If my mental illness was my name, then I would have to be introduced: Bipolar Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Short-term Auditory Memory Dysfunction. A mouthful to be sure, and not a name I’m too chummy with. Then there is one that I rarely tell anyone. It’s the reason I have my dog (an emotional support animal), Lacey. I’m considered passive suicidal.

Most of my life I went undiagnosed, or they were just not given the consideration they should have been. I was chronically depressed. I always found it hard to make friends. I just wanted to die. I made two attempts at it as a teenager, neither successful. Later as an adult, when stress and pain got to be too much, I would get into my car. I thought it was a great plan until someone pointed out that I was disconnecting and not coming back to myself until about two or three hours later down the road. Of course there was also the fact during my “episode” I was driving a thousand pound bullet. That one actually got to me. So instead, I just let it bottle all up inside me.

It wasn’t until February 9, 2010 that people started taking notice that there was something more wrong with me than they wanted to admit. I disappeared that winter night with wind-chills of around -20oF and was not adequately dressed. My therapist, my husband (now ex-husband), 911, and the police were looking for me. Me? I had no idea where I was, where I was going; I had no idea of where I was in the universe. I didn’t honestly care. I’m told it was a psychotic break and was dissociative. The hospital was happy to take me in. Me? I was numb and heard everything from a distance. Nothing was real.

My family tried to understand, but they were clueless as to what to do for me. If I had hawked up a lung they could have something tangible to work with. My husband wanted to just “fix” it. I found myself treated like a child, lectured, treated like I was brain-dead sometimes. Because of my haunted expression of depression or the rapid breathless speaking, a lot of the “friends” I had at the time started to drift away. They couldn’t understand and didn’t want to try. When I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t do my recovery on my own with just my therapist, psychiatrist, and a two week stay with an adult partial hospitalization program, I made the decision to join a day rehabilitation program for people with mental illness. When I started there, I was so insecure, scared, anxious, alone, and did I mention scared? My husband and I were going through a divorce; some of my friends had outright abandoned me (which even today still tears at me…but what are you going to do?) When asked what I thought recovery would look like, my answer was simply, “I don’t want to be scared anymore.” I was also tired of being alone and not wanting to implode on myself

I’ve had several depressive “crashes. I’ve also had several manic episodes. I’m called a rapid cycler. But, I have actively worked on my recovery. I know when I’m crashing. I know when I’m going manic. I know what to do if they happen. I know it’s working, because I haven’t had to go back to the hospital. I’m tired of the medication. I hate they make me overheat. I almost lost the ability to drive my car, because one med made me and my doctor think I might have Narcolepsy (I don’t). I hate the Insomnia, I hate I will have to take these pills for the rest of my life. I love they keep me alive for myself, my children, and my dog. So I take them religiously.

There are some positives to come out of my story. I use humor a lot. And, I’ve discovered over time that I am a bit of smartass too. I love to share stories and tell jokes even when I’m feeling so bad I want to pack my bags and give up. I have found laughter has had a bigger healing effect than anything else. I also found writing, whether it’s journaling or creative writing, is a wonderful coping skill. I’ve made a couple of friends in the DPR. It’s good to have friends who have similar mental illnesses. I don’t have to prove anything to them. I have friends of the internet that have Bipolar Disorder. It helps to have them to reach out to when you feel you don’t have anyone else around to talk to.
In learning to cope with my mental illness I did discover one thing about me I hadn’t thought myself capable of…despite my need to isolate from time to time, I found a desire to help others like me with their mental illness. To that end, I enrolled in a Peer Support Specialist Training program. Haven’t done the internship yet, but I know I can do this. I mean I got this far didn’t I?

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Me-AvatarMother of 3 Boys (2 with ASDs and 3 with ADHD) and 1 Girl (Fur Covered, nuff said). Sufferer of Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, ADD, PTSD and mild Agoraphobia. Also has sensory issues. Peer Support Specialist in training. Wants world peace, acceptance of who we are, and chocolate. Wants an end to bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, arrogance, greed…oh never mind. where’s the chocolate?

Jae can be found on Facebook and Twitter

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