Depression & Bipolar Disorder

It’s May, Mental Health Awareness Month. I thought I’d blog today because I suffer from a mental disorder and want to quickly share my trip from “normal” to needing help and back to normalcy. If you have a mental problem, you can improve your life, too.

I was 44 and experienced a break down when my oldest child left home. I had always been “Mama,” and my heart was broken. I cried so hard that I was overwhelmed and a change overcame me.

Mania was what took over. Of course, I had not idea I was in a manic state. It felt like a very good mood. I was high on life. Even when I saw that my 25 year marriage was not going to be salvaged, I was in a good mood. The mania lasted about 7 months. I lost 40 pounds in two months, was promiscuous, dabbled in weed, drank too much, spent too much, and took two pricey vacations. I also couldn’t keep a job for more than six months.

After the six months in the best moods I’d ever experienced, the tides turned.

I immediately went into a deep depression. I didn’t cook, clean, go out of my house, or do anything I used to find enjoyable. I even dropped out of college when the depression began. I just stopped going. I wanted to die every day. I prayed that God would take me in my sleep. Antidepressants were my doctor’s answer. They would lift me a little – only to quickly let me return to soul-sucking depression within a couple of weeks.

My life was in shambles for seven years! I saw therapists and counselors. I changed medical doctors several times. I sought help anywhere I could, only to find no relief.

I researched depression online all the time. I’d check out suicide rates for women my age and know I only had a short time left on earth. There were no answers for me.

Once, I texted my family that I loved them and thanked them for the help they had tried to give. Then I took off in my car to kill myself – somehow. I didn’t want to injure anyone else though. There were no answers in this endeavor. Because of a flicker of hope in me, I drove to my GYN. She was an understanding, kind, and smart woman. I got to see her right away. The receptionist evidently saw the immediate attention I needed. She sent me (and my grown son who had made it to me by then) to a local mental health hospital where they asked about sixty questions.

By the time I finished answering the questions, I was coming down from the immediacy of the suicidal emotion. I realized I wasn’t a threat to myself anymore, and the hospital let me go. The black dog depression still loomed over me, though.

Soon after, I changed physicians once again. I couldn’t give up. This time, I found the right one. She and I figured out that the mania I experienced was part of the depression and that it was Bipolar, type 2. We added a certain type of mood stabilizer (generic Abilify) to my antidepressant.

Within a week, I was elevated to a mostly normal mood each day. I could sleep again and wasn’t staying up for days in a row. We had settled my questions. I knew what was wrong and could treat the symptoms. Unfortunately, the disorder doesn’t just go away. I didn’t care. I found help and was elated!

Now, six years later and still on the same meds (they were raised in mg a bit over time) and doing very well. My kids say I’m “Mama” again. It feels good to wake up and not dread having to merely survive through another day.

So, my dears, mental health can be yours if you don’t give up on yourself. Whether you have bipolar, severe depression, or anything else, hang in there. Keep seeking help. It is out there. I am proof.

Blessings to you!

Lea

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