Chest Pain


This afternoon, I have chest pain. Not the heart attack kind, but the depression kind.

Meds are still doing their dance of adjustment. Take more of this, weaning off of that.

When I stay busy unpacking in my new surroundings, I’m not as bad, but as soon as I stop, I remember that I’m in debt with a credit card, now have bipolar2 disorder, am spending too much per month on this rent house, and am eating up my savings just to live (and have been for four years). I was supposed to have graduated from college two years ago with a nursing degree and be in the thick of things.

Instead, the God I had known allowed an alteration in my brain chemistry. It happened when I experienced severe empty nest. What I didn’t know at the time . . . the reason I ran away from home and can now never go back, was hypomania had set in. My life had changed forever.

For two years, hypomania ran my life. I spent too much, flunked out of college twice (I tried. I really did), and I did many other “classic” things that the internet and books give as bipolar2 symptoms. I had them all. In the midst of it, though, I had no idea what had happened to me.

My family and friends kept asking me what I was doing – what I was thinking. I just said, “I’m going to fly. I have a new life. I want to see the world. I want. . . I want . . .” I had no idea where I was going. I just knew EVERYthing had changed. I was euphoirc, and didn’t quite know why. My off-kilter mind led me.

After two years of acting like a teenager and losing forty pounds in just two months, depression hit me – slowly at first, then I hit a wall and texted my family good-bye notes. I got in my Jeep, sobbed over my steering wheel at the realization that I had to kill myself. . . . . . Again, I wasn’t aware that an out-of-whack brain chemistry led me to all of it.

I drove, seeking an interstate I could speed on and then drive off of. A high one. But, some little flicker of life inside me said, “There MUST be an alternative. Is there? I want to talk to my friend, but she’s at work, and she can’t really get me out of this.” Then, I knew. As I drove near my doctor’s office, I exited the highway and told her I was suicidal. I’d been on depression meds and was adjusting them at the time (I also desperately needed a mood stabilizer). It was an all-encompassing stress-filled and helpless time for all.

I dropped and dropped, new antidepresdsant didn’t work. None of them did. At first, they were fine. What happened?

So, I moved to Dallas, Texas, in hopes of finishing a shorter degree in funeral science. I’ve always loved that field of study. Depression, real depression, dropped on me. It was a heavy blanket made of cinderblocks. I couldn’t get out of bed, gained back the forty pounds plus another forty. Ate complete crap – and didn’t get any movement – just lay in bed, too low to watch TV or read. No talking on the phone. Texting for help was all I could do. Thankful for my dedicated mother and daughter.

I began investigating depression blogs. I came across one that shocked me. It was a woman with bipolar disorder. She spoke of highs and lows – in extremes. I didn’t have such highs, though. But my low had dropped me at the door of suicide. Every single day, for months, I wanted to die. I planned ways of going. Where would I do it, so that a loved one wouldn’t find me? How could I be sure I’d complete the suicide? I didn’t want to be rescued.

I kept reading related blogs, and I kept seeing myself more and more often. I thought I might be experiencing the bipolar, type 2 I read about – deep depressions that are almost impossible to get out of and light mania (well,mine was enough to ruin my life at that particular point).

My Psychiatrist listened to my questions and asked me why in the world I hadn’t told her about the first two years after I had left home. I answered that I didn’t think that was pertinent to my depression. “I would have had you on a different course of treatment,” she said. I was so fatigued, sad, and hopeless, I’d had trouble even keeping that appointment, and I’d driven SIX hours to see her.

So, she added a mood stabilizer to a new antidepressant.  —— I’ve been seeing improvement – finally. Who knew the two long episodes were related?!

I’m getting off of the highly addictive Xanax (2 mg per evening) that my GP had me on (for sleep) and increasing the mood med, slowly.

Different parts of my day mean different moods. I was energetic in the early afternoon. Now, I blog because of a heavy chest, tears as I write, and a feeling of sadness. However, no more suicide compulsions. Just hopeless at present.

One of my blog posts in the recent past said – “When the money runs out, I run out.” I have limited funds and worry constantly about whether I’ll have enough to pay for school, living, food – before I can graduate and get a job. Stress, stress, stress.

I see very clearly, in hindsight, what this disorder is. That I had it all along. I even suspect when I got it. When my daughter left home to pursue a new career and fiancee three hours away, I entered her pink room, closed her door, surveyed the empty bedroom, and sat down hard on the pink carpet – among pieces of discarded paper and childhood tokens -a plastic ring she had kept, a necklace from her grandma, a Bible School bracelet she had made with colorful beads.

And I cried harder than I ever had before. I cried loud, wailing sobs into a washcloth. My breath almost leaving me as my diaphragm screamed from overuse. I hadn’t cried so desperately and hard even at my father’s funeral (a suicide at age 44). My  mind swam in a dirty puddle of muddy, nowhere water. I don’t know how long I sat there, but no one came in to soothe me (husband or grown son). Alone, I grieved my loss as a “Mama.”  I’m sorry if you don’t understand, but my two children were my life. Nothing had touched me like my children.

I don’t remember anything about the following three weeks. Only that I woke up one morning in a very, very good mood – knowing I was going to hurridly leave my husband and son at the family home and find my own way, my freedom.

Within three months, I was in my own townhouse – a completely changed woman. Everything was new, different, and it was an exciting but scary time.

There it began. This “new life.”

I still sometimes feel lost, aimless, helpless, and often hopeless. Sometimes I still think, “When the money runs out, I run out.”

The reason I stay is my mama and my daughter. I can’t do that to those wonderful women.

What is left today? Chest pain and tears. That’s nothing new.


3 thoughts on “Chest Pain

  1. Dear Lea…With a very sad heart I’ve watched you go on this sorrowful journey for a while now. I am amazed that you have the inner strength to share your story this way. Do you remember my sister who took her own life? Her everyday climb was indeed a struggle as well. If I could go back in time I often wonder what would I say to her…what could I say to her that she would seriously take to heart…thus, putting down her weapon of choice and continue living. Without reservation, I would tell her not to lose her faith. I would remind her how seriously and passionately she had loved our Lord and what a complete and healed person she became when she allowed Him to her guide. I would remind her that demons are real and evil works very hard to destroy our relationship with our Christ. I would pray with her…for her…that our Father remove those demons from her…washing her with a Love she had never known before. I would quote from scripture various passages of comfort. I would also quote 2 Corn 2:8…”I urge you to reaffirm your love for Him”. He comes first. Then I would tell her to be a loving mother and grandmother but not to live through her children as though they are living her life for her. They come second. Lea….you have within you a beauty of our Lord that I don’t think you know you have. Find yourself through Him…after all, he says to cast all our cares on Him because He loves us. The way you love you children…He loves His children…and you, my dear Lea, are one of His children. I pray for you and pray that you take seriously His love for you. Find your peace there.

    1. Thank you, Brenda. You are a sweet lady. I’ve always thought so. 🙂
      I still pray to “God,” but have lost my faith in everything else. No Bible, no Jesus. It took me a few years to even trust God again, and I’m pretty sure about Him.
      I’m honest and have nothing I hide from you, friend. I very much appreciate your care for me. I wish things had turned out much differently for your sister. I wish I’d known my dad had been that desperate.
      I’m doing the best I can right now with my faith. I just couldn’t believe my God had torn me from everything I knew & loved. I miss seeing you, Brenda Hoyt ~

  2. Thank you for sharing. I was diagnosedw bp2 just 2 months ago, after a serious suicide attempt (3 months ago) that almost had me in cardiac arrest. I went to in/patient, then outpatient treatment. I have 2 small children, and until birthing my beautiful 5 yr old, had not struggled w depression. It has been 5 years of ups & downs and this most recent was my “Rick bottom”. Not realizing I was suffering from post partem w my 2nd, I entered a severe depression… But continued to work full time, and get increasingly short tempered & irritable (now I know that is my hypomania). I was impressed and happy for you that you were able to be a mother who was present during your children’s early years. I feel like bi polar robbed me of that early connection.

    Feels good to share my story, yours is the blog I connected to. I am doing well on moOd stabslizers & a new anti depressant, but it is still a lot to get used to.
    Here’s to our health!
    Ps. I lucky to have a healthy partner who (though frustrated w all my drama) is supportive

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