Wonderland in Ruins

I’m going to warn readers right off that this post will deal with some pretty heavy things and will be fairly long. I feel this is something that needs said. Since starting work at a hospital, I have noticed a growing trend in something that is often overlooked or simply looked down upon: mental illness.

When I was eighteen, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I went up to my mother one day and told her I was not okay, something was wrong, and I needed to see my doctor. She took me in a few days later and spoke with my doctor as I cried the whole time because I thought I was broken. I don’t even remember the appointment except my momma holding my hand the whole time and telling me I was going to be okay. I changed medications three times before I even felt somewhat like my old self. Everything seemed fine.

Until it wasn’t.

This last year, something happened that I can’t even begin to explain. I fell into one of the deepest, darkest depressions I have ever been in. Then suddenly, I woke up one day and was the happiest I had ever been in my life. I had so much energy. There was color in everything. Everyone was so beautiful and amazing and I wanted to love everyone. I was laughing and smiling until my chest and face hurt, but then my fiance and friends started noticing weird things I was doing. I would start making decision on a whim which is unlike me because I’m very strategic. I would say and do things like there were absolutely no consequences. It came to the point where I thought I was happy and I didn’t need my medications anymore and nothing anyone said would make me change my mind. This lasted about a month, and then I fell back into a depression.

Something didn’t feel right. I knew I had MDD, but there had to be some underlying cause that was forcing the insane emotions. I started to do research and chart out my symptoms with the help of my fiance and my roommates. We discovered something I never thought I would deal with. I was experiencing something called hypomania which was a symptom of Bipolar II Disorder. I didn’t self-diagnose myself, but the symptoms I was having fit everything about the illness. I had more lows than highs and when I did have a high, it only lasted a short period before I fell back into depression.

My fiance took me to the doctor this time armed with a list of the symptoms I was experiencing during both depression and hypomania and held my hand as he explained to her what was happening and what we were going through. I was referred to a psychiatrist, and a month later, she told me that although no diagnosis regarding the mind is concrete, I fit the symptoms and she diagnosed me with Bipolar II Disorder.

With her help, we straightened out my medication, and I can truly say I am happy. I still have my lows, but they aren’t nearly as bad as they once were. The hypomania hasn’t reared its ugly head since the first time, and hopefully, I won’t experience it again.

I don’t post this for sympathy. I don’t post it for the “Oh, I’m so glad you’re better”. I post it to bring awareness to a demon that plagues so many other people. I want to bring awareness to those that feel helpless, lost, scared, and guilty for being alive. I want to bring awareness to those living in the dark, and I want them to see that they’re not alone.

Mental illness is a real thing and anyone that says otherwise has never dealt with the feeling of helplessness, brokenness, and just pure darkness that I and many others have dealt with. We can’t just “be happy”. We know there are others that have it worse than us, but we can’t help it that the chemicals in our minds are so out of sync with the rest of us that it makes us feel like we’re going to snap. We can’t just “make ourselves better” with a little rest and relaxation. It’s impossible.

There is such a stigma on mental illness that needs to stop because there are so many out there that are lost and cannot find the light to get out of the dark. They need help and treating them like their mental illness doesn’t exist may be the very thing that pushes them over the edge.

2 thoughts on “Wonderland in Ruins

  1. Bree. Thanks for sharing. Like you, I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Type II disorder. I feel exactly like you describe. My medications help to level me out most of the time but I live in a low level funk quite a bit. The hypomanic swings cause me to throw caution to the wind and I go on binges.. eating, spending, driving fast. I’m thankful I don’t have addictive tendencies because, if I did, I would be drinking or using drugs too. I’ve found, if I’m around a great deal of stimuli, I go a bit bonkers and have heightened anxiety. I can keep the monsters at bay when I can get away and shut down for a while. But my family doesn’t understand my illness. They see me as a drug addict because I take medicines to improve my life. ‘You are taking too many drugs that make you lethargic.’ They usually see me when I’m in an upswing so they think I’m a people person and quite the extrovert. But sometimes, I’m forced to socialize when I’m depressed. Birthdays and holidays don’t just happen when I’m feeling good. They don’t understand but the real truth is, I’m an introvert who can force myself to socialize if needed. So when I’m quiet, they think I’m overmedicated. They don’t realize my truth. ‘Just snap out of it.’ ‘You’re not crazy, you just like the drugs.’ I’m so freaking sick and tired of trying to be someone I’m not but, when they see the real me, they are uncomfortable. I think it is because they recognize some of my symptoms in themselves and are scared to death. My parents don’t want to accept they have a ‘flawed’ child. My daughter doesn’t want to think she has a mentally ill mother. She can’t accept the fact she may have a genetic predisposition to mental illness. God forbid any family member actually say the word ‘mental illness’. ‘Those types of people are institutionalized. They aren’t walking among us and they certainly aren’t members of our family.’ I’m thankful your family is so supportive and your fiancee understands and is accepting of you in your entirety. I would love to do what you have done and use my story to help others. It is when people feel they are not alone that some healing takes place. I suffer most of the time, going through the motions. Not able to be myself and a lack of understanding from others are triggers, as are too much sound and motion. I have a base of understanding friends but they live far away so I struggle on an island of misunderstanding. I just keep trying not to drown.

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