Some people are able to be diagnosed with certain mental illnesses by small actions and symptoms. Often times more severe forms of mental illness surface in a person’s early 20s. I didn’t really meet either of those criteria. I was diagnosed after being released from a 72 hour hold in a psych ward after having tried to kill myself. For some reason today, like it often does, I thought of that night and how much I would have missed had I succeeded in my task, how hurt my family would be and what a hole I would have left in this world.
Depression. I have dealt with depression since junior high when I came up with my first plan to kill myself. That same depression followed me on and off into high school and the same into college. I never understood it other than I never felt like I was never “enough.” I always wanted to be perfect. Please, God, make me perfect. But everyone knows that is not possible, well, everyone, but me it seems.
So college happened and sure there were a few fire fueled nights roaming round a dark campus, but nothing close to what I now know as mania. After college there was work and the introduction to anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder – though just a taste, like everything, it would get worse.
Why don’t we fast forward to trying to kill oneself, or rather, myself? I had no intention of doing it. No, really, I did not plan to try and take my own life, it just kind of happened. I was wildly happy one minute and then super depressed the next. Downed some pills. Wrote a note and went to sleep. End of life (or so I thought). Obviously, I didn’t die.
So once I left the psych ward I was flown back to OKC, like an invalid, with my mom. My dad drove my car and belongings that had only made the trip a little more than a week prior halfway across the country. I lived with my parents and immediately I went to see a psych doc. He asked the right questions and we found the right diagnosis: Bipolar 1. In addition I still had the anxiety disorder and OCD. Batting 1000!
I did very strange things such as climb high in a tree in a very short sequin dress on a Tuesday early evening. Why? Because why the hell not?! I climbed on the roof, 3 stories up, at 2 in the morning and looked out over my neighborhood like an owl. Sometimes I believed I could fly from that roof. That was dangerous I know now. Back then I didn’t.
I split my wrist wide open one afternoon, I hadn’t meant to cut that deep, but damn it, I shouldn’t have been cutting at all. My mom took me to the ER and had it stitched up. I was assigned to the psych ward.
It’s hard to explain. I never liked cutting to hurt or feel pain. I did it to shut off the screaming reel of “Cut your wrist! Cut your wrist! Cut your wrist!” inside my head. Once I did what it was demanding me to do everything went silent. A complete calm.
After a year of getting back on my feet I moved out to graduate school to study writing. It was very, very hard to be on my own. My anxiety peaked, my OCD was in full force, my moods were a full on roller coaster ride. After the first semester I took a leave of absence. I hate that. It is just one more thing I lost to my illness.
I then moved in with my now ex-boyfriend. I started getting even more mood shifts. Depression that kept me in bed all day. My now ex-boyfriend would come home and just lay with me. Knowing words were too hard for me to come by. Oh and the mania, dancing naked in the living room with the music blasting. So much sex. Then I tried to kill myself again. This time I had to drink charcoal at the hospital. NASTY. I somehow ended up at the wrong place. Instead of Virginia Beach Psych, I was admitted to an addiction place for 7 days.
The boyfriend and I broke up. I started fresh in Tennessee. I found someone to try and save so I wouldn’t have to save myself anymore. He was a lot of work and brought out the worst of me in a lot of ways, but at least I didn’t have to look in the mirror. I didn’t have to see BIPOLAR everyday. I rode the coaster. Sometimes it was really bad like the night I took as many pills of whatever prescriptions I had and had to be taken once again to the hospital for a 9 day lock-up.
I now live near my family so when things get hard they can be there to help me and in the past couple of years my illness has become harder to navigate. I am now diagnosed with Bipolar 1 with psychosis, Severe Anxiety Disorder, OCD, and Personality Disorder. Basically, I am a mess. But I try. I try so hard to be “normal.” I try to accomplish things. I try to hold my shit together and as you can see by my diagnosis, that is no easy task. So when I say I am having a rough day, trust me, I mean it because every other day I am dealing with all these mental illnesses and not calling it rough, just trying to keep my head above water.