Mental health is a very important issue for me. I have bipolar disorder and high anxiety, and it’s important for me to share my story and to do my part in spreading mental health awareness. My story is not an easy one to share, but I’ll try to tell as much as I can!
My childhood was relatively happy and stable. When I was about 10 years old, however, I began to have mood swings and depressions. At the time, I was diagnosed incorrectly by my family doctor as having depression, and I was put on the drug Celexa. Needless to say, Celexa didn’t do much for me, and my highs and lows just got worse, and my anxiety became a daily struggle. Family troubles didn’t help my disorder either.
At the age of 15, I was told by a theater teacher that I needed to lose some weight in order to get better roles (I was a talented singer). I remember reading in Teen Magazine (that tells my age, ha!) about this thing called bulimia where girls threw up in order to lose weight. My teenage brain told me that it was a grand idea, and I headed into my parents’ bathroom to vomit for my first time. This started my 16 year long battle with bulimia and anorexia.
Meanwhile, my moods kept getting worse and worse. I saw many different psychiatrists and counselors, but none of them helped me. I remember lashing out at my mother in despair one day because our theater wasn’t performing The Secret Garden (they opted for Oklahoma! instead, damn them) – that was an awful day for me and my poor mom.
I soon went off to college in 2003 to a different city and joined a sorority. Sadly, I felt that I didn’t fit in with my sorority sisters, and I kept throwing up and having long periods of sadness. In 2005, I had my first mental breakdown. I dropped out of school and came home, severely depressed and in a fog. I remember my mom trying to get me out of bed to walk at the park for just 10 minutes, and I cried the entire time … my mom and dad knew I needed help, so we went back to the current psychiatrist, and I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder and put on a mood stabilizer.
The mood stabilizers seemed to help, but I kept being put on different cocktails of medication when I badly needed consistency.
In 2007, I met my future husband … he was married at the time to another girl, but we were all friends and had a lovely summer together with horses.
In the fall of 2008, drama between my husband’s former wife and me caused me to be suicidal. Luke and I were in love then, but we didn’t show it out of respect for Luke’s ex-wife, but as fate has it, Luke’s ex left him, and we were able to finally show our love through long walks and talks over the drama. Sadly for me, Luke had to leave Amarillo to go live with his family in McKinney, and I was left alone and miserable without him. I overdosed on my medication, and I was hospitalized for the first time and taken to a psych ward. The psych ward in Amarillo is basically a miserable holding tank where no help is truly given – they just wait for you to seem stable and then release you back into society after being evaluated.
In November 2008, Luke and I decided that we couldn’t live without each other, and I asked Luke to come back to Amarillo and move into my apartment with me. He did just that! Meanwhile, I still was seeing an incompetent doctor who kept placing me on random medications in an effort to help me (it did not). About this time, I found my current counselor, Brenda. Brenda is seriously the most amazing, caring, intuitive, understanding counselor on the planet – I’ve seen many, many counselors, but Brenda just gets me and always has ideas for help (plus I think I’ve grown more receptive to talk therapy compared to when I was a teenager).
In 2009, I overdosed on my medications yet again. Back to the hospital, back to the psycho ward I went.
I began seeing Dr. Jenkins, my kick ass current doctor. He placed me on Latuda, a drug specifically for bipolar disorder which truly seemed to help my moods. He also tried TMS therapy on me (it caused me to become manic, but it was worth a try).
Luke and I married in April 2012 after I had a manic night and shaved my beautiful long hair off my head in January (worst decision ever). I slept often after getting married, and I was rather depressed.
I also began drinking heavily around this time, something that would plague me for the next four years.
In early 2016, I got drunk and took too many Xanax as an attempt to make myself feel better … I called my mom, and she took me to the hospital. Luckily the doctor decided not to admit me to the psych ward this time, but it was a miserable experience regardless.
In the summer of 2016, I dropped down to 109 pounds (I’m 5’10”), and my drinking was still rampant. Luke, my mom, and I finally decided that I needed to go to an eating disorder treatment center. I’m thankful for my time at the Eating Disorder Recovery Center in Denver for sure – it helped me get a hold on my bulimia, and I met some fabulous new friends who struggle with the same issues. I also was put on Gabapentin for my high anxiety there, a much better choice for me than Xanax or Klonopin (I had a seizure coming off Klonopin at the ED Recovery Center to boot).
Luke and I moved apartments in August 2016, and now we’re in a lovely new complex. I eat regular meals. My medications (Latuda, Trintellix, Buspar, Gabapentin, and Trazadone) work very well for me, and I am as stable as I can hope to be … I finally found the winning combination! Finally!
My moods and anxiety still show up in my life – my anxiety (usually in the form of irrational fears and racing heartbeat) comes out at night, and some days are simply better than others in the mood department (I tend to err on the side of depression in the wintertime). I am stable, however, and I truly am grateful for stability and sobriety. I do not work – my stability is a full-time job for me, and I’ve grown to accept that (I feel guilty often about this, but it’s for my own good). I also have committed to drinking no alcohol.
And that’s my mental health story. I think it’s important to share my story in order to raise awareness for bipolar disorder and anxiety – people have some many misconceptions about it out there, and I want to be a voice for my issues of bulimia, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. 🙂