I was Thirty three years old and was being treated for depression. I had just given birth to my daughter in 1993 when I noticed something in me had changed. It wasn’t post partum depression though. I sought out the help of a general practioner and I had tried several antidepressants but none really worked. I don’t remember any of the names of the medications except one. The magic pill called xanax. That did the trick.
A series of things happened after I began treatment. I was referred to a psychiatrist for further evaluation. This was the doctor who prescribed the xanax. He had me on 5 mg per day. Could you imagine the state I was in. Nothing mattered. Everything was OK. I weighed about 125 lbs at that time so I believe the dose may have been a bit much.
Years past and out of almost out of nowhere, I was filing for divorce after 20 years of marriage. We had been together of for 22 years. I have little recollection of how this all took place but in February of 2003 I got remarried to a man that I had a six month long distance relationship with. I met him twice. He was the brother of one of my good friends at that time. I packed up my daughter who was 9 and moved to Ohio. What a mistake.
I was in therapy in Lisbon Ohio. One particular morning I was getting ready for my session. I took a nice jacuzzi bath, drank a couple of beers and took my xanax. I went to therapy and told my therapist what I had done. After that, she wouldn’t let me go and spoke with my doctor and decided I needed to be hospitalized for more intense treatment. I was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Youngstown where I would stay for the next two weeks.
I was taken off all meds so the doctor could observe me. There were cameras everywhere and that was one of the tools the doctor used to observe and diagnose patients. This was in May of 2004 I was finally properly diagnosed with Bipolar 1. I was so relieved to be put on the proper medication and I could think straight and actually feel my feelings again. Not long after I was released, I filed for divorce and 15 months from the time I married him, I was back in Indiana where I belonged. I am so happy to have the correct diagnosis and knew what I was dealing with. It’s been 15 years since my diagnosis. I was afraid at first to tell anyone because I felt ashamed. Today I know better. There is no shame in having an illness. I didn’t cause it, I can’t cure it, but I can learn to live with it and possibly help others who suffer the same disease.
I got a job in 2005 and worked as long as I could. My last job ended in 2009 when I could no longer concentrate on my duties. It was a busy office I worked in and I just couldn’t keep up. Now I find things that I am good at and do enjoy and writing is certainly one of them. I don’t push my self hard. I am much kinder and am learning my limitations. I’m happy today and look forward to writing everyday. I see my doctor every three months and have been stable and on the same meds for 15 years now. I am happy to be alive and have family and friends who accept and love me.
Having to go to the hospital is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes it is necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment. Being on the wrong medication can prove to be ineffective and sometimes dangerous. Doctors need the proper tools in order to make an informed decision on what direction to take in your personalized treatment plan.
A few important things I have learned about myself since getting treatment:
Trust my gut feelings
Take time to access a situation
Take control; I are in charge of my life
Be humble when necessary
Ask for help when needed
Don’t be afraid to take chances
Take off those rose colored glasses