I’ve been struggling with a mood disorder since the age of 15. It may have been hanging around before then, but 15 is the age that I remember. I experienced two full years of intense emotions and dulled them with marijuana, which was the closest thing to medication I could get at the time. I honestly did not believe that I would live to graduate from high school.
For some reason, I was very resistant to the idea of getting help. I didn’t want to face the fact that something might be wrong with me, and I had it in my head that people would try to “fix” me when I liked who I was. Those years were very dark and difficult. I didn’t like being high all the time, but I was terrified of what would happen if I were to stop. I had constant thoughts of suicide that I numbed with the drugs, and I was worried that they would take over and kill me if I stopped trying to kill the suicidal ideations.
I self harmed and isolated myself. Friends were pushed away as I tried to cope, and I got into a lot of trouble when teachers weren’t looking. Later on, the fact that I self medicated complicated my diagnosis. We couldn’t confirm what was happening to me during that period because I had dulled everything.
I finally started to see a therapist when I turned 17. I’m 20 now. In those three years, I have found that I am stronger than I ever would have thought when I was 15 and 16. I’m completely sober, and through a combination of therapy and self awareness I’ve been able to manage the majority of my disorder by learning to cope naturally. Meditation, yoga, music, writing, art, and crafts are all far healthier than self medication, and they’ve all proven to be more healing in the long term as well. I’m currently seeking proper medication as we approach a more concrete diagnosis, but I am fully aware of what is happening to me and what I need to do to manage it. I also made it to college, which is probably my proudest achievement. I’m going to graduate with two degrees in four years. One of the degrees is a BA in Psychology.
I haven’t made a full recovery by any means, but I have shown myself that my mental illness is not in control of me. It is a chronic disorder. I have the power to manage it. The episodes can cause mayhem in my life and leave me to pick up the pieces, but that is why I am seeking a medication trial and a diagnosis at this point in time. The important thing is that I know my mood disorder is not what defines me. Every little achievement I make along the way, whether it be academic, professional, personal, or social, is monumental to me.
Never be afraid to seek help. You would be surprised at how strong you really are.