agoraphobia. I refused to leave the house. I started dissociating during my panic attacks.
Finally I checked myself into a psychiatric unit, when my psychiatrist refused to change my medications. Finally things started to improve. Finally my meds got sorted out. I learned about a program called the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), which changed my life.
That was almost two years ago now. Things have not always been easy sailing. I have been back in the hospital once. I will always have my struggles. But now..at least most days..I know that I will get through whatever mood swing is afflicting me, and I will return to some semblance of stability. Now, I am finally living on my own. Now I am managing to work a full-time position. Now, things are finally looking up. Now, things are finally get better. And now…I know I’m not alone. And neither are you.