I was 18, looking out a dorm window and saying “just jump” to myself. I remember I was very shocked at this, as I did not remember reading anything about this in the UCLA brochure. Needless to say, I dropped out of a college and checked myself into my first “psych ward”. I was suicidal and I thought the hospital would be a safe place where I could take a break from life. When my roommate told me she was God and that she was going to kill me, I knew this was not going to be the break I was looking for. I thought to myself ” What am I doing in here with all of these crazy people?” It turns out these people were my people. The doctors weren’t quite sure what my diagnosis was, so they tried me on anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and a strong drug on which I could not even tie my own shoes. They discharged me and I was just as hopeless and suicidal as before.
My family was the only thing that kept me alive. I quickly got hired and fired from jobs. I fell quickly back into that black, sinking hole. It’s not that I wanted to necessarily die, I just didn’t want to live like that anymore. More hospital stays and more medication failures. Finally, they put me on an anti-depressant that actually worked. It was great, except I was hyper as hell (hum, can anyone say bi-polar?). Depressed and suicidal again, I decided to visit my friend in Utah. One night at her house, I sat on her stairs and poured a bottle of pills in my hand. I was ready to swallow them when that damn friend of mine came down and spoiled all my plans.
Another visit to another psych ward followed. I always tried to keep my sense of humor in these “retreats”, because I had to keep laughing to keep from crying. Luckily, having read and studied about many anti-depressants over the years, I suggested what might work. It did and I moved back home. Everything was great until I met this “wonderful” doctor” who basically said I was cured and could come off all medication. Since he was the doctor, I trusted him. So of course, I got fired from yet another job and fell into a major depression. I was suicidal again and got back on the “let’s try this medication” train again. Nothing worked.
After enduring this fight for 22 years and not having anything left in me, I agreed when the hospital suggested electric shock therapy. I did not even care if it fried my brain. My soul was dead. I had nothing left to give. I received several treatments and they actually worked. Thank God I was alive and happy again. Still hyper, however. After reading about Bipolar 2 one day I thought “this is me”. The doctor confirmed it and after all these years, I had the correct diagnosis. I was finally at peace. Now, I never take a day for granted. I never forget to say “I love you” to someone and I never forget to thank God for getting me through those terrible struggles. NAMI has helped me in that I took their Peer to Peer class that taught me many valuable life skills and lessons. It also showed me that I was not alone in my illness. I am inspired now to become an In Our Voices speaker so I can help others with own my experience, hope, and perseverance!