Living with Mental Illness is Brutal; let me be clear. It’s a full-time job on top of every other responsibility there is in one’s life; kids, work, relationships and debt. It’s not for the weak or faint hearted. The misconception people living with a mood disorder can’t cope or don’t have strength to overcome life’s mishaps is a completely deluded and uneducated assumption.
I’ve lived with Bipolar Disorder since I was born. My mother suffers with bipolar two. In her case she’s let it become her identity. She blames being abusive, a terrible friend, a nasty wife, even her alcoholism on Bipolar. I believe it is the catch cry of someone who is weak. People who don’t take accountability for their own actions are those who lack strength.
I was diagnosed with bipolar one disorder three years ago, soon after I turned 26. In a perfect world I should have, would have been diagnosed in my late teens. I spent my entire 20s in a world which flew by me in a blur of spending sprees, screaming matches, suicide attempts, sex and partying like it was 1999, finishing every day with a bong in my hand.
I had no idea what was going on, I knew I was petrified of my own body, I knew my life was out of control, my relationships were disintegrating. My problem is and has always been I come across as highly functioning. I didn’t have one family member to tell me I needed help, no one to point out I was erratic and spontaneous, on the brink of death. Who tells their friend “Dude, you’re losing your shit”? They supported me but none of them ever pointed out I was acting like a crazy person.
When I was 19, my mind raced incessantly telling me how I was a terrible person, how I had no friends, how I had no future. I was petrified of leaving my apartment for an entire year. All I wanted to do was buy a gun and blow my brains out. I didn’t want to kill myself, all I wanted to do was stop my train of thought, stop the noise and be reborn. I walked into a GP clinic, staring at him shaking, with tears streaming down my face, pleading with him to admit me to the psych ward. He looked at me sternly and wrote a prescription for a healthy dose of anti-depressants. I told him my mother was Bipolar, I explained my moods. He didn’t even refer me to a psychiatrist or at the very least a psychologist. This makes me so f**ing angry.
When I was 21 I overdosed on prescription drugs trying to end the torment permanently, I was discharged from the emergency ward an hour later. The GP looked down at me and asked “why would you do something so stupid?’ Not one ounce of pity or understanding. Didn’t they know all I wanted to do was stop the misery which was enveloping my soul? Why didn’t they understand I was alone and couldn’t deal with my own thoughts telling me I would be like this until I died? I couldn’t run away from the voices in my head, they were speaking to me the moment I woke up, they screeched at me until I finally drifted to sleep, they would come alive in nightmares and refused to let me get through a whole night with much needed rest.
I will never understand the bigoted strangers who say suicide is selfish. Mental Illness is like living with every bone broken in your body, without pain relief. You still have to get day to day tasks done. You can’t run away from the agony. With a mood disorder there is no relief from your thoughts and like a body of broken bones you can’t heal yourself by telling the pain to go away. It’s the reason why so many people attempt and go through with suicide. We cry out for help, scream it out and no one listens. What’s the alternative?
It took three years living with Bipolar to accept it. I spent the years previous on medication which overly sedated me and one of the other side effects was a 35 kilo weight gain. Zoloft gives me mania. Three years, 30 referrals, 100 GP visits, three suicide attempts and one involuntary hospitalisation to finally have a psychiatrist take pity on me and take me as her patient. She told me recently Psychiatrists don’t like taking on too many Bipolar Patients otherwise her (as the psych) become Bipolar themselves. Not a very comforting thought.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I see her weekly. She monitors my medication and points out my mania and depressive states. She also told me there is no cure for Bipolar, there is also no one medication which will treat it. All she does is treat the current symptoms (episodes) No wonder we have such a scarily high suicide rate or only 50%of us take our meds and/or self-medicate.
I’ve finally taken control of my illness and I couldn’t be better, but it’s bloody hard. I self-motivate every day, running my personal mantra in my head. It’s better than self-loathing. I run every day, I’m on a healthy diet, I take my meds religiously, I’ve given up weed and drinking, I have a strict sleeping schedule, I enrolled in a marketing course (High Distinctions so far) It takes a huge amount of energy to control my episodes and I still have my Ups and Downs but I’m getting through and I’m happy.
Education and personal accountability is key. Unfortunately not many other people give a shit, friends, family or GPs. There is only so much they can handle before they take a leave of absence, permanent or otherwise. All I try to do is be the best I can be, not for anyone else, just so I can get to 70 and think geez I’ve had a great life and thank god my brain doesn’t hurt anymore.
Mental illness is tough but it’s only handed down to the people who have the strength to conquer it.
I’m Eva, I live in Melbourne Australia. I’m 28 years old. I was diagnosed with Bipolar one disorder three years ago. I’ve worked as a Business Development Manager in Digital Marketing and now I’m traveling Europe working on my Blog and marketing degree.