When I was eight-teen I was first diagnosed with clinical depression, but, I was also in the throws of severe anorexia and significantly underweight at the time, away from home at my freshman year of college and seriously homesick and very suicidal. I was seeing a counselor at the University of Vermont where I was attending and getting weekly weigh-ins (which I was faking- I was doing thing to make my weight higher than it actually was when I was weighed). However, the therapist was new- despite her age (she was an older woman who’d just gone back to school for a change in life degree in counseling) and really didn’t have a clue. I’d been telling her for week’s I was depressed and suicidal ) that there was a serious issue. She kept trying to be a cheerleader and doing “pep talks” saying …”you’ll make it,” “it’s not that bad,” despite my continued withdraw and emaciation. I ended up getting sent home from the University 2.5 weeks before the term ended by the head of the Psychology Department because they came to realize I was faking my weight and I was on the precipice of a suicide attempt. My weight was critical as was my blood work. The department head called my parents and told them if they didn’t get me on a flight that day and into a program immediately they’d be bringing me home in a casket at they end of the term.
It was that summer when my anorexia finally “came out.” I’d been dealing in secret with anorexia since I was seven (7) years old, but no one was ever clued in or the wiser because I’d always been very petite and a competitive athlete. I was a gymnast for (9.5) years and a track & field and cross country runner as well as a swimmer and diver. I played a number of other sports in there as well but those were my most heartily involved competitive sports. I’d never weighed much more that 100 pounds. But that summer after graduation I dropped 25 pounds in (6) weeks when I’d gone to the beach with my cousin to start working before my mom got there and that’s when it “came out” I had an issue. I’d been over-exercising, and starving/ restricting nearly every meal since I got down there. I’d dieted all through high-school and was always exercising because I was an athlete. Being on a diet or eating small amounts didn’t seem abnormal really to my mom because I’d always eaten small amounts and been petite. She and I did “fad diets” together..not that we needed it…either one of us like “Eater Choice” The T-Factor, I was always drinking Slim Fast, but I always chirped its for gymnastics…it’s for track… It wasn’t until I got really thin and my cousin noticed what was going on and when my mom and aunt was me…(my cousin had been hospitalized the year before for anorexia) With all of this happening if I wanted to still go away to schcool I had to go on a contract. I had to agree to gain back to a 100 lbs, get weekly weigh-ins and seeing the counselor.
But back to being a “good kid” I was never a drinker or partier in high-school or even in my first semester of college for that matter. Not even much during my first couple of years of college did I drink that much. I’d say just typical college drinking but it did begin to escalate to some degree over my years at school. However, when I turned 21 and was actually legal is when the tables turned and my drinking really took off as I was able to go to bars but it still hadn’t reached anywhere near critical But by the time I was 23 I noticed I was drinking daily and really parting hard. This is also when I started dating a bartender and I’d say it was the beginning of the end. This I’d say is when I became an alcoholic drinker.
Once I became an alcoholic drinker it didn’t take long for me to really loose “everything” in my opinion that I valued at that time in my life. All be it I didn’t loose my job, home, car but I did my sanity, dignity, faith, serenity etc and decided to get sober.
It was at this point began my trek down the multiple diagnosis’ of conditions and medications. It was this that sent me on a 20 year journey of mood swings, further (unnecessary- yet necessary at the time) hospitalizations for med checks-mood swings and other experiences. Alcohol altered my body/brain chemistry in such a way that it was led to believe that I had Bipolar I for years. I was so off. My moods and personality was so drastically changed and unstable that it was strongly believed that I needed to be medicated to be balanced. And my Dr. was throwing med after med after med at me to try and find the “right” combination to “balance” me out! I’ve been called all kind of nicknames…”zombie girl,” “stoner,” “space cadet,” “zoomie chick,” “whacker.”….. These meds’ all in and of their own have their own set of side effects as well. Which is totally insane! I’d be on one and be fine for a while and then BAM!! suddenly not be fine and end up on the psych ward…where they’d make an adjustment set me free just to have me end right back up there because the adjustment they made sent me in the opposite direction. I’d be depressed and suddenly I’d be flying high. Only to realize now looking back that it was the meds throwing me into these crazy swings. It was solely a chemical imbalance/reaction and had nothing to do with me at all.
Now flash forward 17 years. I have not been sober a full/straight 20 years but have a combined 15 years. I have chunks of time gathering (2)-(4) years at a time each sober period. Two years ago after about (3) months sober I decided I didn’t want to be on all “these psych drugs” anymore and slowly started to wean myself off them one at a time. After about (4) months I was off all of my medications and have been ever since and believe it or not at the (6) month mark my psychiatrist said to me “I don’t believe that you are Bipolar!” We don’t even believe it’s clinical depression. We believe it’s SAD- Seasonal Affective Disorder- as I do get a little bluer in the darker months of daylight savings and brighter and more buoyant in the longer days.
I do however have an alphabet of letters following me around though…C-PTSD & OCD. I struggle with Complex PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
. Yet I choose to not be medicated for either one of these. After all of the rigamaraw I went through with being on what seems like every possible medication under the sun…And I kid you not, I must have tried at least 50 different kinds for when it was believed I had Bipolar and all the unnecessary trips in and out of the psych hospital, I really don’t want to have to go through all of that again. I will utilize herbal vitamins which I find useful… (Valerian Root, Passion Flower, Kava Kava are all ones I have tried for anxiety and calming…also Passion Flower I’ve found helps with sleep).I was tired of being in my opinion a” guinea pig.”
I feel as though my moods have never been more stable.
I have always been someone who has never been able to cry. In fact I could count on my (2) hands the number of times I cried in 33 years. Since I went off all the psych medications I’m no longer numbed out. I learned to stop stuffing all my emotions and am learning to discuss my issues. Three years ago I had a nervous breakdown and finally disclosed a tremendous amount of my past which involves a significant amount of trauma and abuse. By unburdening I’ve allowed myself to finally open up and heal in many ways. I believe it’s what allowed me to finally free myself of the grips of Eating Disorder. To finally surrender to my alcoholism as I’m now coming up on (2) years sober again and to finally begin to cry. Even my issues with my OCD are not as stringent as they used to be. My biggest issue with OCD is numbers and counting and organizing. And of course counting and organizing are key issues for a lot of anorexics especially numbers . For me, freedom from numbers to any degree has been life saving!
My C-PTSD is a long work in progress but that’s why I have someone to talk it out with on a regular basis.
Being defined by a diagnosis or an alphabet of letters next to my name does’t bother me nor should it define me or anybody. Mental Health in America is part of the fabric of what makes up a larger portion of the American Public and NOBODY should be stigmatized/labeled/held back/judged by it. It’s disgraceful for anyone to do so and offensive when it is done.
I yearn for the past all the life i never lived
I yearn for th future I won’t see and the life missed.
But in the future I suffer chronically with unfathomable pain,
To leave this earthly form I see it as a gain.
To shed this earthly form that encases the physical of misery,
And to allow the spiritual finally to finally fly free.
Only then will there only be beauty, freedom and light,
This beautiful caged animal can finally end her plight.
The clouds of darkness can open and part in the sky,
And the sun shine through and smile from high.
But shed no tears and rejoice in the freedom of soul,
Pain felt no more, angst and hurt beyond what you know.
To sit and sing with the angels above,
My spirit carried on in the songs of a mourning dove.
From earth me come and ashes to ashes we go,
When it’s finally time to go to our Heavenly home.
I pray each night that my time isn’t too far off,
I want no argument from those who may scoff.
Just take a day to walk a mile in my shoes,
A plight you’d see wouldn’t be the one you’d choose.
No one said that life is supposed to be easy, equal or fair,
But for of misery, that, I’ve had more than my share!