"I've invaded the walls of the asylums with my ink pen. The way they look at mental illness won't be the same again." ~Stanley Victor Paskavich
As I look at the quote above, I can fully understand what the poet means. For as long as I can remember, I have had 'issues'. Before my diagnosis in 2003, I knew that something was different about myself, but I just couldn't put a finger on it. I've suffered with depression for as long as I can remember. I felt like the world was against me because no one understood the feelings that I was experiencing, and on the other hand, couldn't even explain. I had no outlet, I trusted no one and I honestly felt like I was losing my mind. I can remember getting so angry and wanting to kill the world. I'd break things, yell, scream and say some of the most awful things out of my mouth in an effort to inflict as much pain on to others as I was feeling on the inside.
In high school, I can remember a lot of 'high' moments. I sometimes refer to these as my 'super happy moments'. I would talk erratically, jumping from subject to subject, expressing the most extreme amounts of energy and confusing everyone around me. I can remember riding in the car with my god-sister and her stopping to look at me as she asked, " What in the hell are you talking about? We were not even on that subject, how did you get there?" I'd just laugh it off. I can remember having suicidal thoughts and attempting to rid myself, of myself, so many times. Oh, the extreme measures I went to in an attempt to escape this battle going on in my head.
That's what it feels like you know, a battle going on inside of me. A losing battle. Having weird thoughts, my mind constantly going and going, as if someone has stepped on the accelerator in my brain and won't let up off the gas. For so long, I just began to accept what everyone around me always said to me. I was crazy. I lived with this for years. The cycle of the ups and downs just going on and on, and I learned to release the pain and tension in some of the most destructive ways. One of them being self-mutilation. I became a cutter. I can remember the first time I did this. I had become so angry and I was home alone. I broke things and I yelled and cursed. I began to hit myself to hurt the outside as much as the inside hurt. Then before I knew it, I had a razor in my hand and I just began to slash my chest. I did this in a state of euphoria, not really even feeling the pain. It was all so surreal. It was happening, but I couldn't feel it. But, the more I did it, it was like the pain oozed out. And things calmed down. And things were okay. This didn't last long, the cutting, and I'm happy that I found another outlet- writing.
I kept journals and I poured out my feelings. I wrote about the good days and the bad days, how I wanted to hurt others. I wrote out my plans of how I would get everyone back that hurt me. (I still write, but now, it's short stories and poetry.) All the while I felt so unloved because no one noticed what I was going through. I developed OCD because in an attempt to 'calm my mind', I would count things. This actually happened earlier in my life, but as time has progressed, this has become a hard habit to break. More like a nuisance. I would also write words over and over in cursive in my head until I no longer focused on 'the problem', or I was able to 'quiet my mind down'.
In 2003, I gave birth to my oldest son. Shortly after, I began having some crazy thoughts and although I never had the urge to hurt my child, I did want to hurt myself. Before it could get to that point, I contacted my doctor and explained to him what was going on. He told me to come see him the next day. I did, and regretted it. He listened to me talk and then he referred me to go see someone else who knew more about the situation than he. Unbeknownst to me, I was sent to a psychiatrist, who after listening to me rant, cry and express all the things that I had been experiencing, announced that I was clinically depressed and had been for a while. She also said that she believed I was suffering from Postpartum Depression which was making it all worse. And because they felt that I was a threat to myself and possibly others, I was being admitted and started on medication. I died inside. I hated my doctor, I hated the psychiatrist and I hated myself for telling it.
I went through a lot of meds before they found a combination that would help my problem. Weekly visits to a psychiatrist also helped uncover the fact that there was a name to be put to the madness I had been experiencing for so long - Bipolar Disorder. At first, I didn't want to accept it, especially when I found that it was also referred to as Manic Depression. The first thought I had was of Mike Tyson revealing that he was diagnosed as Manic Depressive after he chased his then wife, Robin Givens, her mother and a female aide through a hotel in Moscow. Ha! That was hilarious. And I can remember calling him crazy. But, now I had been diagnosed with the same thing. And I was not crazy.
I refused to take the 'hard' drugs that the doctors wanted to put me on, mainly because I didn't like the possible permanent damage that could be done in the long run. So, my doctor worked with me and I was prescribed anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and meds to 'quiet' my brain down at night so that I could rest. This worked for a while, as long as I took them. But, I recently stopped. Why? Because I didn't want to be dependent upon pills for the rest of my life. I did great for a while handling the situation, but I notice that lately, a lot of the symptoms are returning. It's time to make an appointment. I want to do this, not only for myself, but because now, I have two sons. And I also have a guy in my life who I love very dearly. He puts up with a lot of my crap - the mood swings, my rants... he bears the brunt of it. And although he doesn't fully understand it, he sticks by me. I appreciate him, although it may not seem so at times. And aside from the fact that this is still a hard battle to deal with, I'm not gonna give up and I hope he doesn't give up on me. If he can do that, then he's okay with me. As long as he doesn't call me crazy. :)