Posted May 19, 2011
I was diagnosed about six years ago with Bipolar II. In 1998, I was diagnosed with major depression. So, it’s been interesting to say the least. Looking back over my life, it’s obvious that something was different. I had my first suicide attempt at thirteen – I just thought that I had lived long enough and was just really tired and needed the rest. I started smoking pot at ten years old – I really needed an escape from the depression. I went on to other drugs, but was always fairly moderate in my consumption. I worked at my parent’s restaurant from age ten, and was able to maintain a good work ethic. I was not engaged in school at all, preferring hiking and days at the beach.
Moved to Hawaii at 18 and, surprisingly, did not do drugs the way I planned to. Instead, read a great book one day and became addicted to reading. Paid off when I started college at age 35, and maintained a 3.8 for five years. Married at 25, had two girls, then divorced last year, at age 52. My ex-wife told me that if she knew that I was going to go crazy, she never would have married me. To clarify, there was no abuse, and no affairs. I was irresponsible financially, but nothing huge. I would buy a twenty dollar watch to make me feel better. And I chose to work with the mentally challenged, which did not make me rich. I was also told that I was the one who was supposed to make more money, so that my wife could stay home and raise the children. So, for reasons directly related to my illness, and some not, I was kicked out of the house and had to live in a shelter for a month. The result for me, was three weeks on a suicide ward. My doctor there was amazed that my ex did not call or visit. I told him that she came from a family and religious background that had no capacity to understand human weakness, thus mental illness. I think that she also could not trust that I really loved her, since I was bipolar. Think about it: hyper-sexuality as a symptom of bipolar could cause a person to look back and think that it was not love, it was just him being horny because he was crazy. And I believe that was some of the thinking that contributed to the divorce.
Anyway, today I am living with my daughter, an air traffic controller in the Navy, helping to raise my granddaughter. And when on the suicide ward, they found out that I am treatment resistant, having been on over 30 meds in twelve years. So, I have been off meds for over a year, and am doing fine. Having a purpose in life can be very effective towards fighting depression, which is mostly what I experience at 53. Much of the contributors to rage are gone, thanks to the divorce. Not being part of a soul-crushing church has also contributed to my well-being. And having the unconditional love and acceptance of my daughters is better than any drug they had me on.
I know this treatment plan is not for all. If you have found a drug that works, by all means stay on it the rest of your life, if need be. But for me, I live each day knowing I have a problem, but also knowing that love and purpose covers a lot of that problem.