I’ll never forget the moment when all the pieces fell into place and I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.
I was living in Florida at the time and in a relationship, cause you know me, if I believe in something I’ll uproot and travel across the US to give it a go. I was over at his apartment and my sister called and pulled one of those, “Do you have a minute to chat?…”
I walked outside, phone in hand and stood beneath the streetlight and tall Florida pines. At the time, my sister was working at a MHMR (Mental Health and Mental Retardation, I know, intense name) in West Texas. I’m still amazed at the work she has done. This job in particular. She would travel to people’s homes, enter into their world, love on them and make sure they’re taking their meds. The stories she told me truly blew my mind and stick with me to this day.
Side note, of all the advancements we have made in this world in the things that are openly talked about, I believe that mental health and all its facets are still not truly discussed or understood. Anyhoodle.
As I was standing in the dark under the pines she started telling me about one of her Bipolar patients. Gently she said that one day she was looking over her file and it struck her: “This is Ellen.”
After the shock and disbelief subsided, I was able to take in more of what she was saying and things started clicking. Ohhhh so when I stay up all night running around my house from color coding my clothes, to cleaning baseboards and vacuuming underneath the fridge.. all night.. that’s why I’m doing it. Ohhhh when I crash later into a pit of despair.. that’s what’s happening. So when I feel like the concrete is a bounce house, that’s what’s going on…
It was oddly freeing. I’ve been struggling my whole life and then when I saw the description in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that described me to a T, I felt like I was no longer struggling alone. So others are experiencing the same thing??
This began a process of me going to a Psychiatrist, getting officially diagnosed, and then the doosey. I had to get on meds.
It seems like such a natural progression, one that I would have embraced but I didn’t. For almost over a year.
The thought of popping a pill every day, even worse, being told that I needed to, that my sanity and health depended on it, was one of the most discouraging things.
“Am I messed up? Do I need to be fixed? How will it change my thoughts? So I have to be dependent on this pill? What happens if I don’t take it? Will my brain explode? Am I less of a person? What is normal anyway? Will I lose my creativity?” On and on.
As the months progressed, another failed relationship, isolation and no sleep, I finally gave in. I was stuck in a hole and I had to admit that I needed help getting out.
There is no over exaggeration how huge of a step that first one was for me. I needed help. I couldn’t do it on my own. Feeling defeated and desperate, I started the medication.
I wish I could say that it was rainbows and butterflies after this first step but oh my, it wasn’t. There is a balance of finding a medication that works on the brain and the body can handle the side effects. My poor body could not and I entered into one of the darkest years of my life. Trying one after another of mood altering, anti-psychotics is not easy for any body to handle. I was all over the place; highs and lows, weird rashes, out of touch with reality, no sleep, too much sleep, it was a mess.
A key piece of the puzzle fell in to place when I found the right doctor. He is a genius with medicine, understands how the brain works and how meds will effect it. He was also sensitive to the fact that I tried so many meds in a short amount of time and understood that we needed to take it slow, with itty bitty dosages. I truly credit him to saving my life. Him, Mama and Jesus.
Why the share-all post? I’ll tell you. Wether you’re bipolar, depressed, anxious or just in a dark season, I understand how hard it is to admit that you need help. More so, I understand the defeat one feels when you realize you have to rely on a pill to get you through your day. It’s a hard, difficult path. But you are not alone, no matter how isolated you feel, you are not alone.
I used to think that I was the only one who struggled, who has ever felt so much pain. Being imbalanced can convince you of the most deceitful lies. But we all have a story. We all have our stuff. Official diagnosis or not, pain is pain.
With the help of my doctor I found some medicine that worked. I didn’t realize how imbalanced I was until I became balanced. Getting through the day was not overwhelming. I could sleep. I drew closer to my family and friends and started working through the pain I caused them. I grew up a bit and started focusing on others instead of my all consuming mess. It’s hard to grow close to others when you feel so confused, anxious and distant.
Almost nine years later after being on the same pill, I realized it stopped working. My brain felt like it was unraveling. All meds have a shelf life, and my time was up. So here I am again going through the difficult process of finding medicine that works and one that my body can handle. I feel out of control, pretty helpless and I’m feeling fresh the pain of being so dependent on something outside of me.
I like to think that I got my stuff together, I don’t need anyone’s help, I’m a super rockstar. Buuuut I’m not. I do need help. I need my daily pill, I need support and understanding from my family and friends, I need my doctor.
Self sufficiency is so praised and revered these days that I start to convince myself it is a necessary truth. I don’t believe it is. I believe we were created by a loving God who designed us for community. When I am weak, others can be strong. I can’t do it on my own, and I don’t have to. There is a Heavenly Father that craves my attention and longs for me to rely on Him.
Where are you in this battle? If not yourself, I guarantee you know someone who is struggling. Are you scared to take meds? Do you feel like you are fighting alone? Have you just been making it through the day?
There’s always a first step, and that can be the hardest – admitting you need help. Tell a friend, a family member. Have the courage to take that first step. You are not alone.
“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay O my God!” Psalm 40:17
If you feel like you have no one to talk to, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Do you have questions about meds or doctors? Shoot me a note. I’d love to hear from you.