One of the things I talked about with my mom today was how did this whole bipolar and anxiety disorder thing start. When did I first start showing symptoms? So we shared stories from growing up to see when I started manifesting symptoms.
I was always a sensitive child — easily saddened by situations, but not prone to depression — easily upset or brought into line with just a cross-eyed look –felt things deeply and personally. At 13 I felt depressed when I learned I would need spinal reconstruction because of scoliosis. And I learned from family and society to bury that feeling and cover it with optimism and making the best of the situation. I think–honestly–that I struggled with depression off and on for 3 years as I learned to deal with the changed body, and that I mostly buried the feeling and put on a happy face.
But we could not think of a single hypomanic or manic episode until my first semester of college at the age of 17. I was at an evening vespers service and another young woman shared her faith story surrounding her spinal reconstruction after a car accident. Her story triggered feelings in me that night that sent me into a tailspin. Looking back I think I felt the depression and strangeness and awkwardness that I had denied myself. And so I felt haunted or followed as I walked around half the campus that night. And I felt a specialness like a special calling, or a direct connection to God. I stayed up most of the night and tried to bury the feeling by studying.
Several days later, this was quickly followed by a first, short bout with depression.
At the time, especially during that first year of college, I wish I had followed up on my instinct that something was really wrong since my moods were cycling. I just chalked it up to adolescent moodiness and adjusting to life changes. Who knows what would have been had I sought treatment, had I known to Seek treatment!
C’est la vie!