Being Diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder
I was eleven years old when I first heard the term Bipolar 1 Disorder. Many times, people joke about it being the “diagnosis” of this period, but for me, the diagnosis came when it was still “taboo.” Bipolar 1 Disorder is not often diagnosed in someone so young, but occasionally, the symptoms are already present. In fact, it is possible someone may receive an ADHD diagnosis at a very young age that progresses to Bipolar 1 Disorder as they become older. My diagnosis came after a physician would administer Paxil at the age of 11 and within a month, I entered into Manic Psychosis.
During this period, I refused to eat or sleep and was always convinced I had to either being cleaning, working on homework, or working out. If this wasn’t difficult enough, I would then begin suffering from hallucinations and became convinced my parents were waiting for me to sleep so they could either admit to a hospital or kill me. This would lead to an interesting three months, and then a severe withdrawal from being abruptly removed from a high dose of Paxil. It was not pretty.
Unfortunately, this would only be the beginning of the rollercoaster I have learned to accept as my life. At the age of 16, I would be in a car accident which caused damage to my school and memories. At 18, I entered my first marriage which proved to be an abusive nightmare. I was addicted to drugs and alcohol and admitted into the hospital for a psychosis event at the age of 19. At the age of 21 I was divorced and then at 23, I remarried, but it was annulled shortly after. Doctors attempted to prescribe both anti-depressants and mood stabilizer, but allergic reactions made these impossible.
Now, all of this sounds horrible (and in many ways it was), but it is nothing compared to the extent of my disorder. At the age of 26, after finally returning to my hometown and moving in with a drug dealer, my parents finally realized something was seriously wrong, especially after being called to the hospital for what would be my 59th attempt at suicide. Two weeks later, failed a drug test and the evidence was available. So what could be done?
Fortunately, my mother was determined to uncover a place to get some help and this would lead me to Warrenville, Illinois in 2009 to attempt approach the disorder from an orthomolecular perspective. I would begin my journey to finally claiming a sense of normality I had never before known, and I was 26 years old. At this first appointment, I would discover not only that I had Bipolar 1 Disorder, but several other orders. Even worse, I was an unusual individual with the disorder.
Following My Journey
Unlike most who cycle and the receive a “break” from the “madness,” I remained in manias for 9 months of the year, and then crashed into severe depression. Yay for me! (Serious sarcasm oozing in this statement by the way!) After almost six months, I was functional for the most part. The hallucinations were at a minimal, no major manic or depressed moods were occurring. It seemed almost like a dream. It would be later that year I would meet my amazing husband and for once it seemed like I would have a chance at a normal life.
After almost six months, I was functional for the most part. The hallucinations were at a minimal, no major manic or depressed moods were occurring. It seemed almost like a dream. It would be later that year I would meet my amazing husband and for once it seemed like I would have a chance at a normal life.
In 2010, I would marry my wonderful husband, and in time, would become complacent. I took my prescribed program without fail until early October 2016, when several of the nutrients on my program did not arrive on time. I had contacted the pharmacy, but with no luck. I took a deep breath, I could handle this, at least that is what I tried to tell myself. Unfortunately, this stupidity would almost cost me the love of my life. Unlike many with the disorder, because of my past, I tend to avoid physical violence; instead, I become extremely self-destructive. The first sign something was wrong was that for the first time in eight years, I thought I needed alcohol every day… Then, the inability to sleep… Followed by wanting to change everything about me… It was a cycle I hadn’t seen in so long, I didn’t recognize it.
Still, it would worsen. See, for me, the most unimaginable outcome in life would be not to have my husband by my side. Can you guess where this is going? Fortunately, I did not cheat on my husband, but it was close. It was the evening this almost happened, I had to let my husband know everything. He discovered how close it had come to me cheating and I will never understand how he could forgive me, but I am grateful for the forgiveness. Even worse, my husband also had to prepare to face something I hoped he would never see. Because of this, he would have to see the full extent of my illness.
It has been almost four months now, and I am still fighting to return to normal, but it was because of this experience I realized, I need to help others understand if you or someone you love suffers from Bipolar 1 Disorder, or really any mental health disorder, it is a disease which can control their lives and actions. Things they may do when in psychosis are not the person they are, and the words they say are a defense mechanism and not meant to be a direct attack.
Understanding Bipolar 1 Disorder
Other terms connected with the disorder include Bipolar Affective Disorder or Manic-Depressive Illness. No matter the term attached to the disorder, the individual is sick with a disease which can become debilitating.
Sometimes, the smallest signs can prove to be a clue to the nightmare waiting to emerge. The challenge of living with Bipolar 1 Disorder leads to either euphoria or irritability (I am euphoric). WebMD identifies some abnormal behavior to appear during a Manic episode include:
- Rapid thoughts
- Rapid, uninterruptable speech
- Increased energy in connection with decreased sleep
- Inflated personal views (your self-confidence soars)
- Excessive spending on unnecessary items
- Hypersexuality – Because of this trait, it is not uncommon for someone in the clutches of a mania to become sexually involved with someone who they would never otherwise be with
- Substance abuse – both drugs and alcohol
It is during this “stage” of the disease, one can many times lose touch with reality and even enter into psychosis. Even worse, they may suffer from delusions and begin to pursue dangerous risks or activities.
Sadly, what goes up, must also come down. When I shift into a depression, I literally crash. Individuals and doctors claim the depression is similar to clinical depression; however, I would question the validity of this declaration. The time of crash leads me to a place where I cannot get out of bed without a lot of effort, and many times, this effort is more than I can bear. Do not touch me, do not expect me to eat, and do not expect me to smile.
I enter into a dark void and the only light I can see exists through accomplishing death through suicide. It does not matter what is going on, when this “crash” hits, I am finished. I may sleep for 18 hours a day, get up and go to the restroom, then go back to bed. During this part of the illness, I do not function in any capacity.
In the time ahead, I will be delving a little deeper into both mania and depression, but this at least gives a good start to understanding. The process will take time to help others understand, and I hope it is a journey you are willing to take with me. I live with an illness I would wish on no one, and I would give anything not suffer from its grip, but I have to move forward and look ahead.