On Whether Manic Depression Is A Blessing Or A Curse Or Both

So, this is a question I struggle with periodically. Is Manic Depression a blessing, curse or both? There is no denying that my life has changed immensely both for theDaisies good and the bad since being diagnosed in the early 2000′s. But, is my life really worse than it was before? Was I truly happy, or was it a semblance of happiness? Would my life have taken the same path regardless?

Now that I have been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for about 5.5 years, I can honestly say I really do not know. One goal of Nichiren Buddhism is to become indestructibly happy to the core of your being so that you can face the obstacles and struggles that are inherent in life with the knowledge that whatever life is throwing at you you can handle it with maybe not, joy, but not anger or blame either. Which brings me to the question of whether I was happy before the diagnosis, or was I operating under an illusion that I was happy?

Having thought about this quite a bit, I really do not think that I was a happy person before the diagnosis. I had moments of extreme happiness and joy which I do miss primarily because those moments involve someone I miss a great deal. However, in general, I do not think I was what I would call a happy person, and never really had been. I was not a popular student, although I was certainly a very dedicated student throughout Middle School and High School, but I had no close friends or a person that I could take my problems to. I buried them, and not very successfully either. I got better at that, though. Probably not a good thing, but a necessary defense mechanism. I was “odd” in some way, shape or form that kept the other students from wanting to be my friend.

This was my reality until I went to college, and discovered an entirely new world of people my age, older than myself, and all with different life experiences. I was truly happy in college. My therapist thinks I first presented with Bipolar in college (I had already been diagnosed with PTSD), and looking at my transcript, I can see some signs that there may have been a problem with my moods. I dropped in and out a lot, couldn’t decide on a major, and drifted a lot. I dropped out for two years when I was 19 to “sow” my wild oats because I had not had that experience in High School. I got myself in trouble; some of it serious. But, with the help of rehab, and outpatient therapy, I pulled myself back together and went back with a strong determination to find my major and to earn my degree. I met my ex-fiance, and he rekindled my love of bicycling as he was an avid cyclist, and I had always enjoyed cycling. So, yes, I think I was happy in college. I “fit”.

After graduating, I set out to my find my first real job (the kind that pays more than minimum wage, or relies on tips). I landed the second job I applied for with a salary of about $28,000 per year. Although I thoroughly enjoyed what I did for a living, I was not happy with my environment, my boss, and the way I was treated by some of the other employees. To clarify, I was the Payroll Benefits Coordinator for a 200+ employee hospital, and was frequently blamed for people’s paycheck errors. That’s what the time clock is for. To keep track of your hours; if I don’t know if you worked, I cannot pay you. Pretty simple stuff, and most people did it once because I did not go out of my way to get them special checks to cover their mistakes. However, my boss was a micro-manager and I do not function well under constant scrutiny. So, I was very unhappy with that aspect. Then, I was asked to resign after I made a mistake that in retrospect was a pretty big one. They kept me on to train my replacement. That was my first go around with almost unbearable anxiety, and prescriptions for Xanax. Fortunately, I found a position at the University doing the same type of job for about the same salary. I was over the moon! I was back at my beloved University. It was during my tenure at the University that I had the breakdown that led me to seek out a therapist.

Our whole office was under extreme stress for reasons that are too complicated to explain. I found myself doing the job of two people, and working 12 to 14 hours per day. It was here that I met the individual that was probably as close to a soul mate as I have ever found. He made me happy, and therefore the environment was bearable. Then I melted down, and after about 6 months of weekly therapy, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type II disorder, and then bipolar Type I with Psychotic tendencies. My world came to a screeching halt. I was once again fired, and this time was very different because now I was clinically mentally ill. I became very unhappy, and became a “frequent flyer” at the mental health unit of a local hospital. I was up, i was down, I was drinking…..heavily. My whole world turned on its head again.

At this time, I would say that Manic Depression was most definitely a curse. The doctors were trying to stabilize me, and onto the med-go-round I hopped. Most of lotuswhat I can remember about that time is very fuzzy as the doctors tried one medication after another attempting to return my moods to something resembling normal. I was very depressed, frequently drunk, and just as frequently, suicidal. I just could not see any way out of the hole I had fallen into. My whole life revolved around doctor’s appointments, medications that didn’t work or caused unacceptable side effects. I was miserable. I was most definitely caught in the “Why me?” trap. So, yes, I would say the first 4 to 5 years were a curse. And, then I reached the point I call stable madness. I was still a danger to myself, and now I had the means, and I used them. Then one evening, I took a full prescription for Geodon (an anti-psychotic) and one of Welbutrin (an anti-depressant), and I waited. Then the drugs started to kick in, and I got very frightened because I could feel in my gut that I had gotten it right (or wrong) this time. I called 911, and told the dispatcher what I had taken and how much, and the paramedics were there in about 5 minutes. I was taken to the nearest emergency room where they put about 8 IV’s in me trying to flush the now digested medications. I almost died that night. I made a pact that evening that if the Universe and everything in it that was divine that if it allowed me to live through this with no ill effects, I would never do it again. The 6 year anniversary of that pact is approaching in July. I have been suicidal since, but you do not break pacts made with the Universe so I have never tried again regardless of how much I wanted to. My whole view on life changed during the time I was hospitalized following the successful revival of my life.

Not long after I made this pact, I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism. At first, I thought the practice was weird, and the tenets difficult to understand. But, I kept at it sensing that something greater than myself was at work. I have never been religious, but I have always been spiritual. As I gradually learned more and more, and began to be able to say the prayers more easily, I started to feel better. This was entirely foreign to me. Something was working. I was becoming grounded, I was becoming more stable. I began to ride again. I wanted to see and meet people. I was beginning to think that perhaps life was worth living if only to practice and study Buddhism. I began to see that my previous trials and difficulties had left me with a gift; I was becoming appreciative and grateful for things and people I had taken for granted. I was having more good days than bad. And, the most peculiar of all, my ability to sense when another person was hurting or struggling in their life was becoming heightened. I began to think of others ahead of myself. I still had to vigilantly monitor my moods, but I was becoming less restless and dissatisfied. I became the Vice Women’s Division leader for a group of fellow Buddhists, and then the Women’s Division leader. Things were becoming okay. I was beginning to accept my illness, and think of it less as an illness but as something medically treatable.

egyptian lotus flowerIt was about 2 years into my practice that I began to understand the practice as being essential to my life, and to my satisfaction with the cards I had been dealt. This is about the time I began to wonder if Manic Depression was a blessing, a curse, or both. Today, and the reason I wrote this, is that I realized that it is both. It is a blessing in that I have learned to appreciate and be grateful for the things and people in my life who make my life worth living. It is a blessing in that I have learned that I am not nearly as bad off as others I have met. And, it is a blessing that I have realized that I truly enjoy helping relieve others of their pain even if it is just a little bit and for a short time. It is a curse in that my moods still fluctuate though not nearly as badly as they once did, that I will be on medication for the rest of my life, and that I will still experience bone crushing depressions from time to time and that I will still have a desire to end my life at those times. So, I have finally answered my question: yes, I am a happy person today. I am alive. No, I am not always surfing the perfect sine wave, but that is okay because the sine wave always comes back. Sometimes, it just hangs out off shore for a while.

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From Jennifer Kelley

Feeling Sappy and Reminiscent

I do promise to finish the series that led me from birth to Bipolar disorder, but allow me to engage in a bit of reminiscent sappiness. This song was recorded when I was three (3) years old in 1974, and has sustained me for the past few days where I have been depressed but not depressed enough to be “ill.” It is called “Let It Grow” and is by Eric Clapton. It reminds me that hope springs eternal, and all is not lost in love or war :)

 

The Verve ~ One Day

Once again a song says it better than I can: feeling very down today.

One day maybe we will dance again
Under fiery skies
One day maybe you will love again
Love that never dies

One day maybe you will see the land
Touch skin with sand
You’ve been swimming in the lonely sea
With no company

Oh, don’t you want to find?
Can’t you hear this beauty in life?
The roads, the highs, breaking up your life
Can’t you hear this beauty in life?

One day maybe you will cry again
Just like a child
You’ve gotta tie yourself to the mast my friend
And the storm will end

Oh, don’t you want to find?
Can’t you hear this beauty in life?
The times, the highs, breaking up your mind
Can’t you hear this beauty in life?

Oh, you’re too afraid to touch
Too afraid you’ll like it too much
The roads, the times, breaking up your mind
Can’t you hear this beauty in life?

One day maybe I will dance again
One day maybe I will love again
One day maybe we will dance again
You know you’ve gotta
Tie yourself to the mast my friend
And the storm will end
One day maybe you will love again
You’ve gotta tie yourself to the mast my friend
And the storm will end

Being Lonely And Alone Sucks

…..enough said.

I Have Realized Something That I Have Always Known

………. but refused to truly recognize until this weekend. Some acquaintances of mine were married this weekend, and it is obvious from the photographs (especially the ones taken when they were not looking) that they love each other dearly and completely. My ex-husband never loved me that way no matter what I did. It is currently breaking my heart thinking that I may never find that kind of love. But, I hold out hope everyday that I will meet someone who will love me just as I am (warts and all).  I wasted nearly five years of my life on someone who couldn’t love me back. It saddens me. 

It All Started At Birth (The Drug Years) May Be A Trigger; I Don’t Know

Backing up a bit, I had just gotten home; it was maybe 10:30 pm, but I had told my parents I was working that night so I could sneak out to see my “boyfriend.” I put it into quotes because it became very clear to me that night that he had no feelings for me at all. You cannot do something that violent to someone you really love. Abusers may claim they love you, but they really do not. 

My parents were angry; they had called my place of employment and were told I was not there. So, they knew I had lied. That was all they were concerned about. My lying. They did not notice my disheveled appearance, the smeared makeup, the look of utter shock on my face (I knew it was there because by this time, I had hit the “I can’t believe this happened to me” phase.) I was so angry, in shock, disbelieving, and full of hatred that I completely ignored them, told them to Fuck Off, and turned to go to the bathroom down the hall with my middle finger high in the air. Had I been a parent whose daughter had come home looking like that, I would be worried, but no, my parents (both narcissistic in their own way, one worse than the other) were concerned I had lied. That was the least important thing in the world to me.

No means NO! It does not mean I am playing hard to get, it means fucking NO!

No means NO! It does not mean I am playing hard to get, it means fucking NO!

I had just lost my virginity to a rapist. All I wanted to do was get clean, but that wasn’t going to happen that night or for several months after. I must have stayed in the tub for about 4 hours (wouldn’t that tip you off if you were a parent.) It was nearly 3 am before I emerged from the bathroom. I got in bed and tried to sleep, but I kept flashing back. I still have problems with nightmares, reliving the event, and being hyper-vigilant (which may be the only good thing to come out of this; I now have an almost innate sense when people are too close or are walking behind me,etc.) My main problem is that I did not completely disassociate the way many survivors of abuse do. I can see it from the third person watching it happen to me, and I can see it from the first person experiencing it. Believe me, I try not to go there. But, every now and again, I revisit the feelings in a dream or something, and I am very aware of who is around me at all times.

So, thus began the self-medicating. I couldn’t go to my parents and tell them what happened; they had made it quite clear that the lie about working would preclude any truth about that night.) I began to smoke pot more frequently with my neighbor, I began to drink a bit, and I couldn’t have cared less about school. Nothing, absolutely nothing mattered to me. Getting high, that mattered. Anything that would stop the flow of images, and marijuana did that quite effectively. I found more and new friends who smoked. Until then, I was the one who passed on the joint. Now, it was my savior. I began to smoke cigarettes regularly at that time, too.

I decided that I could no longer handle High School and discovered that the University here had a concurrent enrollment program; all you needed to do was get your high school’s permission, in my case, I only had 2.5 credits to graduate. One year of English, one year of Math, and a semester elective. So, I took the SAT (did not do well: 1090. Sad.) and I took the ACT (27 cumulative, much better.) So, having written an essay to the Dean of Students about why I wanted to start college early, I was admitted to college about 2 months after my 17th birthday. This all took place in the spring so I could get all the necessary paperwork approved.

Deadheads EmbracingDuring this period of time, I began to hang out at a local spot frequented by students, hippies, Deadheads, you name a group they were there; including my rapist whom I saw everyday. As if I wasn’t traumatized enough. I met a man who turned into one of my best friends there. He is beautiful both inside and outside, and has remained that way even into his 40′s. It makes me smile to think of him. I also met my first boyfriend (I do not consider my rapist as my first boyfriend.) He was not attractive in a traditional sense, but he had this sense of humor that was infectious. He made me laugh. He actually asked one night when I was running late for dinner if it would be alright if he kissed me (he knew my story.) I knew that I wanted to kiss him, but I had no confidence at the time (another theft.) I said, yes it would be okay, and he kissed me so gently and softly. He completely respected that I had been attacked and was going to be hesitant, but that was okay with him. I was 17, and should probably mention that he was 24. My parents hated him from the word go, but they did not understand how he treated me with respect and compassion, and how much he took care of me. But then again, they were unaware of how important these qualities were to me. If only they had asked one simple question: Are you okay? Things may have turned out very differently. To this day, I do not think my father fully comprehends that his daughter was sexually assaulted. It is like he has a block on everything unpleasant in this world. I could never live with such blinders.

This is when I really started getting into pot smoking. I was stoned from the time I woke up until I went to sleep at night. It quieted the voices in my head, and allowed me to relax my guard a little bit. I started skipping class to hang out with my new-found friends. My soon to become boyfriend noticed that I was not attending class in favor of getting high, and he began to walk me to class, and be there when I got out to take me to my next class. My parents never knew this about him either. They chose to believe he was bad because he had some jail time under his belt, and he was 7 years older than I was. But, if they could only had known how much love he had to give me, and respect for what had happened, and the compassion and wisdom to ask before he touched me in any form of intimate way. All they saw was an ex-con who was messing with their daughter.Drug Addiction Does Not Let Go Easily

Before long, my pot smoking gave way to pretty heavy LSD use, and then gradually to pills. Then I hit a mile marker: I tried meth for the first time. I had found my drug. This was not a good thing. I had a dealer living in my apartment, and he paid his rent by keeping me high. On meth, I was happy, outgoing, talkative, loved everyone, and lost about 30 pounds that I really didn’t have to lose. I cooked, I cleaned (and I do mean thoroughly.) I was super woman! For the first time in years, I felt like I had before the attack. Nothing bothered me…..I had a temper, but you really had to make me mad to get a rise out of me. Now, that I know that I have ADD, all of my reactions to meth make sense. For me it was calming, but I am wired backwards.

I do not know how it happened, considering my drug of choice is meth and probably always will be), but somehow I moved on to cocaine (this guy I knew got 97% pure Colombian), and Crack. He was a crack fiend, and need a safe place to rock the powdered cocaine. I let him do it at my apartment in exchange for about a quarter gram of pure cocaine. I mean, this stuff knocked you on your ass for about 20 minutes or so. He was usually done rocking the remainder about the same time I “came to.” Then we spent the night smoking rocks. By this time, I was also taking an unimaginable amount of valium, and shooting about 12 cc’s of morphine each day. Meanwhile, the Bipolar disorder that had been lying dormant was starting to manifest itself. I was unaware of it, but my moods were very volatile, and everyone I knew including myself chalked it up to drug addiction. And, I can’t dance around it anymore calling it substance abuse. I was an addict. I didn’t care what you had, I would buy it and take it. I loved the pure cocaine, meth, morphine and pills. Drinking was a so-so remedy (although it becomes important later.) What I did not know was that I was subconsciously trying to control the chemical imbalance in my brain. If I was down, I snorted a couple of lines of meth or coke whichever was available. If I was too far up, I shot myself up with morphine and popped some pills. Yes, I was an addict and a junkie. This has gotten too long…….I will cover the events that led me to rehab, and relapse in my next post……

It All Started At Birth (Age 16 ~ This Part Is A Bit Rough) Warning: Potential Trigger

Where was I? Oh yes, my parents were waiting for me, and they were angry although not quite as pissed off as I was. However, I may have been in shock by the time I got home. All my parents had to say was the equivalent of “Where the hell have you been”? I didn’t answer. If I remember correctly I told them to fuck off, and gave them the finger as I turned around and headed down the hall to bathroom. All I wanted to do was bathe…..for hours. You would think one of my parents would have found it odd that I stayed in the bathtub until about 3 am. If I were a parent, this would worry me. I had obviously been crying, my whole demeanor had changed in a matter of an hour or so, and I told my parents to fuck off which I had never done in my life. But, life was different now. Something had been stolen from me that night that could never be replaced; my innocence, faith in people, belief that most people were decent at heart. I knew differently now. People, including my parents, were not to be trusted in any way, shape, or form. I cold not believe that my parents had yelled at me for being late especially when there was something clearly wrong; I mean, who takes a four hour bath at 10 at night. Clue number one, and they chose to ignore it. Loss of interest in school, running away, staying out all night without calling, and the beginning of my experimentation with alcohol and drugs. And, they couldn’t see anything was wrong. I never did tell them what had happened to me that night. They would not have believed me. They thought I lied all the time, and the more dramatic, the better.PTSD ~ Silence

I am still pissed off at them for not taking time to find out why I was late, and why I seemed so “out of it”. Parents are supposed to support and protect their kids as best as they can, and mine yelled at me for being late because I was too busy being assaulted. Something died in me that night, and it has never grown back. It has a simple name: trust. I couldn’t trust my own parents. I couldn’t trust anybody. To this day, I have this thing about being as clean as possible, and I still do not trust anyone that I do not know well. I look over my shoulder when walking down the street, I have an exaggerated startle reflex, I have infrequent (thank all the powers that be) nightmares, I always feel like I am being followed, or that everyone has an ulterior motive that is bound to hurt me. The thing that has always bothered me is that I can see the whole episode as if I am floating above it, and I can feel it in the first person. So, I have the disassociated third person view, and I have the first person view. It is pretty nifty. I didn’t repress any of the attack. It is as fresh in my mind now as it was then. This incident probably shaped who I was then more than anything else that had occurred up to that point.

Bullies at school be damned; I had just survived something far worse than bullying, and it was made so much worse by the fact that I could not count on my parents to listen. They didn’t actually find out or even believe it had happened until my therapist told them. I guess it took someone with a Ph.D. for them to truly believe, and this was about 17 years after the fact. Sad, just freaking sad on so many levels. 

As I stated earlier, This marked my initial foray into the world of what became a really bad substance abuse problem. At first, it was smoking pot on occasion with a friend of mine. Then the pot smoking became a regular thing. It helped me deal with what had happened. Like I said, I didn’t tell anyone for about 2-3 years. The only thing that was apparent was my grades fell dramatically. If I had wanted to die before, I really wanted to die now, and I really didn’t give a flying f*&^ what happened to me after that. Sexual assault is one of the most devastating events anyone can live through. It is completely different than any other form of physical violence because in a matter of minutes, your whole life and outlook change. Hitting someone is one thing, and yes, it can break a person down over a period of time. Sexual abuse makes the survivor feel dirty, ashamed, guilty, and like it was somehow their fault. And, you know intellectually these ways of thinking and feeling are not right, but your heart and soul don’t know that. So that was the opening of my 16th year on this planet. Not a good start. The “drug years” follow, but they are hazy…..very hazy….

It All Started At Birth (Ages 12-16) Warning: Potential Trigger

IMG_0018I left the telling of this long story about how I came to experience madness at the age of 12. As I mentioned in the first part of this tale, this was the beginning of my series of trial and error attempts at killing myself. This one would be the first attempt. I used ammonia to try and poison myself after being reprimanded for cursing at the explosion of the soda bottle upon opening it. At the time, I was prepubescent, very emotional, unhappy at school, and had a general sense that something must be wrong with me due to the fact that I reacted to most things with emotion rather than rational thought. A rational person would not have done what I did in reaction to being reprimanded, however, I think it was a result of built up tension and the anxiety that I constantly felt. I was never good enough. I never could seem to reach the bars set for me by both my parents, and the even higher bars I set for myself. I literally set myself up to fail. I didn’t see that at the time, though. However, it is still a very early age to be contemplating suicide, and impulsively carrying the thoughts into reality. That should have been a warning signal to the adults in my world that something was off kilter about how I perceived the world and my reactions to it. It took the Principal of my middle school/junior high school calling a parent-student meeting, and explaining that I was having trouble with school, that I was being bullied, and seemed socially isolated (which I was). So, my first suicide attempt didn’t appear to have set off warning bells in the adult’s brains, but my behavior at school did, and led to my first therapist. 

The first therapist I saw was truly no match for me in every sense of the word “match”. She was a rather large woman who complained constantly that she had to go to Dallas, Texas to purchase clothing as there were no stores in this city that catered to the “plus-size” professional woman. At 12, I saw a logical answer to the having to go to Dallas to buy clothes: Lose weight. Seemed logical to me, so, upon having learned that my parents had seen fit to tell her that I still sucked my thumb (I did up until a few years ago while I slept, but not while I was awake), and her telling me I was too old for that behavior, I told her I would make a deal with her. If she stopped complaining about the shopping issue she had and lost some weight, then I would make a conscious effort to stop sucking my thumb. Seemed reasonable to me, but apparently it was an offensive bargain to her. That was the last time I saw her. That was the last time I saw anyone for about 4 years. Apparently, I was not cut out for therapy, at least at that time in my life. The next 4 years would be integral in shaping who and what I became for the next 20 years, give or take a few on either side.

I found myself at the age of 12 nearing my 13th birthday taking tests to get into a private school. My parents had decided to remove me from the public school system so that I would be more intellectually challenged (I was really bored at school), and so I would not be knocked around by the other kids. I had no idea that I was going to have to learn to swim with sharks. I remember the first day of school at the “new and improved” private school. My father brought my younger sister and myself to school early that morning. I was crying and telling him that I wanted to be taken back to my old school, that I didn’t want to be at this much smaller and “elite” private school.  I think that somehow my instincts were telling me that I was a bad fit for this school; that I had better get back to my old school where the violence was physical and not psychological. I knew how to handle physical violence. I was ill prepared for what these kids could dish out. I somehow just knew that everything about me from the clothes I wore to the music I listened to was about to go under the magnifying glass, and that I would not pass muster. I was right. I did not pass go, and I did not collect $200.00. My clothes were all wrong, where I shopped was all wrong, my hair wasn’t right. and I most definitely listened to the wrong music (I just couldn’t get on the 80′s British New Wave invasion train; I was a rocker, not a whiner).

This was where it started to get really bad. If I thought that what I had endured for the past few years was bad, I was so very, very wrong. I was in the shark pool now, and I did not know how to swim. I was now at the mercy of a bunch of rich kids who thought money could buy everything including people as long as they were worth buying. I was not worth much therefore I had few friends for the first year. It did not help that I left school for three months to travel to Japan to live for a few months. When I left in early January of that year, everything was fine. When I returned to school later that year in the spring, everything was different, and tense. My few friends were not really my friends anymore. Or at least that is how it felt. I had yet to experience what they were really capable of doing to a person. I found that out a couple of months into my freshman year where I became an “Upper” class student (yes, this school was that bad. You didn’t go to high school, you became an “upper” class student, and those below you were “lower”class students. Caste system?). 

When I was 14, I was a “popular” kid for about 2 months of the very beginning of the school year. Then I said the wrong thing to the right person, and everything changed overnight. I had no idea that sharks had a calling tree. Go figure? I went to school the next morning, and I had no friends at all. I started receiving phone calls at random times after school with the voice at the other end wondering why my mother hadn’t had an abortion, why I didn’t just kill myself and put everyone out of their misery, and other choice things. I began to have anxiety attacks whenever the phone rang. Being ignored at school made it even worse. Most people do not consider ignoring a person as a form of psychological warfare, but it is, in fact, a very effective tool that can really make a person question their worth. Thus began the first major depressive episode. I did not talk to people including my parents, I did not eat, I slept all the time, and I had some physical symptom as well.

Eventually, I made friends with a girl who had been a freshman when I was in 8th grade. She had returned to this elitist, preppy hell of a school after something happened in another school. She was in my computer class, and was continually falling asleep in class for a reason I did not know. I just thought it was weird. as it turned out she and I shared musical tastes, and that was enough to start a friendship that lasts to this day. She knew the guy I really liked who worked at the big video and record store back in 1986, when I was much younger and much less “experienced” than I am now (yes, I returned the vinyl recording of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” four times claiming there was a scratch on it just so I could see this long-haired rocker guy…..I had it that bad). She introduced me to him, and I was beside myself. With her I began to hang around a completely different crowd; people who were odd just like me. I met a guy I liked, and we became boyfriend and girlfriend.IMG_0062

Then the worst thing in the world happened. I was at his apartment, and no one else was home. We were fooling around on the couch and somehow found my self on my back with tugging my jeans off. He assaulted me that night. I was just barely 16 and a virgin. Afterwards, he thanked me. how sick is that when you have just raped your girlfriend. I told him that I was a virgin, asked him why he was all bloody, and then I backhanded him so hard his head whipped around. I got home to find my parents waiting for me, however, I think I will stop here and post the next installment soon……

It All Started At Birth (An Ongoing Story About How I Arrived Here) Warning: Potential Trigger

It all started the moment I was born with a predisposition to being moody. I was apparently a difficult and demanding baby and child. I can remember being and feeling very sensitive to others even as a toddler. I know “they” say we cannot remember that far back, but I do not believe that. I can remember the house that I first came home to from the time that I was about two. Obviously, I do not recall being an infant, but I can remember my younger sister as an infant which would put me at about 2 years of age. I can recall her nursery. It was the early 70′s, and she had shag carpet in her room. I vividly recall stepping on a toothpick in that room, and she was still in a crib. I recall feeling rejected when she didn’t want to play with me, and crying as I played alone. Loneliness and being or feeling alone are both very prominent in my life, and have been for many years. There really is not a feeling that is worse than that sense that you are alone even when you are with someone. Well, maybe there is, but I have not experienced it yet. 

psychosis_picSo, I was born with the genes that predisposed me initially to deep depressions, and finally a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder. My paternal grandmother was a manic depressive who went untreated. Since the first approved treatment for Bipolar was Lithium in 1972, she would have been undiagnosed and unmedicated for about 63 years. One can only imagine the living nightmare that would have been. Well, actually, I can imagine it as I lived it for many years not knowing what was wrong. Or, more specifically what was causing the nightmarish shifts in mood. Perhaps she was allergic to lithium as I am, but I really think she just didn’t know what she had. There really wasn’t a diagnosis for manic depression when she was growing up, getting married, having children, and living her life. Besides I do not think she thought anything was really “wrong”. My grandmother typically would be in the manic phase of the illness, although she and my grandfather did not share a room for whatever reason (perhaps depression or extreme mania that he needed to get away from). She was always flitting around barely able to keep still making sure guests had everything that they needed or could want. She was very social during these episodes. She was also in the early stages of Alzheimer’s which also has a genetic component. That scares me due to the fact that it is her genetics that partially contributed to my mood disorder. The maternal side of my family has it’s own history of depression. So, I got it from both sides.

I think the first time I can remember being truly depressed was when I was still in grade school. I had few friends and the ones I had tended to drop me fairly quickly. In fact, I do not remember having a “best friend” that was another little girl. My best friend at the time was the step son of a man my father worked with at the University. Seems like every time I think about the friends I have had over the years all have been male. Anyway, I had one good friend, and the rest were to be avoided at all costs as they bullied me relentlessly. Perhaps that is why I tend to be a bit closed off. Or maybe, I just had not encountered The Art of War yet.

I remember not wanting to go to school, and pretending to be sick so I could stay home and be by myself. I think I was about 10 years old when I first really recall being depressed in a clinical sense. I wanted to be a cat more than anything in the world because they seemed to have it pretty good. They were relaxed (unlike dogs who need a lot of attention), they just wanted to eat, sleep in the sun and be petted. It appeared good to me.

At the time I was in the “gifted” program for students who had IQ’s in that range, and needed additional educational and creative outlets. We got to leave class for an hour and go do neat things like dissecting frogs or doing research papers on an assigned topic. I had been in the program since the age of 7, and we were all pretty much outcasts because the other students did not understand why we got to leave the regular class room. I knew one kid who could solve a Rubik’s cube (no matter how messed up it was) within about 5 minutes. He was probably a genius on some level.

Moving on….I was 10 when I first recognized that my moods and perceptions were different than others. I thought that no one could possibly like me, I was pretty convinced that my parents didn’t love or want me (I was a birth control failure), and I had an overdeveloped fight or flight instinct when faced with something that I perceived as a threat to me. If I was teased in any way, I ran. If I had to give a presentation like a book report, that triggered a strong flight instinct. I ran from almost everything, and could be counted on being found crying on the swings in the back of the playground. I appeared weird, and “not cool” to the other kids, and topping it off was that I could identify and perceive adult emotions, but I could not process them. I was too young. So it all came out in emotional outbursts, anger and aggression towards others, etc. All of which are classic symptoms of depression in a child. I also had, in my mind, decided that if I were to die that nobody would come to the funeral. Suicidal ideation in a child of that age? Probably. I could see it so clearly. The casket, the flowers, and the very random people of which there were few that actually cared to come. I definitely wanted to be if not invisible to others, then dead. Everything hurt too much. I just wanted out. I was 10, and I wanted to die more than anything in the world. My first attempt at leaving this world behind came when I was 12.

Nobody knew any of this was going on in my head; not my parents, not my teachers, not my few friends. I kept it to myself because I honestly believed that I would be better off dead, and I did not want to tell this to anyone although there was clearly something abnormal about my mood. Kids that age typically play with one another, and all I wanted to do was be alone so I could read. At the time, I was reading a lot of Nancy Drew books, and I wished I could be more like her. I could read two or three books in a day. I really do not know what my parents thought. They weren’t really around. My mother was busy as a full-time Law student, and my father did a lot of traveling for work. Of course, now I can look back and see that I was probably delusional, and operating on some form of psychosis. I just recall feeling really bad about myself and my worth as a member of this planet. Like I said earlier, I was 12 the first time I tried to kill myself. I drank ammonia mixed with soda after being disciplined by my parents for using a curse word when the soda fizzed up and out when I took off the lid. I look at it from the perspective of an adult with mixed episode Bipolar with psychotic features, and I can see how inherently pointless it was to try something like that for getting “talked” to by my dad for cursing. 

Since my word count is already in the 1300′s, I will start the next part in middle school when everything gets worse than I thought it could get…….

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