I was diagnosed at 21. All through school, I knew I was different. I never quite fit in with any group. I was an outsider. I didn't know why I was so unlikeable.
Then I started drinking and doing street drugs. I felt comfortable when I was drunk or high. The problem was, I couldn't handle alcohol or drugs. My behavior became so outrageous that my reputation got even worse. I was promiscuous. I had no self-respect. I hated myself.
Always I wanted to be loved. I would do anything with anyone just to be loved. Love never came.
I married at 19 to an abusive alcoholic. We had so much in common. Neither one of us fit in anywhere. We had a child. I had so many plans for her. She was going to change my life.
My marriage failed miserably. I tried to hold onto it. I knew I could fix it.
I couldn't. I couldn't fix him. I couldn't fix myself.
I didn't know I had a disease. I tried to run from myself. I followed my ex-husband from state to state trying to fix my marriage and myself. It didn't work.
While I was running, disaster struck. I was having a manic episode because my ex had been out all night drinking. I wouldn't stop screaming at him - right in front of my child who was three at the time. He started beating me in front of her. I tried to lock myself in the bathroom with her, but he kicked the door in. He was hitting me in the face so hard that my blood was splattered all over the bathroom. My little girl was so upset that she threw up right in the middle of the horror.
I became depressed. I couldn't function. I couldn't feel love for my daughter. I couldn't feel love for myself. I couldn't clean house. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I was worthless.
When I was admitted to the psychiatric ward at a local hospital, I had cut my wrist with a kitchen knife. My thoughts had been racing for weeks. I was convinced that my little girl was better off without me. I asked my sister-in-law to take her, and she took me to the hospital.
The hospital was a nightmare. There was nobody to bring me clothing or shampoo or soap. I didn't bathe the whole time I was there. The nurses hated me. I knew they were talking about me. I smelled horrible. They all hated me. They called me a slut, and a troublemaker, and they thought I was lying.
My mind broke apart into a million pieces. I couldn't tell the difference between reality and fantasy.
I had a horrific nightmare. (It took me ten years to realize it was a nightmare, and not real.) I was running around the day room ripping off my clothes. My child was there visiting with her father. I threw chairs at her and hit her and screamed at her. I made her do sexual things to me - right in the middle of the day room with everyone watching. Then I was a dragon. I was breathing fire, as I was running down the hall to my hospital room. I was knocking on all the doors, waking everyone up. I was going to buy the hospital. I was going to change things. I was going to fire all of the evil nurses and doctors. They were all frauds.
That vision stayed with me for years. I was never quite sure if my child witnessed my behavior in the hospital. I ended up being hospitalized three times over the next ten years because I wanted to kill myself. I couldn't live with myself. I had ruined my child.
Each time I was hospitalized over the next ten years, I would go into the ward, screaming that the staff had to call the police. I had to be punished. I molested my daughter! Please help me die!
Once again, the orderlies and nurses and doctors were laughing at me. That woman is disgusting!
After my last visit to the state hospital, I had a meeting with my counselor. I asked her to write to the hospital in Virginia where I had had my first experience at being locked up and grossly medicated. Where I had had the worst day of my life.
When she received the hospital records, she told me that I had never been out of control in the day room when my daughter was there. It never happened. I could live with myself. I could live. I didn't do it.
Since that day, I have been relentlessly trying to get my life back. I'm back. I am 37.
It took many years of social security disability. My child and I lived in poverty. My ex barely helped to support our child. I was still a basket case.
I felt like a guinea pig. I tried so many different medications. I had serious side effects. Over the years when I was in and out of hospitals, I went off my meds many times. I felt worse on them than off them.
Finally I met a genius. He prescribed a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant. I felt better.
I had another child. It didn't work out with her father, but she is beautiful.
Social Security Disability cancelled my income.
I went to business school while working at a hardware store. I prayed.
I got a job working for the state judicial department. I couldn't believe it! I was actually on the other side of the window, no longer a criminal! I had health insurance to pay for my meds and keep my children healthy!
I've worked for the state for six years, the longest I've ever held down one job. I am good at what I do.
I get up every morning, brush my teeth, take a shower, get my little one to school, and go to work.
My older daughter is now 18. She is wonderful. She likes herself. She knows she is loved. She knows I'm here for her. She is so smart. I didn't ruin her at all.
I have my own condo. It is warm and clean. I have done it on my own. I can do it.
Sixteen years ago, I hated myself. Today I love myself. I support myself. I am happy. I am not depressed. I am no longer manic. I have found the right meds. I am whole.
I am writing this today because I know, from reading correspondence in your forum, that there are so many beautiful human beings out there with mental illness who don't know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Bipolar is forever, but it is treatable. If you are on the wrong meds, change them. If you are seeing a doctor who is not helping you, get a different doctor. Keep reaching for sanity, because it is there. I promise you.
I never thought I would be where I am today. I have friends. I fit in. I am unique. I have character. I am self-sufficient.
I love me. I am a miracle.