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From Partying to Peace with Bipolar Disorder

From Partying to Peace with Bipolar Disorder

I was born on October 7th 1991; I was my parents’ first child and they were happily expecting me. They obviously had no idea what life had in store for them. From birth you could tell there was something different about me, I would constantly cry for hours and for no apparent reason. By 2 years old, I’d refused to sleep every night because I wanted to play. My parents took me many times to see the family doctor, but he said I was just a crying baby and as I grew older, it would get better. Years went by and things just got harder as I couldn’t make any friends in school because I wouldn’t fit in anywhere. In grade twelve the ‘friends’ I thought I had turned their backs on me and threatened me daily. They even came to my house at night, while my parents were gone on vacation, wearing ski masks knocking on my doors. That was a week before my prom, no wonder I refused to attend.

The Party Scene and Addiction

Finally, once out of school I made new, older friends quickly; they were into alcohol. I loved alcohol; it seemed to drown everything away so quickly. Almost nightly, I would attend a bar or a club to drink, everything seemed so much better that way. I started experimenting with drugs and I became very addicted. To me, those pills were like magic and giving me super powers. It gave me the ability to dance all night and to lose weight at the same time. I lived on pills for a few months but wanted to try something different. When I started hanging out with a new crowd of friends I was able to put my hands on some very dangerous drugs. Heroin became my best friend; I loved it so much in fact I overdosed twice within a month. But after the second time, I realized how lucky I was to survive and decided to sober up forever, and to this day I remain clean & sober. However, after a few years my life was just not getting any better, my head was in a very dark place, and I had my first suicide attempt. I went to the hospital, never saw a doctor but got diagnosed by a resident. We talked for only 20 minutes and he told me I had ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’. He said there were no medications but only therapy. So, I followed Group Therapy and Individual Therapy every week but things never seemed to get better. My ups and downs weren’t going away and I was always acting out on impulse.

Finding Peace with Bipolar Disorder

Three long years later my boyfriend and I moved into our first home together, Within months, I found this amazing family doctor who took the time to listen to me and finally diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder. I have been off work for 6 months and I am working towards my future. I take daily medications and follow weekly therapy and I can tell you, the difference is like black and white. I had no idea what it was like to go through life without all those ups and downs but I now am in control of my emotions, living peacefully.

All this to say; whoever you are and wherever you are, don’t give up. This life has so much to offer, but you have to be willing to make some sacrifices and tough decisions.  You have to keep your head up, there’s a reason why you’re still here. Somebody out there is willing to listen to you and you have to keep searching! Some people don’t understand the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of a mental health illness; it’s like not being diagnosed and treated for a broken foot and you need the right support to heal from your suffering. I believe you can’t live peacefully with an untreated mental illness, but in turning my own life around, I know now that total peace is possible. Thanks for reading, Sophie 🙂

 

Jenna’s Amazing Story! From Suicide Attempt to Recovery…

I’ve been given a lot of labels since I was 17 years old;. psychotic, alcoholic, drug addict, bulimic, cutter, depressed, and labeled as having post traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, and .

My Teen Years

When I was 13 years old, I began experiencing hypo-mania with lots of energy and really bizarre behavior. I remember one night I spent nearly an hour rolling on the ground back and forth in an empty parking lot late at night, laughing to myself. This was when my safe world changed into an unfamiliar place, which is what triggered the mania. I was abused for 3 months. The stress of the abuse triggered the start of my long battle with bipolar disorder. I told no one. I was all alone and terrified. For the next 3 years, the hypo-mania was my escape from reality.

At 16 years old, I had my first major depressive episode, so my doctor put me on medication, but I struggled with suicidal thoughts and impulses. I began harming myself and experimenting with alcohol.

Then at 17 years old, I began experiencing full blown mania with extreme rage, anger, agitation and felt completely out of control. I felt that I could talk to no one, and even if someone was there, I didn’t know how to reach out. So I continued to drink, and I continued to harm myself. I would stay up 2 to 3 days in a row when I was really manic, cycling back and forth from severe depression to mania. The depression was so dark; I would just daydream and fantasize about ways to end my life.  I often got delusional and psychotic. One night I tried to jump off a bridge, because I thought I was superman and wanted to fly.

Eventually, when I was 18 years old, I had my first of what would be many hospitalizations, after a suicide attempt. It was then that I was diagnosed with type rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder Type I. And even though it all made sense, it didn’t make it any easier.  I started using drugs. I would use drugs to get me out of a depression and when I wanted distance from the pain.

My life was in complete chaos, where every night was a struggle for my life, and my mom never knew if I would come back in the morning alive. I began having frequent contact with the police. Then I entered my first group home. It was a residential care facility with 24 hour staffing for those struggling with mental health and addictions. I couldn’t live on my own or with my mom anymore. I felt like I had lost everything and all the feelings from the abuse were still festering inside. So I continued to drink, cut and use, and the frequent trips to the hospital and police contact continued. I even went through 28 treatments of electric shock therapy in hopes of managing the mania and depression.

For the next 7 years, this was my life.shutterstock_154131002 (2)

My Life in my Twenties

When I was 25 years old, I entered an out patient treatment program called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). It was a 2-year program designed for treating life threatening behaviors with a combination of group and individual work with a counselor. It was the beginning of a big change in my life. For the first time ever, I felt hope. I felt like there was a way I could cope without drinking alcohol and cutting. Through a lot of drug and alcohol treatment and the DBT, I began to turn my life around. I got sober and clean and began to get stable on my medications. After a 12-year illness, I was finally starting to feel better.

In my own mind, there was a downside to getting clean and sober; I began to feel again. But instead of turning to cutting, drugs and alcohol to cope, I began binge-eating and then purging food. The next diagnosis was bulimia. It was 3 more years before I was accepted into a residential treatment centre in Vancouver for bulimia. I spent a year there. I began to feel again, and for the first time, really deal with the feelings and trauma I had from growing up without a father, the sexual abuse, all my hospital stays and the feelings I had around that period of my life.

bipolar babes story

Recovery is Always Possible

I am now 31 years old, and I am the happiest that I have ever been in my whole life. I am clean and sober, and am happy to say I no longer use the eating disorder to cope. For the last 3 years, I’ve been in school working on a music degree in hopes of teaching and performing piano, and I really like the music program I’m in. I live on my own, have a cat and we take good care of each other.

It has taken a LOT of hard work and a LOT of support, but I am living a life full of love, joy and happiness. I am still healing, still working hard at my recovery by practicing good self care. It shows me that a label is just a label, it doesn’t define who I am as a person and it certainly doesn’t mean that life is over.

Recovery is always possible.

Bipolar Babes stroy

A Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder Brought Salvation

bipolar babes storyMy story begins at the age of 16 or 17. I always knew that there was something not quite right within myself as things did not seem ‘perfect’. My mind was racing and I would need to seek out a quiet place, close my eyes and focus on something. I never spoke of these racing thoughts. I plugged along until I moved out to the West Coast to be with my new man. I realized that I was having manic episodes; getting so angry that I had to walk away. Then I would punish myself for getting angry.

At this point, I decided to get some help from my family doctor (GP) who put me on an antidepressant. This medication took the edge off until I got pregnant with my first daughter and I went off the medications altogether.

Despair and Struggle with my Mental Health Journey

I was diagnosed with postpartum depression after she was born and never was able to get treated with any other meds and was pregnant with my second daughter 10 months later. After the birth of my 2nd daughter I went off the deep end and there seemed to be no saving me and bringing me back to reality. I was not harmful to my babies, but I was in the deepest despair and turned reclusive with them.

I reached out at this time and went to see a counselor – she was an Angel. She got me into a postpartum group with other new Moms and this helped tremendously. Everything seemed rosy now and I could conquer the world.

Over the course of the next 3 years I was put on 4 different antidepressants but none of them shutterstock_78288958 (2)seemed to work. When my father passed away I hit an all-time low and this scared my husband. I was prescribed new medication which seemed to help. I continued to take this medication for 6 years not realizing I was not supposed to be taking it, or any of the other antidepressants that were continually being prescribed to basically ‘shut me up’ and send me on my merry way.

How Love Brought Hope

My husband watched me get deeper and deeper into this abyss. He took me out one sunny day and had an intervention with me. I was shocked and saddened that this person he was describing was actually me. I promised him that I would go to a doctor and finally confess that, yes, I was feeling suicidal along with those EXTREME highs and EXTREME lows. He scheduled a telephone consult with Mental Health and from there they got me in to see a Psychiatrist.

Salvation.

I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder and was told that antidepressants would do NOTHING for me and was FINALLY prescribed the correct medication. It has been just over a year taking this and I still have my highs and lows, but they are so much easier to handle for both myself and my family. I am now at the point in my life that I am not ashamed to tell people my story and realize that I am not alone.

This diagnosis does not define me as a person.

Theresa, An Amazing Bipolar Babe

Andrea Paquette, the Bipolar Babe on SHAW TV, Victoria

Thank you to Daphne Goode and SHAW TV in Victoria, BC for showcasing the Bipolar Babe story and the great work of the Bipolar Disorder Society of British Columbia. We are truly grateful for your support.

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