I started experiencing severe depression at the age of 13. I would just cry and cry for no reason, could not concentrate or do simple tasks like vacuuming. I would miss two weeks of school at a time.
I had a severe manic episode at the age of 17 that resulted in a hospitalization. It was during the month at the hospital that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
I have always tried to fight for the rights of those with mental illness. I am also on a mission to fight the stigma of mental illness.
I was always a good student and high achiever. After missing two weeks of school, I would make up all my work in two to three days. It is now thought that those were mini manic episodes that enabled me to do that.
I got mainly A’s in school, was the president of several clubs in high school and graduated from college with a degree in elementary education. I was the manager of a movie theater, a trainer at Walt Disney World and taught school for about 10 years. I was even named Teacher of the Year in 2004. I am not telling you about these accomplishments to brag, but to make you realize that even though I had this mental illness, I still was able to achieve a lot.
I have been hospitalized more times than I can count. Although most of the time it was for psychiatric reasons, I was also hospitalized several times for ailments that were thought to be caused by the medications I was on for bipolar disorder. I had pancreatitis, my gall bladder removed, numerous stomach problems severe enough for hospitalizations, tardive dyskinesia, heart problems bad enough to put me in the ICU and dystonia. The worse being dystonia when my chin was “stuck” to my chest for about four months. I was really lucky that this was not permanent.
After being in the hospital for various reasons 16 times in one year, I was forced to stop teaching and go on disability.
I have a strong support system, a loving family, and a strong faith, and am determined to rise above this illness. These things help me every day.
I have always tried to fight for the rights of the those with mental illness. I am also on a mission to fight the stigma of mental illness. I have written numerous letters to politicians trying to change the way those who have mental illnesses are treated.
I fight the battle every day. I mainly stay somewhat depressed, but am mostly worried about the manic episodes. The last time I was hospitalized was for ten days and that was about four months ago. I keep fighting the fight although some days it seems hopeless. I have a strong support system, a loving family, and a strong faith, and am determined to rise above this illness. These things help me every day.
I maintain a Pinterest board with a lot of valuable information for those with mental illneses. http://pinterest.com/bipolarbandit/
I also blog, am on Twitter @bipolar_bandit, am on FB http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bipolar-Bandit/331265130301456
These are some of things I have done while manic: http://bipolarbandit.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/things-ive-done-while-manic-by-michellelh/