Stigma Fighters: Gina Thomas

I ALWAYS KNEW

I have always known I was different.

Always TOO something. Too loud, sad, mad, crazy, happy. Sometimes alternating through all of the “toos” hourly. I was a hot mess.

In spite of this roller coaster, I had a great job. I was raising two toddlers as a single mom. I did it all. Well, perhaps TOO well, sometimes. But everyone knows that what goes up must come down, right?

I loved my job. I worked my way up in the restaurant business. I started out at the bottom as a flunky and I ended up becoming a regional director. I was good. TOO good at running these stores. Two hours sleep? No problem–I can handle it. I worked hard and I made good money. And I spent it, too. I spent it all.

I began to have some crazy mood swings. My boss came to me and told me that maybe I needed to see someone because I was becoming “erratic.” I said I always knew, right? So I told him a lie. I said I was having some drama at home. I wasn’t. I just could not focus and maintain anymore. I wasn’t sleeping. I had kids to care for and I was just tired;┬átired of it all. I still thought it was just physical.

I was so wrong.

But I kept going. I dropped the ball at work, at home, and just became a major fuckup. It pissed me off too. I was a perfectionist. At the time, the stores I had taken over were operating in the red. After some time, I got them back in the black. Now–they are writing me up? ME? Oh, what was happening to me? I hadn’t been this way since my teen years.

I knew, right?

I went to work one day and my boss was there, yet again. I just knew┬áthis was going to be the day. Somehow…I just knew I was going to go batshit that day. He began to go over my inventory. Another manager had counted it the night before and messed it up–but he said MY name. I felt the hair raise up on the back of my neck. I sat there. For a split second. Like please, G, just…breathe. The next thing I knew, I had thrown my keys and turned over a table. I can remember the look on his face and I still laugh. So I left. I walked out. I went home and fell apart; fell apart for days.

Didn’t leave my house. Didn’t do anything. I knew that I had to do something, so I went to see “someone.”

Best. Move. Ever.

He diagnosed me with bipolar disorder fairly quickly after a few visits, and I was like, finally–a name for this. I didn’t know that these episodes would continue on and on and on. Although relieved, I was also devastated in a way with this label. Because it meant I wasn’t perfect. And I was the perfectionist.

I went years going from doctor to doctor, hospital visits and to a few jail cells. I let my bipolar rule me. I gave in too easily to the rage, sadness, and despair. My last trip to The Castle (my loving name for inpatient) was in 2009. During that stay, I met a new doctor who got me off of all these 50-11 meds that the rest of the doctors had me on. He detoxed me–ugh–and we started all over. The results have been amazing.

Have I told you that I am now stable? That I haven’t been sad in a long, long time? I get up in a positive mood every day because this is what I have to do for ME and my mental health. I try to stay positive no matter what. I want to be happy. And I am happy.

I want people with bipolar to know that they can have all of this, too. It’s hard work and it’s tiring. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t have bad days, but I don’t dwell on them. I try to find one thing to be happy about every day. I go one day at a time. And, really? That is all any of us can do. Maybe I always knew this, too!

gina

 

You can find Gina here:

https://www.facebook.com/GinaBoomBoomThomas

http://gina12stuff.tumblr.com/