How Did I Get Here?

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!

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3 responses to “How Did I Get Here?

  1. You can’t play the “what if” game. It will drive you mad. I was under a therapist’s care for 10 years and she had no clue. I went to a special counselor and said, I think there’s something going on and he said, oh, it’s all situational. It generally takes folks 10 years to get a correct diagnosis. FWIW, I probably had my first manic episode my senior year of college (at age 20). I was not diagnosed until I was 27. And actually, as sad as this may come out…I’m grateful that I didn’t have all the meds in my twenties. I was under the illusion of normalcy, and not a danger to myself or others. By 27, yes, I needed intervention. And I got it. Now at 39, I’m really growing into me as a grown-up. And it feels good.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. It was nice not to be on all the meds in my 20’s, tho I’m pretty sure I still needed them pretty bad. And I was under counselors’ care off and on for 10 years without anyone knowing because I always had a situation that caused a mood swing. I’m so grateful to hear others’ stories and find that I’m not alone!

  2. You’re definitely not alone. I’m glad you’re piecing together your history, praying it will provide you with a good sense of the resources and progress that the future can hold. Sending love your way!

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