It’s been a long time since I’ve written about my Mental Health and since it’s Mental Health Awareness Month I can’t think of a better time.
I’ve been stable for about three years and it was a long journey during that depressive period. After being stable for several years I spiraled into a dark depression, getting numb and darker by the day. I tried four different drugs before finding the drug I’m on. It has worked like a miracle.
That’s how my life has gone since I was 19 years old. Stable or depressed or hypo or manic or dark depression or unable to function. It’s been a difficult journey and one that I almost didn’t make several times. The first time I tried to kill myself was at nine years old, that should have been a sign that something was wrong with me.
I have been hospitalized several times sometimes for up to a month a time and have had 21 Electro Convulsive Treatments. The journey has been very dark at times and I’m so thankful that I had family and a husband who fought hard when I wouldn’t.
The only thing I can say to anyone who is suffering from Mental Illness or a Mental Health challenge, it can and often will pass. I’m not going to sugar coat it, there are some Mental Illnesses that reaching stable is as well as you will get, that’s a huge achievement.
I have Bipolar Disorder and for the past 25 years have been on the depressive side. For the prior 20 years, I lived in a blissful Hypo Manic state. It was blissful until I fell off that cloud and crashed so hard I almost didn’t make it up.
One key to my success is having a Psychopharmacologist as my main doctor and seeing a therapist regularly. I know Psychopharmacologists are more expensive and harder to find but they know the brain in detail and how medications work so they can connect the dots with what symptoms you’re having with the medication you need. I’ve seen my doctor for 30 years and it scares me he is about to retire and I don’t know who is going to take his practice.
I believe strongly that for ongoing challenges with Mental Health/Mental Illness medication is required for some period of time. For me, it’s a lifetime, for others it’s until they’re stable.
I also believe strongly that seeing a Therapist on regular basis is as critical as medication. Sometimes we sabotage ourself and a Therapist can help us thru negative self-talk. The key to remember is what each doctor or Therapist does as a specialty. If you’re seeing a Psychiatrist/Psychopharmacologist you are only going to get medication, you are not going to get any therapy. There are also different types of Therapists so you need to make sure you are getting a referral for the right type. I am not skilled enough to tell you what type you need but your Psychiatrist can.
I’m almost 58 years old and at times I didn’t think I’d ever see 30 years old. It takes everything you have and more to deal with your Mental Illness or Mental Health and it’s worth the effort.
What goes down must come up again!
If you’d like to read more about my journey with Bipolar Disorder, check out my archives.