My childhood was anything but normal. My parents, both consumed with 
their own disorder's abused me and my siblings constantly. That is why, 
when I became a teenager and first experienced panic attacks, flashbacks, 
surging energy and draining depressions I figured it was normal to be going 
through hell...after all hadn't I barely survived a childhood full of pain? 
But no matter how much therapy or anti-depresants or support groups I 
attended the gigantic mood swings, agitation and paranoia wouldn't let up.
In fact, following my daughter's birth more then six years ago, I became 
severely depressed. All I could seem to do was sit in front of the TV and 
eat. My now-ex-husband was overwhelmed by this bizzare situation. Here he 
was stuck with an immovable wife who didn't care whether she lived or died 
and an infant daughter who had horrible colic. To his credit he stuck it 
out, caring for her every moment he was home and leaving her in the care of 
his parents when he'd leave for work while all I could do was sleep, eat and 
watch TV...hopeing I'd just melt away into the furniture.
Then one day, when she was four months old I woke up fine. Happy and glad 
that I was now feeling "normal", for five weeks I was the perfect wife and 
mother. I spent long hours cooking and baking, reorganized our entire home 
and took my daughter on long walks in the surrounding area. During this 
time my daughter had several health problems that required us to take her 
into Children's Hospital, but nothing could stand in the way of my euphoric 
sense that all was right with the world.
But just as suddenly I fell off the other side of the energetic, happy 
state of what I know now was hypomania and became terrifyingly agitated and 
paranoied. I became convinced that I was a danger to my own daughter--in my 
delusions I was sure I needed to adopt her out as horrible visions of 
violence swarmed over me day in and day out. Every moment that my 
daughter's father was out of the house became torture.
Eventually we sought help from a Psychologist. Up until this point I 
thought maybe I had multiple personalities or PTSD or severe 
depression--many therapists had gone along with this view, prescribing 
endless psychotherapy and behavioral modification techniques. But this new 
Clinical-Psychologist said, after I described my fears along with a new 
development (wild spending sprees where I'd buy whole closets full of 
clothes or an entire set of new make-up) that I was Bipolar and promptly put 
me on Tegretol. This worked so well it terrified me and I only stayed on it 
for six weeks or so after which I became immovibly depressed again.
It would take another five years, a divorce and the loss of my daughter 
before I got a correct diagnoses again and began to truly accept that this 
disease had cost me so much that it was time to face it head on. In the 
interim I saw four more therapists who never suspected, or if they did never 
said, that I have a biological disorder that required strong medication in 
order to control. Finally, while in a Transitional Housing arrangement 
through the local mental health center the case workers were able to mirror 
back to me what the depression, agitation, mania and paranoia really looked 
like. At first I was afraid that if I admitted I had Bipolar then maybe if 
the medication didn't work I'd be stuck being crazy. But when my entire 
team, therapist, doctor and case manager, got together and compared notes it 
was clear that a combination of medication and ongoing talk-therapy is what 
will work best for me.
I'm now on Depakote, Zyprexa and Prozac. It's only been about a month 
since things have been stable. My life has changed a lot since facing this 
reality. I took the initiative to study up on the diagnoses and truly 
understanding really has eased my mind. Suddenly I can concentrate well 
enough to go back to school and finish my AA degree--something I've been 
working on for three years now. My relationships are easier and more clear 
after I've been able to explain some of my more bizarre behavior by 
educating my close friends and family about this disorder. And for the 
first time I have more hope for the future then dispair and more peace then 
chaos!
Feel free to contact me with any questions, Elise
kingelise@hotmail.com

 

 

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