I’ve had anxiety as long as I can remember. I didn’t talk to people I didn’t know and I always stayed by my mother’s side. I was always emotional & couldn’t get control of it. When I started college, I managed to run off 2 roommates the first semester, probably due to my instability. I was all over the place. When the depression started the 2nd semester of my freshman year and didn’t go away, I sought help at the schools counseling center. The counselor told me he thought I was manic-depressive and they weren’t equipped to help me. I would have to see a psychiatrist. I thought they were crazy. No way I had a serious mental illness. A year & a half later I was married and pregnant.
When I was pregnant my moods were all over the place. After my daughter was born I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and given my first antidepressant. I finally got some relief. I went off it 3 years later to have another baby but they immediately put me back on after my 2nd daughter was born. A few months later, after some marital issues, my anxiety got out of control so my doctor prescribed Xanex. The antidepressant stopped working a short time later, so they replaced it with another one that would also help my anxiety. Relief came again for a few years until the insomnia started. My doctor put me on a sleep aid but the insomnia came back after a month or so. When I went back, my doctor looked at my file and I could see in his face that he had a lightbulb moment. He asked a few questions and then gave me his diagnosis, “I think you have bipolar II disorder.” I was 28.
After my diagnosis, I was referred to a psychiatrist and after 7 years, several med changes, a divorce, and a 6 month long, life threatening depression, I made some life changes. I quit work and filed for disability. I also stopped dating for a while, (I did eventually remarry.) I focused on me and my kids. Over the last 4 years, I try to keep my illness under control with the help of my husband and by keeping my routine fairly simple. I exercise and try to stay positive. I routinely see my psychiatrist and take my meds as prescribed. I keep track of changes in my moods and my triggers so I won’t be surprised by an episode. Helping others has been an outlet for me. I help animals at my local shelter and people through my Instagram @livingthisbipolarlife. I want people to see how someone with mental illness can live a “normal” life and to end the stigma behind mental illness because we are just like everyone else.