Eleven days before I turned 20, I was diagnosed with depression and bipolar II disorder. About four months later, I was also diagnosed with anxiety and mild panic.
Those aren’t exactly easy diagnoses to handle. It’s not like being told you’ve got strep and this medication will make it better. Finding the right medication is a mess of trial and error. And for me that trial and error process wound up just not working, so I don’t take any medications for these things. I have something I can take for my panic attacks, but that’s it. Being unmedicated for these things isn’t easy, but I would rather deal with them this way than constantly be switching from one drug to another and paying for multiple doctor visits just so I can find the right cocktail of medicines that work.
I can look back at the years before I was diagnosed and see the symptoms of these illnesses and wish that I had spoken up about it sooner. At one point, I dealt with the emotional pain of the depression by physically harming myself – I would cut. That went on for years. However, I haven’t done it in sixteen and a half months now. And I’m incredibly proud of myself for that.
There are absolutely still days where I sit and wonder if doing it again would make me feel any better than I do in that moment, but I think about how far I’ve come and I won’t let myself slip back into that.
The combination of mental illnesses that I have can present itself in odd ways sometimes. I might be perfectly fine for days on end, but then suddenly I’ve got energy but I’m depressed and have absolutely no motivation to do anything. And people don’t understand when I tell them that. How can I have energy but no motivation? Ask the chemical imbalance and faulty wiring in my brain how that works, because I sure don’t have the answer for you.
The depression and anxiety are the ones that I have to deal with most often, but even among just those two it’s the depression moreso than the anxiety. Sometimes I can force myself to go through with my normal tasks, but other times I just can’t. There’s nothing I want to do. I just lay in my bed binge watching shows on Netflix. Sometimes I’ll pull out a book and do some reading. Maybe I’ll sit up and do some writing on my laptop or with pen and paper. There’s usually not much I can even think about doing when my depression decides to flare up.
When my anxiety becomes an issue, I worry about everything. How I look. What I say. How I act. What I’m doing. What I need to do. What I’ve already done. If I put something away in my room. Anything and everything I could possibly worry about comes to the forefront of my mind. It prevents me from focusing on what I need to. It’s especially difficult when I’m at school. There’s nothing I can do to make it stop.
I’m working on managing and coping with things better. If I need help, I’ll reach out to trusted friends and tell them what’s going on. I know it’s not an easy road ahead of me, but I know I’ve got the strength to make it since I’ve already made it this far.
Another part of my way of dealing with the original diagnoses was a tattoo I got in December 2012. It was my very first tattoo, and still currently the only one I have.
It wasn’t easy for me to deal with the pain of the tattoo needle (I don’t have a high pain tolerance level), but I knew that if I kept pushing through it would eventually be over. And that’s the same way that I see my mental illnesses. While I know they’ll never be cured, I’ll always have them; they won’t always be as bad as they seem sometimes.
Katy is a college student studying American Sign Language Interpreting. She’s addicted to coffee and is always dreaming of more tattoos she wants to get. She’s the middle sibling of three. Blogging has becoming a form of self-therapy for her over the years. You can find her online: