Bipolar Disorder How To Recognize the Signs And How To Cope

 When I was a child I believed in monsters, the one in my closet, the one under my bed and the one my parents always warned me about. But I didn't know about the one that lived in my head. I wouldn't find out that monsters are real and that sometimes they can live inside us without us knowing. I wouldn't meet him until many years later...when he got out of control.

My child hood was uneventful until my teen years. My parents separated and divorced. I moved to Texas with my mother. I began to suffer depressions, very deep and very intense ones. Everyone attributed them to the divorce and the move. At fourteen  I fell into a mood so black, I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't experience happiness, didn't want to be around anyone, and basically didn't want to live anymore. I swallowed a whole bottle of my mothers valium. At the hospital my stomach was pumped and I was sent home. As time went on the mood swings worsened and I would have fits of anger, become irritable, or feel uncontrollable rages. Then one day I woke up very very happy for no apparent reason. On top of the world I felt I could do anything. I wrote in my journal endlessly, enrolled in performing arts classes, became extremely socialable. I filled my to do list with so many things I had to write on the back. My grades were excellent, I stayed up all night listening to music and talking on the phone. My mother and new step-father were elated that I seemed like a normal teenager again. I fixed my hair and makeup, took great care of my personal hygiene and dressed to the nines. All the while continuing to write and perform, cheerleading, band, whatever was available I enrolled. I didn't need sleep and still had boundless energy. I was in my own little world. "Slow down" my friends told me "your going to fast." I would just laugh and reply "no your going to slow."  This elated phase lasted for about 2 months.

The dark clouds began to slowly cover me again. All the things that had held my interest for the past 2 months seemed boring. I was overwhelmed,exhausted, cried endlessly without knowing why and withdrew from family and friends. I stopped attending all of the activities I had enrolled in and once again took to my bed. I was tired, unhappy and couldn't sleep enough. In desperation I cut my wrists. At the hospital I was kept restrained, under observation, and in a locked unit for three days. After three days I was once again released and sent home,  no diagnosis, no medication. Just going through the mormal stages of teen life everyone said. She'll out grow it, it's just a phase. This so called phase of ups and downs lasted for years. During this period I was either sailing on clouds or sinking to the bottom of a dark black ocean not knowing how to swim. In the up phase I felt invincible, like I could do anything or be anything. In the downs I felt like nothing mattered, and I would lose the will to live. By this time I was in my thirties. Now everyone just considered it my personality.

In 1990 I married again for the third time, the previous marriages didn't last partly because of my moodiness. My new husband somehow was able to see that something was wrong. I suffered from paronoia, anxiety for no apparent reason, and continued the up and down cycles. Then one day lost in the darkness again and filled with depression, I decided once again to end it all. Once again I was hospitalized. This time it would be different. This time I would meet the monster in my head causing me the pain, face to face, and I would begin my journey to understanding and recovery.

By this time I had moved to a quiet little border town called Del Rio. It is on the border, 3 miles from Mexico. I was working for the 83rd Judicial District as an Interpreter and somehow barely managing to maintain my stability. Del Rio is a very beautiful and boasts a total of one hospital, and one red light in downtown before you reach the border. While in the Hospital I was visited by a psychiatrist from the mental health center who took a complete history. It included my childhood and teenage behaviors, my family situation and my recent suicide attempt as well as the prior ones. I was given a an appointment card for the next week, until then I was not to be left alone.

Arriving at the clinic for my appointment I was skeptical and afraid. I didn't want people to think I was seeing a shrink because they might think I was crazy. I did all the required paperwork and waited. When my name was called I slowly followed the doctor to her office.  I'm not crazy I told her. No Christal, you are not crazy. You have a mental illness called Bipolar disorder, that is the reason for the mood swings and feelings you are having. You have probally had it since your teen years. You also suffer from Post Traumatic Stress and severe Panic Disorder. When will it go away, how long do I have to take the medications before it goes away? The doctor explained to me that it does not go away but with proper treatment it can be managed. You can still have a life, as normal as you choose to make it.

It took two years before my medications were adjusted to the right levels. I had to change my diet, exercise, go to bed and get up at the same time. I had to set a schedule and not over-exert or over commit myself. I had to attend counseling sessions, see the doctor monthly and stick religiously to a medication regime. Little by little the turmoil inside me became to calm down. I felt better, my energy returned and I began to learn the tools I needed to manage my monster. I began writing, painting, and sculpture. I did breathing and relaxation. I began to take pride in myself again. My self confidence returned. I learned to notice when my moods were changing, how to avoid triggers that could set off an episode, but most important that I was still me only better.

I have been diagnosed now for ten and a half years. I am stable, no attempts on my life, able to control my moods to the extent that I have not been hospitalized for the ten years. I facilitate two support groups, one bi-lingual, twice a week. Since I am no longer able to work in corrections, I spent the ten years becoming trained to be a mental health counselor and suicide prevention counselor and most important a mental health advocta and master trainer for persons with Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses.

I also now have made friends with the monster in my head. I have learned to tame him, and in my up days he is my friend. My doctor says he is responsible for my creative talents, such as writing, learning foreign languages, painting and helping others not suffer the pain I went through.

Mental illness is often missed causing the person affected to suffer for years before it is recognized and diagnosed. There is hope. There is life even with mental illness. If you or a loved one exhibit any of the above mentioned symptoms, please consult your local mental health professional. There are many support groups available, you don;t have to do it alone.

My greatest wish is to terminate the stigma associated with a diagnosis of mental illness. That is why I made this hub, to share my story, to educate the community and to encourage others to seek help when needed.

Thanks for reading this article and GOD BLESS YOU.

Head Of Austin NAMI Assoc.  2003 SAN ANTONIO CONVENTION
Head Of Austin NAMI Assoc. 2003 SAN ANTONIO CONVENTION
NAMI NATIONAL CONFERENCE  SAN ANTONIO TEXAS 2003
NAMI NATIONAL CONFERENCE SAN ANTONIO TEXAS 2003
PRESIDENT OF NAMI NATIONAL  NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2003  SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
PRESIDENT OF NAMI NATIONAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2003 SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

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8 comments

kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 10 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Fantastic hub. Very honest and helpful. I admire your courage to share this with the world. You have my prayers along with my respect. Carry on the great work.


TXSasquatch 3 years ago

I thank you for bravely sharing your very personal story, and I must confess that it sounds familiar. I have loved ones who suffer from manic depression, and it is indeed a constant struggle. Thankfully their docs have found the right cocktail of meds, and they take them religiously, so that keeps the trouble to a minimum. Still, we need more people to speak up about manic-depressive disorder. Folks need to understand that it's a physical illness that manifests itself psychologically and that people who suffer from it aren't just "crazy." Thanks again for a great Hub!


Jen 4 years ago

my bff is my bipolar bear... and i love her with all my heart... but she doesnt take care of herself like she should she skips her meds and appointments and she has so many ups and downs....but her manic episodes are both fun yet upsetting and scary...she becomes wreckless, irresponsible, selfish and mean....she becomes so mean to me and at one point i was the only person she was nice to her family told me...I don't know what to do anymore i can't just walk away but there is no why i'm able to force her to grow up and take care of herself...and shes the only family i have... i'm lost, depressed and confused. I love my friend.... but i don't know what to say or think anymore...it sucks but shes all i have as far as family...so sometimes its really hare she can say the most hurtful things.... sometimes i just need to vent but i just wish i knew how to help her...

nothing seems to work... and i don't want to see her struggle or do bad in any way....ughhh


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 6 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

Zai,

I am so sorry for taking so long to answer your comment. I really appreciate you stopping by my hubs.As I explained above I have periods of depression which sometimes last for months. I am barely coming out of the latest one. Thank you so much for reading my articles.

Warmest regards, chris


Zai 6 years ago

Thank you for your story. Great story thanks for sharing.

merci


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 6 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

Thanks Tammy and Barranca,

it is difficult at time but I am learning to cope. My family is learning to understand that it not "just the way I am" Early diagnosis is essential to prevent years of pain and misunderstanding. My son is 8 he also sufferes from ADHD and pediatric Bipolar. I have two grown daughters who have been diagnosed but refuse to take the meds which alot of persons do, due to side effects. I'm hoping they will come around.


barranca profile image

barranca 6 years ago

Thank you for your story. I am sure it gives others with the same disorder hope that they too can learn to "live with the monster".


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

Great story thanks for sharing. Looking forward to more. Maybe add some pictures or videos or some links to mental health sites or help groups. More content gets you higher scores.

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