What was it like to get your diagnosis?
I will never forget sitting in that tiny room on a small couch in between my Mother & Grandmother. Where we were accompanied by three Psychiatrist, who had been watching & working with me all week. I just knew I was in the clear.. I was the best patient on the entire floor! I never disrespected or hurt anyone, Instead I did everything they asked of me with pleasure!
Throughout the week I watched a girl fight staff & get tranquilized, another girl threw herself to the floor & started banging her head against the door frame, she got strapped down & confined to her room for the rest of the time I was there. I listened as they told their stories of terrible childhoods, bad parents, drugs, alcohol, rape, running away, & ultimately attempting suicide… I watched as everyone in my group held their scars out, & talked about what led them to it. I was the only person (on that floor out of maybe 6-7 ) who had never cut their self…
After almost a week I got the call I was waiting for, my mom had great news. I was going home the next day, 2 days early for good behavior!!! Leaving early was my goal & I did it!! I was so happy for the meeting knowing I was finally going home shortly after! We all walked in & sat down together. I was grinning ear to ear, I just knew the DRs were going to give me a wonderful report. How could they not, after how wonderful I had been?
The only thing I can remember next was the woman Psychiatrist speaking for everyone, reading notes from a folder with my name on it. She started with “I am sorry to tell you all but Terri has Bipolar Disorder with Rage, Severe Depression, ADD/ADHD, & lastly Anxiety.”
Then one of the male DRs spoke up & explained that I have a Chemical Imbalance which meant my brain wasn’t producing enough or either produced too much endorphins. The last thing I remember from that day is how I felt hearing my diagnosis…
I went from already seeing myself as crazy to completely psychotic. I was sad again but as quickly as my sadness came it changed… My hurt turned to hate! I hated myself, I was a stupid & psychotic unloveable burden… & that went on for years & years.
What’s it like to be manic?
IT IS HAPPINESS, ENERGY, DETERMINATION, STRENGTH, PERSEVERANCE, STAMINA, RESILIENCE, WILLPOWER, CONFIDENCE, & SPUNK!
It is also unmindful, reckless, careless, distracting, & diverted! Even though I feel wonderful & full of life for the most part, I also feel thoughtless & scatterbrained! My anxiety gets 10x worse, & my RLS comes back with a vengeance… I get 1/2 the sleep I did before, & that is if I get any sleep!
The beginning of a Manic cycle is great! That is until you make it a few days in… The non-stop mind-racing thoughts & lack of sleep quickly takes a toll.
How does being Bipolar affect you day to day?
Some days I can’t stop eating & then some I don’t eat at all! When I’m depressed I hate leaving my home, I won’t even go grocery shopping. I wake up in the mornings trying to find a good reason to call out, & I have many times before! I snap to anger & rage over the slightest inconveniences. But the hardest & most embarrassing thing is personal hygiene… When I am depressed taking a bath, brushing my hair, washing my face, & brushing my teeth becomes a terrible chore.
How does being Bipolar affect your relationship with other people?
I feel like others view me as unreliable…
I tend to cancel plans often, I also ignore calls & messages. I am a terrible friend at times, I feel unworthy of the time & love they try to give me… I don’t deserve it.
In what way has it affected your career?
When I call out not only do I feel terrible for doing that to my boss & employees but, I also feel like a failure after for not going in & making the money I so desperately need to survive! I have done worse though… I have gotten in a few very heated arguments with bosses, one time so terrible I had the police called on me. I was jobless for three months after that…
Are you worried that your children might have bipolar disorder?
Absolutely this is by far my greatest fear! Not for what I would have to deal with because of it…. But for the suffering my children will endure. I don’t want them to feel the way I did as a child, or the way I do now! I’m terrified, I don’t want them to be anything like me. I don’t want my children growing up hating themselves & being suicidal. I don’t want them to have uncontrollable thoughts about being a burden on our family or not being loved at all. That’s what my fucked up brain had me thinking for years… Now I know but, didn’t figure it out till I was an adult. .
What are the worst prejudices you deal with?
The one I get the most & hate the most is…
“There’s no way you are Bipolar, you’re perfectly normal, I’ve never seen you act crazy or depressed.”
First off only an acquaintance would make that statement because, all my real family & friends already know the truth. & second I am amazing at hiding how I feel with “I’m tired” or “I’m sick”! So honestly no you probably haven’t seen me act out in anyway… I don’t express my true feelings to everyone.
“It’s all in your head you just gotta get over it.”
No dip Sherlock! It’s a Chronic Mental Illness! Like I stated previously… Anxiety & Restless Leg Syndrome are painfully irritating, & they both attack me from my head down to toes.
Can you be cured of bipolar disorder?
It’s a Chronic Illness… An illness my father inherited & passed down to me. He is 59 years old & still at war with his illnesses! So no it will never go away but over time you will learn how to cope. You will also get older & wiser which helps a lot since,
you are no longer an emotional misunderstood gullible child.
Terri Lee Elliott