TRIGGER WARNING THIS CONTAINS INFORMATION REGARDING EATING DISORDERS AND SUICIDE:
I realized today I haven’t shared much in the way of my history. I was anxious as a kid. Anything new like the first day of a new school year would mean a night without sleep as well as any major event…first communion, confirmation, school field trips (I went to a Catholic school and grew up in a Catholic home), etc. I had a Dad who meets (and admits to this) the criteria for Bipolar 1 Disorder but has never taken any psych meds besides Xanax that I know of. The result was living with someone who chose to succumb to rage outbursts leading to physical abuse of my sisters and me and hypersexuality which lead to sexual abuse of me as I was younger than my sisters and my Mom didn’t start working a second shift job until I reached school age. By then my older sisters were in afternoon activities and I would arrive home alone to my Dad and sexual abuse was a daily occurrence which went on for a lot of years.
I hit puberty and was really freaked out about the responses of my body among other worries. My sisters, were size 2 and a size 4. Though my bone structure was much bigger than either of theirs, I struggled to accept my body image starting at age 11-12 years old. By 13 I had started restricting my food intake drastically. By 14 I added in exercising to the point that passing out was sometimes an issue. I ate at times because I had to to keep up appearances at our required family dinner together but began to vomit as well restrict food intake. I would continue to struggle with this pattern throughout my mid 20’s until finally stabilizing.
I got mono at the age of 15 which triggered my first depressive episode and I struggled with depression and suicidal ideation throughout high school. At one point my school counselor told my parents that I was thinking about suicide. Because my mom was sick most of the time, when they asked me about it I denied it was a problem. They dropped the topic entirely. Less than a month later, I had a plan to commit suicide while on an out-of-state trip for Spring Break. Someone figured it out while I was in route though and while they never told my parents, they kept a close eye on me for the rest of that trip. To be honest the depression made my eating disorder so much worse the next year. I was back to passing out or nearly passing out at times.
Mania began during my first semester of college when I began to pull all nighters due to procrastination. I would go a week without sleeping then crash and sleep for 20 hours a day. My Freshman year was dismal with my g.p.a. lower than I had ever had it before. I fell in love with a guy who broke my heart and it impacted my situation with my entire group of friends. Less than a week after my 19th birthday, I overdosed for the first time. I was required by the university to attend counseling which made little to no impact at all. I just hung out with some marginal friends and didn’t let the others know I was in pain. (That’s where an eating disorder numbs things out sometimes…) I didn’t sleep at all during final’s week and then returned home to compete in a state wide competition that I had a month to prepare for in my last year of three to compete while working 10 hour shifts five days a week in a warehouse. I slept a maximum of 3 hours a night during that month and while I won the state competition and was headed towards Nationals, I started to not feel well physically. I spent the rest of the summer and beginning of the school year in hypomania to mania until I crashed a little later that Fall when a friend tried to kill herself. I was eventually sicker than a dog that Sophomore semester and diagnosed with Epstein Barr Virus. I was in and out of the hospital medically while my parents were in Europe for months visiting my sister. I spent the remainder of college trying to practice self care skills while I was given handicap status at the university to be able to make up incompletes while continuing to take a full load of classes and eventually begin to work again. I graduated with a phenomenal g.p.a. considering how bad my Freshman’s g.p.a. was. I vacillated between hypomania to dysthymia with a few breaks to mania but managed to control most of my mood swings for the most part for the remainder of college. (I started therapy though my last year of college. During that year I lost 25% of my body weight and my therapist had me see a different PCP who diagnosed me with Anorexia.)
After college, I struggled to get a job in my field and in a location where I liked. I finally moved back to West Michigan and took a nondegreed position so that I could be closer to my friends and supports. I struggled with depression and was put on an SSRI for the first time when I was 25 and it put me into a mixed state episode. They continued to try different SSRI’s until I was about 30 when I finally saw a psychiatrist for the first time. She prescribed a different combination of meds that didn’t make me feel nuts with no sleep, mixed state episodes, etc. They did tend to leave me in extended periods of hypomania with reduced need for sleep, increased productivity, increased socialization, racing thoughts, and hypersexuality. These continued until I had a miscarriage in 2003 and entered a long and deep depressive episode which ended up with me overdosing and ending up in the ICU on life support for several days 4 months after the miscarriage. Finally, at the age of 34, I was given diagnoses of Bipolar 1 Disorder and PTSD which still apply today.
In 2006, I was sexually assaulted during a manic episode which I was drinking and believed my drink was spiked but felt too guilty and ashamed to receive treatment at the E.R. because they would have known who I was professionally. I didn’t tell anyone except treatment providers about this until last year after I was hospitalized psychiatrically for 44 total days in 2 back-to-back hospitalizations.
I have had several psychiatric hospitalizations and have struggled with suicidal ideation. I deal with a lot of mixed state episodes. I have rarely felt like my mood is stable- (“Stable is a place for horses.”) I am med compliant and struggle with regular sleep patterns. I am actively involved in DBSA on the local level. I, also, have gone to 12 step meetings.
That is my history for the most in a nutshell,