As a kid, I was normal. I had two wonderful parents who loved each other and loved me and my siblings. I didn’t suffer any sort of trauma or abuse that people sometimes associate with mental illnesses later in life. Everything was peachy keen.
My problems were more “organic” (as one doctor put it). It started when I was a teenager. I was moodier than most. Quick to tears and bursts of anger. Bouts of depression that made me think a lot about death and the relief it would provide. I was diagnosed with PMDD… extreme PMS. The doctors chalked it up to raging hormones and at this point I hadn’t found my voice to question the doctors.
It wasn’t until 2008, when I had my first daughter, that I started taking my “moodiness” more seriously. I cried all the time. I had panic attacks. I was terrified of my daughter… I had no idea what I was doing and felt completely alone. One morning, when my daughter was a few months old, I wouldn’t let my husband go to work. I had been up all night with the baby and I lost it. I was sobbing and shaking… afraid of letting my husband go to work, for fear of what I might do to myself or the baby. So he stayed home and I drove myself to the doctor who promptly diagnosed me with Postpartum Depression. I was given antidepressants and reassurance that this was common. After a while, things got better.
Until they didn’t. Depression reared it’s ugly head again. Back to the doctor I went, who put me on different antidepressants. I started seeing a counselor too. This went on for years. I would feel better for a little while, then I’d be depressed and the doctor would switch my meds again.
In 2016 my family and I moved to Atlanta. This is when anxiety reared it’s ugly head. At first I tried to brush it off thinking I just had to get used to living in a big city (we came from a small down) and I would be better. But it got to the point that I was missing events at the kids school and my husband’s work functions because I was having panic attacks just thinking about going. At this point I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety and given even more meds.
Finally in December of 2017 things came to a head. I was fed up. I was done fighting and didn’t want to exist anymore. I was having , what they call, “suicidal ideations”. So I went to the ER and checked myself into the psych ward. They kept me there long enough to stabilize me, put me on Abilify (an antipsychotic) and sent me on my way. But I never went back to feeling like “myself”.
In March of 2018 I checked myself into another psychiatric ward. This time I did my research and found a hospital program with great reviews. The staff was wonderful. They actually listened. It was their suggestion that I enter an outpatient program where I go home, but attend a program 3 days a week for 4 hours a day.
That brings us to today. I am currently in my 5th week of the outpatient program. It’s wonderful. We have lots of group therapy and 1 on 1 therapy with our own personal therapist. But most importantly, once a week, I get to talk to a psychiatrist who actually takes the time and listens. He was the one who suggested that the reason that all these antidepressants weren’t working for me was because I have Bipolar 2 Disorder. Instead of the “manic” episodes that are portrayed in movies, mine manifested as extreme anxiety and restlessness. This is why I have been misdiagnosed so much in the past.
As of now, I’m on mood stabilizers and still continuing with the outpatient program. For the first time in a long time, I have a little bit of hope that we may have finally figured this thing out.