I want to share my personal experience of what happened when I was Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at 18, and how much I struggled with what this illness would have in store for me while left untreated, ultimately destroying a big chunk of my youth. I just didn’t comply or believe it for a very long time until I spun completely out of control. So this is the story of my stubborn youth, which is putting it lightly.
In my late teens and early twenties, before I was properly medicated, let alone taking my diagnosis seriously, I honestly thought I was God’s gift to everyone. I would just party for days and would do all kinds of drugs because it felt so great and I just thought it was what we all did in college, I really thought I would be ok after taking molly and ecstasy for a month straight. When I wasn’t doing drugs to get high out of my mind, I was at least at the club 3 times a week until 3am getting wasted and belligerent.
I literally hated being alone and I wanted to do things all the time. Anything. I had to be out of the house doing something that was fun, yet destructive. I used to have a lot of one night stands, way too many of them. I can’t even remember their names, or if I even asked what their names were because I probably didn’t care anyways, because I was just using them for sex. I put myself in incredibly dangerous situations. One time after leaving a bar with a “friend” I blacked out and woke up face down on the side of the road, very far away from where I was. I went to jail for a horrible DUI and again for Domestic Battery due to hitting an ex boyfriend, who was a drug addict. I have a criminal record. I honestly believe that my early 20s was just one gigantic manic episode on top of me being an extremely naive and selfish girl.
I became less symptomatic the older I got, mainly because my friends started getting jobs and were starting families like normal people. Yet I still felt the need to be doing something stimulating all the time, I didn’t care about my future. I just wanted to live fast. I experimented with drugs I don’t want to mention just because I wanted to know what they felt like, just for the fun of it, I have tried just about everything. I wanted to feel everything and nothing at the same time. I finally went to rehab, not once but twice because I wanted to get clean, my life was unmanageable and I was in a toxic relationship with someone who abused narcotic pain medications which didn’t help.
I lost my father suddenly when I was 26. He was killed in a plane crash and it was absolutely devastating. I still miss him every single day. At the same time I found out my then boyfriend was cheating on me, obviously lying about it, and on top of it he showed complete disregard and disrespect for the loss of my dad which was the final straw. I will never forgive that heartless boy for adding salt to my wounds. This tremendous grief triggered the heaviest downward spiral and lasted for about a year and a half.
I isolated myself from everyone, even my mother, who just lost her husband and needed her daughters. I felt bad, guilty and dirty for my past. I stayed home and played video games at my house and did nothing else. I lost all of my friends because I never kept in touch anymore and I just wanted to be alone. I lost so much weight because I was never hungry and food tasted like nothing. I looked sick, I only weighed 95 lbs, which is the smallest I have ever been. I smoked packs of cigarettes for hours on the back porch, I was mostly alone and I was also heavily smoking weed to numb the pain. I cried and just wished I could trade my dad’s death for my own because I felt I deserved to die, not him. My dad was my idol and he was there when I needed him, when no one else wanted to help me, he pushed me to do better. Losing him was the worst pain I have ever felt.
I continued to beat myself up. I hated myself, the person I was, the emptiness and loneliness I felt and I wanted to disappear. I thought about dying a lot and at one point really thought about taking my life. I stopped feeling that way real quick because I thought about what that would do to my mom and how selfish I was. I wanted and needed to be a better daughter to my mom and a better sister to my younger sister. We all needed each other. My mom and I began to speak more openly and we started having adult conversations for the first time. I was used to being treated like a child before that because it was honestly how I acted, like a child. I now have a strong relationship with her. I quit smoking weed and I stopped drinking immediately. I was done covering up my illness with drugs and alcohol because I began to understand the true nature of this disorder, and how self medicating is the worse thing I could possibly be doing.
When I was around 27 or 28 I really grew up fast and started to kick into gear hard because the past me was never going to show up again. Something just clicked and I started to take mental illness seriously and I wanted to be a better person. I started seeing a new psychiatrist who I am completely honest with, and I am now on the right medications, and taking them as prescribed because that is part of my treatment and stability. I’m a completely different person. I care, I love, I don’t use drugs and alcohol to cope. I have a wonderful relationship with my family and my fiance. I am stable and happy and I am continuing to flourish and I am growing stronger every day. I try not to regret the past because in all honesty, this is what made me grow up and helped heal me. Today, I try and help others who battle mental illness because I know how much it hurts, I have felt it to its core. My past has caused me to become an advocate and a strong believer that Bipolar Disorder does not define a person, and stability is maintainable. I will never stop fighting for myself and for others who battle this because it can be extremely difficult without support.
I hope this sends a positive message. This is not a post asking for pity. I wrote this because this time in my life was how I became strong, how I saved my life and how I got better. This is what happened when I didn’t know what was happening to me and Bipolar Disorder caused that much hardship left untreated and ignored. I take my life seriously now, and I never take anything for granted because I am lucky to be here, and I am well now.