the never-ending roller coaster

gina's story

the never-ending roller coaster is probably the best way to describe my 
life.  meaning, that I am constantly going up and down and left and right 
and twisty-turn and upside down and right side out.  that is the bipolar 
life.  that is my life.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder I at the age of 15 ½ .  now, over 3 
years later at the age of 18, turning 19 in august, I am very surprised that 
I am still alive.  around the age of 15, I went from the perky, happy go 
lucky, smiley, bubbly teenager that I was, to a cynical, irritable, moody, 
slightly depressed pain in the ass.  let me start you from the beginning.
since the day I was born, I was very out-going, social and wanted to know 
everyone and everything that was out there in the world.  I was regarded 
from the earliest of ages as being exceptionally bright, articulate, 
intelligent and creative.  I had a flair for talking and writing.  and 
breezed through school effortlessly.  I had a knack for school, sports, the 
arts, and people.  being the oldest of another sister and younger brother, 
my sister hated me and looked up to me all at the same time.   but by the 
age of 15, everyone was wondering what was happening to gina?  I had just 
bought my roller coaster ticket.

my parents were really at a lost for what was happening to me.  what was 
happening to their essentially perfect daughter?  it was bad enough that our 
perfect, walton like family was falling apart due to my parentsí disruptive 
divorce.  but, there was a lot more to it.  finally, my family could not 
longer stand my fiery irritability, ever changing moods, and violent out 
bursts.  <I was never violent before this.  I was all for trying to talk 
things through and listening and all that.>  so, one day in september, I 
went to uicís psychiatric institute for juvenile research.  that is when I 
started therapy with one of the perkiest woman I have ever met.  <well, at 
that time she seemed really happy.>  she was my therapist.  I also had a 
psychiatrist brought in, to recommend a medication program for me.  for the 
next 2-½ months, I saw jodi, my therapist, and dr. wright, my psychiatrist, 
separately, once a week.  but, it was working, and in november I attempted a 
small suicide gesture.  I really wasnít attempting to kill myself, but just 
inflict pain onto me.  but, picking at my wrists with carpet tacks was 
enough to send me the northwesternís childrenís psych ward for 6 days.  it 
was at northwestern I was diagnosed with bipolar.  at uic, jodi and dr. 
wright were still investigating every possibility from the obvious major 
depression to add, to borderline personality.  but, since I was constantly 
in therapy at northwestern, I was asked every question possible.  my history 
was, that from the ages of 13 to 15 I was bounce back and forth from manic, 
hypo-manic and normal episodes. looking back at those years now and knowing  what I know about bipolar, I can totally see how I was manic.  I was all sweet and innocent and maintain my perfect image and excellent grades, to my family and a lot of my friends, but I was not acting how a 13, 14 and 15 
year old should act. 

I was smoking a ½ a pack a cigarettes by the age of 
14, drinking, smoking weed, partying, staying out till sunrise, hanging out 
with 20 year olds.  I had lost my virginity at the age of 14, and had my 
first one nightstand at 15.  I was working at this time and I was spending 
money like it was nothing.  I bought myself everything I wanted and things 
for my friends too.  I didnít care.  and I wanted to everything possible. 
even my friends were saying that my energy was too much to handle most of 
the time and my happy disposition was becoming annoying.  that soon all 
changed.   I then dipped into the worst depression, I have experienced to 

at this point I missed so much school it only worsen my depression and I 
stopped going.  or make a weekly appearance.  I was fortunate to attend a 
suburban all girl preparatory high school.  so as long as our monthly 
tuition checks were in, I was good to go.  in december, I was back at 
northwestern.  this time I had serious suicidal intentions.  I had not done 
anything this time, but if I didnít go into the hospital I was going to try 
something, and we are not talking about carpet tacks anymore.  I got out of 
the hospital 2 days before christmas and made a promise to my self I was 
going to clean up my act.  and I was able to pull it together.
I finally left my all girl school and decided to leave the city and live my 
cousin and aunt in the suburbs and finish my sophomore year at the district 
high school there.  I finished my sophomore year without incident.  I went 
to almost failing to get all Aís for the second semester.  I thought I was 
back on track.  and better.

not knowing at the time, I was extremely manic during the summer before my 
junior year of high school.   I was doing some hardcore drugs.  I was 
snorting coke, taking acid, going to raves, and staying up all night long. 
sometimes for 2 days or more.  I was out of control.  and once again, I was 
losing it.  I had relapsed, and this time I was going to jeopardize my life.
I was no at my third high school in 3 years.  it was an all girl school. 
but this time, a lot of my girl friends were attending the same school.  the 
first semester went ok.  I had calm down a little a bit.  and I was doing 
well.  by time the second semester rolled around, which was in january, I 
was manic again.  I was skipping my therapy sessions with jodi and dr. 
wright and I was lying and saying I was taking my meds and I wasnít.  once 
dr. wright found out through blood tests, he gave me an automaton:  start 
your meds again and stick to them and your therapy, or you are going to the
hospital.  I laughed at him and his threat.  but in february  I was sent to 
christ hospital.  and I didnít go quietly.  I went kicking and screaming. 
they called in uic security and I was escorted to the uic hospital to be 
sedated.  and then off to the suburban hospital I went for a  lovely 9-day 
stay.   there I started my meds again and was put under constant observation 
and put in the quiet room many of times.   but by day 5 or so, I was on so 
much ativan and tegretol and other meds, I became quiet as a mouse and as 
still as a statue.  when I returned home, they tapered my drugs, so I can 
carry on with my daily life.  but I was still not myself.  I stopped going 
to school again and I was getting depressed.  what goes up, must come down. 
that is my life.

my depression was getting worse and therapy, combined with my meds was not 
working.  and in july, I attempted suicide.  at this time, I was living with 
my  father and brother.  my parents were separated and my mother said that 
she loved me, but couldnít handle me anymore.  so, one july night after a 
few friends and my dad, brother and I watched a movie, I went into my room 
and I cut my wrists.  I hate pain, so I guess I didnít cut deep enough, due 
my low threshold for pain.  it seemed like I did cut deep, because I would 
not stop bleeding.  I then passed out.  to my dismay, I woke up very much 
alive.   I just was a bloody mess, and with some pretty damaged wrists that 
were in a lot of pain.   2 days later, I had to meet with dr. wright.  I had 
screwed up my therapy with dr. wright and jodi so much, that if I missed a 
session with either one of them, without a valid reason, they would notify 
my parents.  I didnít have one, so off I went to see dr. wright.  now look 
at this situation:  it was july, not to mention, that this summer was 
particularly hotter then previous ones.  here I am, going to see my doctor, 
a psychiatrist, to try and lie to him that everything is peachy, so I can 
get out of there as quickly as possible.  and I am a wearing a sweater.  I 
did this because I had to bandage my wrists and I didnít want him to see 
because I had plans to try again that night.  either way I was screwed.  if 
I didnít go to my session, I would hear it from my dad and he would take me 
there later in the day for a later appointment.  if I did see dr. wright, I 
was going to be extremely lucky if I could pull off the session without 
incident.  well, needless to say, I went to the hospital that day.  I went 
to christ hospital again and this time I stayed there for 21 days. I was on 
7 different meds and taking medication 5 times a day.  I was a medication 
mess.  but I could not snap out of it.  besides my bipolar, I have suffered 
from extreme paranoia.  and my paranoia at this time was sky high.  I sarted 
getting delusional.  hearing things and seeing things.  I didnít care if I 
died.  I wanted to die.  on my 21st day, my insurance coverage ran out for 
psychiatric inpatient hospital stays.  and I had to go and transfer to 
another hospital where my secondary insurance would cover my stay.  at that 
hospital I was there for 9 days.  I left that hospital 2 days before my 17th 
  birthday.  at the 2nd hospital, nothing really changed, but something in 
me just clicked.  I wanted to get out before my 17th birthday and try and 
make something of my life.  I donít know what it was or if was just my 
bipolar doing what it does best, change moods.  I didnít want to be stuck in 
this hospital any more and I wanted out.  I wanted to be free and be in the 
real world and learn to cope and deal with crap.

now, almost 2 years later as I approach my 19th  birthday, how is miss gina 
doing?  in october of í99, I went off my meds.  it wasnít my doctorís 
choice, but mine.  I have been off them for 9 months.  but as of last week, 
I went back on my tegretol and respirdal.  I am hypo-manic according good 
olí dr. wright.  <yes, I am still with him and jodi.>  he thinks that I am 
having a mixed episode.  do I agree with him?  really I donít know.  all I 
do know is, I still remember my past way to clearly and I do not want to 
re-live it again.

I will say this about everything I have been through:

I am very lucky to have dr. wright and jodi in my life to help me.  it 
hasnít been easy for me.  currently the guy I am with, his mother isnít 
handling my past too well.  I think she is being closed-minded.  and 
hopefully someday, sheíll give me a chance.  I live in a small neighborhood 
in a large city, but because of where I live, everyone knows everyone.  and 
people know of me and my past.  some only know little details, some know the 
whole story.  and some think that I am crazy.  oh, well.  I am not going to 
lie and say that this is been easy and I am over everything.  everyday is a 
struggle for me.  somedays I donít want to get out of bed.  somedays I donít 
go to bed.  that is my life.  but everyday I do try and deal with it a 
little more.

I thank you for reading my story.  I hope it has helped you in some way or 
another.  through everything I have learned there is one thing that helps me 
the most:

take each day, one day at a time.

I try not to put too many expectations on myself and only make short time 
goals.  this way I donít let myself down and gives me a chance to get more 
out of my life.

thank you and good luck.  I know it isnít easy.  but remember nothing is.
and what doesnít kill us, only makes us stronger.
I am not very religious and I know that not everyone believes in god, so 
take this as you wish and apply it to yourself as you like:

ďif god had meant for today to be perfect, he wouldnít have invented 
please remember, there is always a tomorrow.


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