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.