Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Relief, Happiness...it is possible

I've been feeling a strange and unfamiliar feeling lately.  It's called happiness.  It's been eluding me for what seems like most of my life, but especially the past 3-4 years.  My struggle with bipolar disorder has been a long and difficult journey...but I am so grateful for it.  It has made me who I am today and I feel stronger and more determined than ever.

I wish that all of my friends who suffer could be at the point that I am today.  The only thing I can say to them, to even try to help, is that it IS possible to be happy.  It IS possible to make it through the Hell you are going through.  Happiness IS attainable.  It is not at ALL easy to get there, for those of us who suffer from mental illnesses.  But it is possible.  Therapy and medication, good doctors, good friends and great family...those things have quite literally saved my life.

There was a time when I wanted to die.  I didn't want to face all the problems that were being thrown at me.  The only reason I did not end it all was the mere thought of the devastation it would have caused my family.  Especially my mother, who suffers from depression.  I would not, could not, hurt my family in that way and possibly be responsible for sending my mother to a horrible place, mentally.

I have been through Hell this past year.  I broke my lower right leg in half, literally.  I have a metal rod and three pins down the length of it.  I made it through that.  Through the constant pain for 7 straight months...and the lingering pain that I still have. I was hospitalized several times in the past 1.5-2 years for hurting myself...including a 3 day stay in the psych ward.  I even (I'm gonna say it..not ashamed anymore) went to jail for a night.  I went into a severely manic state shortly after going on short-term disability from my job (for the 3rd time), and physically attacked my husband.  In the state where I live, the primary aggressor HAS to be arrested.  Neither my husband nor I had a choice in the matter. I was scared to death.   The funny thing is *I* was the one who called the police.  I was totally manic and in a daze. Shortly after that incident, I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The night in jail was pure torture and my own personal Hell.  I was not allowed the Effexor that I was being weaned off of and went through HORRIBLE, HELLISH withdrawals which had me laying on a mat on the floor curled in a ball.  I went to the courthouse the next day and was released on my own recognizance.  It was the worst day/night of my life.  But I made it through.  With only a few tears at the beginning.  None while in the "dorm" room with the other ladies, who were also on psych meds.  I had to stay strong.

The women there all had lives that were so much worse than mine.  I did not fit in at all, I'm no criminal, no drug addict, and many of these women had horrible addictions to serious drugs.  But as different as we were, I sat down and found comfort in talking to a few of them.  We talked about the difficulties we've suffered, and how spirituality has gotten us through.

I am not uber-religious.  I am very spiritual.  I don't follow a specific religion.  But the only thing that got me through that night, and let me actually FALL ASLEEP in that place, was saying the only prayer I knew...the Lord's Prayer.  I said it over and over again the following day, while still being held in the dorm, awaiting my release and going through the worst withdrawals from the Effexor.  They told me after court that I could be released anywhere between that time (around Noon) and 2:00 a.m.  I laid on the floor (I was too dizzy to lay on the top bunk), on an uncomfortable mat...dizzy...nauseaous...incredibly sick...and said that prayer what must have been a thousand times...until I was at my breaking point and thought I would snap....then they released me at 6 p.m....at the very point I thought I was going to break.....I was not given more than I could handle.  I was given just enough to make me able to handle any situation now...to make me realize how strong I am.

It was Hell.  This year was Hell.  I was on disability from my job for many months out of this year.  I just got a call from the Human Resources department at my job.  I was in danger of losing my job because my FMLA coverage ran out 2 weeks ago.  I was told today that my job was still there for me and would be there for my return on December 16th.  It was such a relief.  But the funny thing is...when in limbo...wondering if I would have a job...I didn't worry about it....at least not to the point of debilitating worry and anxiety that I have experienced in the past.  I was concerned...but not worried sick.  I knew that either way...job or not...I would be OK.

All of this struggle, this horrible year....I'm grateful for it.  I am not worried about anything.  I realized the other day, while making some jewelry (which I have NOT been focused enough to do for some time), that I felt a strange, unfamiliar feeling....happiness....it struck me...and I welcomed it.

For those who suffer, you are not alone.  You will get through this.  It is possible.  Please stay strong.  We will fight the good fight together.


BipolarPokerMOm said...

Beautiful post. I have felt so many of the things you have gone through. Family, good doctors, therapist and friends help us so much get through each day. For me, I just have to get through each minute, let alone each hour. I am so glad I met you through Twitter.

Jackie said...

I'm glad I met you, too! Good to know we're not alone, eh? One day at a time. We're gonna be OK. :)

Bella said...

Thank you for writing that. Stories like this give me hope for my own recovery (depression, borderline "traits", an eating disorder). I want to make it so badly. Things like this make me believe I can. :)

Jackie said...

I'm glad what I wrote gives you hope. I just read through it again, because I've been feeling a bit down this week. I needed to be reminded of the things I've been through, and realize that a bad day or a down mood is something I can handle. Everyone has bad days, but we've gotta remember there are good days ahead and the bad days won't be the end of us. I'm a newbie at the eating disorder thing...having "tendencies" lately. I think I replaced the self-harm with the ED (another form of self-harm that doesn't leave visible scars). I've gotta stay strong and believe that I can get through more than I ever thought. And so can you. It's possible. As hard as things get, they are just tests...to see how strong you are...and getting through them is invigorating, truly. I wish you the best, Bella. Stay strong. <3

Colby said...

Thanks so much for your post, and your blog. Millions of Americans suffer from a diagnosed, misdiagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness. Silver Hill Hospital has clinicians trained in evaluation, diagnosis and adult and adolescent psychiatric treatment and provides hope for people who may not have been getting the right care. Talking/blogging about mental illness can be extremely helpful not just for yourself, but for others in need. Keep up the good work.