Wednesday, August 15, 2012
As I was leaving one school to drive to another, my phone pinged to tell me I had a text. At the next red light I grabbed my phone to read it. At first I was shocked to see who it was from. I hadn't heard from her since early this year. Then I read the message and immediately, my heart sank.
Today marks a year. One year ago I was hospitalized for the first time since I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. One year ago my diagnosis flipped from PPD to Bipolar Disorder.
The text was from a woman I met while I was in the hospital. A woman who immediately took me under her wing, to show me the ropes so to speak. She saw the new girl and understood what that felt like.
She was texting to say what a pleasure it was to know me even under the circumstances, and to say that she is alive and well. A bajillion emotions came rushing back.
I was admitted to that hospital because I had a plan. A plan to die. To take my own life. But here I sit a year later full of life.
I reread posts I wrote after the fact and revisited what life was like one year ago. I was in a very dark place. Occasionally I revisit this dark place. I hate to admit that, but it's true.
I've been hospitalized since then. I've been Baker Acted since then. I've been on numerous medications since then. I've gone without medications completely since then. I became a cutter since then. I went back on medication since then.
When I read the words I once wrote it scares me. I can't believe I was that far gone. There are a lot of memories I'll probably never get back because I've gone through a series of electroconvulsive therapy treatments earlier this year. It wiped a lot of things from my head and I continue to have very short term memory to this day because of it.
Mental illness is a life long conviction. I'll be fighting this from now until the end of (my) time. I don't wish this way of life upon anyone.
Now I take one pill a day to keep me afloat. It helps for the most part. It's not a cure-all. I wish it were. I imagine that down the road I'll need to change my dose or add a new pill to my regimen or take a new one in its place. C'est la vie.
I write this today because I believe it's important to remember everything I've been through. I've come a long way. It's important to realize that each day will be different. The cycling is very rapid. Highs and lows. Highs and lows. Smiling one minute and sobbing the next. This is my life. My reality. I'm not ashamed.
There's one thing I've learned from all of this and I keep it with me every moment of every day. Compassion. Mental illness is happening all around us. That kid who is screaming when you're grocery shopping? He might have autism or ADD. The man talking to himself in the park? He might be trying to calm the voices in his head because he has schizophrenia. The woman in your office who smiles and answers, "Fine" when asked how she's doing but underneath she's dying inside? She probably has some form of depression.
Mental illness does not discriminate. Remember that.
Adopt a little compassion into your life.
End the stigma.