June 2, 2008

I want to share my story, though it is no more spectacular than the story of anyone else who has this in their lives. I seldom am the life of the party these days and for now it is okay. I have a mental health website that I am moderator/administrator on and that is something I am proud of. It keeps me grounded by its demands even when my world and head are spinning out of control.

And yet I want so much for the words I write to mean something to someone. To know there are others who do understand and are there in those dark hours. Funny thing is when my own darkness comes I prefer to be alone. Depression is the worst of friends and the best of enemies. Something I thought of once and thought it was like everything I write dazzling. Yet no one else seems to think much on what I say.

In the mania phases I have thought I could create masterpieces and tried to literally in one sitting. Sixty thousand words peeling off the fingertips as the rest of the world slowly moves away. I don’t see that world anymore, just the blank page in front of me. I feel that way when I paint or take pictures. I don’t finish till they are perfect which never seems to come.

The manic phases I love the world and it loves me. I am friendly and can laugh with ease. Nothing gets to me in the beginning and everything feels as it is perfect. The further that goes on the harsher it gets. Suddenly I am the vampire just waiting in the dark. Suddenly the darkest thoughts are the most appealing. And my love turns to hate very fast. The days I am sick and moving. Never resting because the mind never ceases. Waiting for the fall off the merry go round of insanity and fearing that fall even more.

I am an ultra rapid cycler, so these moods can happen many times a day. The ups and downs become sickening, and you can’t keep focused for long on anything. The crashes are hard and often come without notice. Everything is tainted in despair. And nothing seems to ever be or feel positive again. You remember the lover you were dumped by for being too much work. You remember a friend that said you were not enough. You remember the frightened, angry family who said so many horrible things that you no longer hear them say “I love you” when they do. All you remember is the time when they shouted, “Why don’t you die already?” My response was: “It wasn’t for lack of trying, surely.”

The night is all I have in the sense of peace and belonging. I can work on the website and communicate with others with whom I belong. Offering hope and friendship to those who sometimes find it hard to breathe. Asking none for myself.

The meds – we haven’t been able to find a combo that works yet. I had hoped that before I hit forty it would have been found. I haven’t given up hope on that one. Somehow Scarlett O’Hara and I have that in common for tomorrow will always be another day in which we can hope for something better.

It hasn’t been easy for those who know me. I never say half of what I feel or where I am at. They have their burdens, and I won’t be a part of that. And yet sometimes I wish I could just reach out and have them grab my hand right back.

So when you feel that no one hears you, someone does, but never quit reaching out… or hoping that tomorrow will be that better day. You never know, it just may!


  1. Debra,
    Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like mine. You didn’t mention any medication; I assume you do take meds. I would like to find your website. I am so disgusted with medications; it doesn’t seem any meds have been developed for bipolar except for Lithium. I am thinking I might ask for Lithium; but if it is such a great drug why isn’t everyone using it.

  2. Debra,

    I have a story as well, and no, it’s not as spectacular as some. But it’s mine, and therefore unique.
    I am 57yrs old and have been fighting one form or another of mental illness since I was a teen. I never realized until I started therapy that I was anorexic for a few years – basicly all of high school and a least a year in college. Also, that I was emotionally abused by my mother, and by default by my father because he let my mother bully me. I was not really a happy kid, for which I was blamed. My parents never bothered to ask why I was depressed or unhappy. I was lonely – not good at making friends. Fortunately, I wasn’t anorexic enough to become stick thin ( I would have loved that),so I never thought I was until my therapist pointed out that the stick thin part doesn’t have to be present. I have diaries from high school that I kept all these years. I pored over them, and brought them to therapy. It was all there.

    Happily, when I moved away to school, my eating disorder symptoms went away. But I remained unable to really make friends. I was depressed on and off, sought no treatment, just suffered through it. I had flashbacks to negative experiences in childhood that would get me down. But I would squash them and not deal with them. That was especially true when I was raising my 3 kids. They were my priority. I told no one about my problems, except my husband. I didn’t know how dysfunctional my family was until I got into therapy. When that’s all you know, it’s normal.

    Fast forward a few years. My oldest (son) was diagnosed with BP 1 when he was in college. He had 2 major breakdowns, both in foreign countries- Eng. and Australia. He was psychotic, paranoid, thrown in prison, and in Eng. kept there for 3 mos. while they worked to stabilize him. As you can imagine, this was very hard on us, and we had almost no one to talk to. We kept his illness from both our families for years out of shame and fear of them not understanding.He finally came home, and we found a good psychiatrist from a referral. He tried going back to school and finally graduated a 4 yr college after 7 yrs. We were proud of him. We had some ups and downs with him, but now he is settled on his meds and we were able to get him on disability and food stamps.He has problems with insomnia that make it difficult to hold a job even if he could find one. He lives on his own but and has no friends – we are his social net, which is sad. His only friend moved away last summer.
    And finally me. In 2002 I had major surgery and a long difficult recovery which sent me into a depression for which I was treated. But then I started flying into rages – I had so much anger I didn’t know where to put it. Those rages turned out to be mania which reared its ugly head while I was being treated for the depression. That often happens – treat only one part, and the other emerges. I was diagnosed with BP II. Through a refferal from a doc at my husband’s work, my son and I were connected with a great doc, and then for me a great therapist. I have been seeing her at first every week, until insurance started limiting the number. Now I see her just 2x/mo. Of course as of Jan. 1, there will be again unlimited visits, due to the new federal mental health parity law, long overdue. I

    For the past 2 yrs. I attended weekly classes in DBT (Dialectical behavior therapy by Marsha Linehan). I was pushed kicking and screaming into this, but it has been a life saver. I have learned so many skills to help me manage my moods and self destructive behaviors. I would recommend it for anyone who has emotional dysfunction. .
    It is used for BPD substance abuse/addictions, and other disorders. It really helps if your therapist is trained in it too.Mine is a certified trainer, although I wasn’t in her groups.
    I also have sleep issues – insomnia, so I take a sleep med every night and am on Seroquel, Lamictal, Wellbutrin and clorazapam for anxiety.

    I am also a rapid cycler. I get mad, and then depressed. or in reverse, all in one day. Emotional regulation skills are very helpful, but I sometimes wait too long and then I go nuts and it’s hard to get back to even keel (baseline).
    Making friends is still hard and right now I only have 1 person I call a friend. Better than no one, but still difficult.

    I belong to NAMI (Natl Association for the mentally Ill) and attend monthly local meetings. There are mostly family members there, not consumers like me But I still come as does my husband. I have learned how to talk about myself in front of them, but no one outside except my husband and best friend has a clue. I usually attend the state conference, and I would urge you all to go to your state’s. NAMI is nationwide and I think every state has a annual conf. They have workshops,and speakers on every topic you can think of relating to mental illness. Attending makes me feel empowered, as do the local meetings. Maybe one day I’ll attempt going to National (in San. Francisco this year)

    I hope that reading my story will comfort or encourage others. You are not alone

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