This story was submitted to me by a member of my support group - her name is O Sun...
I came into this world breached. Feet first. But really, the delivery man forced me out head first with the use of forceps. Heaven only knows. Maybe he accidentally squeezed my delicate little cranium too tight with his tools triggering some kind of chemical eruption in my infant brain. Then again doctors are not supposed to reposition a breech by the head right? I couldn't say. What I do know is that from a very early age I had a heavy feeling of displacement. I have been on this search for something or someone to turn me around or realign my neural configuration.
I have lived most of my life shaken up by a volcanic tide of emotions. My moods are always oscillating and I am somewhere inside of them trying to find a life preserver be it illcit drugs (self destructive and futile), modern medicine (a work in progress that knaws at my patience), or therapy (compatibility also takes time and I am a tough match).
When I was first told "You are bipolar" I did not believe it. Not because I was ashamed or in denial, but because it was (and still is) the trend of the mental health world. Everyone under the sun was being diagnosed bipolar and I did not want to end up just another mistaken statistic. However, when I did my research, looking for symptoms and signs I could not relate to in order to challenge my diagnosis, I couldn't find an argument. I was actually overcome with a flood of relief. An explanation was given to me as to why I was experiencing such difficulty and pain in my life. I was able to stop punishing and blaming myself for my intense instability.
I have been hospitalized three times for depression. I was also in the hospital overnight because the cops came to my house and four pointed me. My family called the police because I was out of control and they were worried about what I would do if I left the house (which I really wanted to do at the time and probably would have ended up in some dark alley with strange people doing drugs). Drugs are very much a part of my story because I used them to medicate my uncomfortable fluctuations of mood. I have experienced extemely uncomfortable highs and detrimental lows quite rapidly. All my life I have been on this quest to make myself feel better or at least to get to know what it is like to feel semi-normal. I am dually diagnosed with addiction and bipolar and the road is a very hard and sometimes excruciatingly difficult one. I was put on disability last year because my condition makes it hard for me to hold down a job and fend for myself independently. I am thirty-one and I still live with my parents: I dream of one day having an apartment of my own like so many other people. I also dream of the day when I can feel comfortable in my own skin without drugs. I am sober now, but I am currently experiencing the depressive side of my illness that makes it hard for me to shower and put on my own two shoes in the morning. I have been through many pharmaceutical drugs, most to no avail, and I have to sit with this until my nurse practitioner comes up with the right combination. I feel like my life is in slow motion. I am trying to separate my feelings and intellect so that my intellect will tell me that I am moving through and this will pass. The highs I've experienced are twinged with irritability and it gets to the point where I want to hurt myself or someone else. I take an antipsychotic to relieve myself (and everyone else) of this state. I am currently in an outpatient program for the dually diagnosed and a DBT program to help regulate my moods. This program is like going to school and learning instructions for living; I seemed to miss out on the instructions early on and I get bored with them very easily. I am trying to learn to have patience in order to survive. It takes a lot of patience to get the insurance I need, the doctors I need, finding the right therapy, and not wanting to end my life when my moods start racing or slowing me down and shutting me off.
I watch people go to work and I watch them walk by me and drive and shop and I wonder why they seem so far away and why I don't feel as human as they seem to be. What would life be like if I did not have a mental illness or an addiction? Would it be easier? It looks very easy for some to do the day to day things that are so tremendously hard for me. It seems as if I am looking at life through a glass wall and I am stuck on the other side, in a different dimension. Sometimes it seems that I am a semblance of a person. I never quite feel whole. It is hard not to trust what I will be one minute or one day from the next. My goal is to one day be comfortable and stable and to know what consistency means. Until then...patience.