My name is Rebecca, I am a person who has bipolar disorder. I am 37, Mom of 4, Ages 20, 17, 14 & 8. I try not to let bipolar define me. That’s a good laugh and anyone who is reading this with rapid-cycling bipolar knows how hard that is.
I had a difficult time as a teen, ended up pregnant at 16, married at 17. Three children by the time I was 22. I was “happy” for a while, but I noticed a change when I was about 23. I felt “off”. I expressed it, went to my family doctor and she gave me an antidepressant. It made me anxious as anything which led me to Xanax. I figured my doctor knew best so I would continue to take them.
I was miserable. Inside and out. I stopped with the antidepressant and went into a manic state. Only I didn’t know. The doctor didn’t know. Alcohol became my best friend. I went from being the perfect stay at home Mom, to a bartender at a local joint, staying out till 2 in the morning, sometimes all night. I cheated on my husband, and ultimately got divorced. Met a man and moved in with him. I didn’t know who I was. I somehow managed to take care of my kids, by the grace of God. I lost contact with my family. They couldn’t believe how I was acting and couldn’t get through to me. I thought they were crazy! Making a big deal over nothing.
Two years went by and I gave birth to my last child. I found that inner peace again that I had once before, but it didn’t last long. My Mom and I worked out our differences little by little, and I mean very little! She finally got me to see a psychiatric nurse. I was diagnosed with bipolar. I cried. I thought I will never be normal again.
That was 6 years, 7 hospitalizations and 16 or so ECT treatment’s ago. The depressions I went through were nothing short of a deep dark hole with what seemed like no way out. My joy, or hypomanic stages were men, aggravation, irritability, wanting to drink, shop, I need to look great you know! During a hospitalization I was finally, after many, able to find a psychiatrist that suited me. He found my magic mixture as I call it. With meds in hand and therapy weekly, life would change.
It isn’t the same. The same as what, I don’t know. I still fall into a hole, still get hypomanic, still cry about it. But it is my life. I go back and forth with my moods, and it is not easy for people around me. For the longest time I just wanted to die. Keeping up with these moods is exhausting.
Unfortunately, I did get some memory issues from my ECT treatment. I don’t recall many events, have a hard time with word retrieval, and that in itself is maddening. At 36 I went back to school, yes, for psychology. I intend on giving back. My job right now, inform the public. When I’m feeling low all I want is someone to connect to, someone who understands what it feels like. I hope to be that, even if for one person. We are in this together, and there are people who care. That is not even close to all of my story, and the anxiety I feel when I go to school. Like I said, it isn’t that easy!