*Before reading this I would like to address this article might be triggering to some who deal with severe mental illness and have had some connection to suicide. I have added some appropriate humor to my own experiences with mental health to lighten the mood, so please do not think I do not take this subject seriously because I very much do.
Never in my life would I have imagined I would be a rollercoaster. Well, not literally but days living as an “average” person with Bipolar I sure feel like one. The constant ups and downs of the illness feel like the upward and downward hills of Bipolar Depression even the loop di doos. Those are always the worst spiraling and spiraling out of control until the point of my eyes joggling in the back of my mind and all I want to do is escape the ride. The only problem is the only option of escape is unbuckling my belt resulting in a painful but quick fall to my death. Guess that pretty many sums up my suicide attempt well that is if you consider my attempt an attempt. Regardless, the madness that took over my mind and body felt like those spiraling loops of the rollercoaster sending me to the ends of escape.
Two days. Two days that I tried to kill myself with a bottle of Tylenol. The first night when I knew it would be my last I cleaned my room, put on my favorite songs, said my favorite prayers, and wrote a suicide note with my door locked. For being as depressed, anxious, and full of guilt as I have I had this energy that everything would work out and killing myself was the best solution. As much as I was dying inside and sad to leave I knew everything would be better in my afterlife. Now what I am about to say may sound completely bonkers and believe me I know, if you don’t see anything crazy with what I am about to share then I guess we would probably get along. I would say I am a very spiritual person and believe that there is more than this life.
Ok not so crazy I mean a lot of people have shared beliefs of an afterlife, but I took my interpretation in my hours of madness to a whole new level. I thought I would die, go to Heaven, and become a volunteer to help others who struggle with suicide and help change the lives of everyone on Earth. I thought that if my life ended here it would only begin again. I thought I could be this superhero after death only if I killed myself and that drove my suicidal ideations. I thought suicide was a wonderful idea for me.
As I later look back on this moment I realize that I was in what they would call a dysphoric manic state or in other terms mixed state. This is when depression and mania perform a dysfunctional dance together at different tempos and styles. They tug, step on each others’ toes, and bicker yet never leaving each other’s grasp. It’s utter madness especially when mixed in with psychotic features.
Now before I get carried away with my story let me tell you what Bipolar Depression is. It is a mood disorder much like depression only that it consists of two extreme moods which are major depression and mania. Depression is a pretty commonly understood mood that is characterized by extreme imagined or real guilt, sadness, loss of interest, and low energy. It can be an extreme detriment to functioning in daily life.
Now mania one that many have not heard much about is a mood that is the complete opposite of depression. Imagine your best day and timesing it by four. Imagine yourself feeling like you can literally do anything you ever wanted without any hesitation or worry. Sounds great right? Well yeah, it is amazing and I have had many great consecutive nights staying up blaring music, working on projects, and writing nonstop because I had this endless energy and obsession with what I was doing. So yes it was wonderful, but when it gets out of control or becomes negative that is when it becomes a problem.
Many people with Bipolar end up making decisions during mania that can potentially lead to consequences that could ruin their lives as well as anybody around them. Credit card issues due to compulsive shopping, hypersexuality leading to escorting or infidelity, and other critical problems that break their lives as well as the people around them. In some cases, they barely carry any recollection of their actions.
Why is it so important to receive therapy for Bipolar depression? Unfortunately, many people with Bipolar go undiagnosed or do not receive treatment and some are even misdiagnosed with simply having unipolar depression. Another thing to know about Bipolar is that there are different kinds. I happen to inconveniently have the most severe kind, Bipolar 1. This means that I experience major depression, mild mania, and full blown mania with the potentiality to experience psychosis. So, in other words, a roller coater with a heck of a lot of rough patches.
I have experienced all these moods many times at least since I was a teenager just now the ups and downs shuffle through a lot quicker.
I did not even come close to committing suicide that night I ended up wearing myself down to the point of falling asleep. I also thought if I didn’t do it right something bad would happen and I was unable to take all my necessary steps. The next morning I remember feeling a burst of energy that everything would be fine. I would finish my finals and then go home for the holidays, but that feeling did not last long. The whole day I felt like all I wanted to do was end my life again. I even took Tylenol throughout the day to ease my way into it hoping that eventually, something would just give.
I made it home thankfully and immediately my mom knew something was up when I showed distaste for traveling down to Springfield to see my grandparents. She even explained to me earlier that she could just see it on my face that I was not doing well. Later that night I explained to my mom that I was feeling suicidal and that I planned to commit suicide that night in her apartment with the bottle of Tylenol I had in my bag. She and I agreed that I needed help, so she took me the hospital.
I spent three hours in the emergency room in a special room where they attend to suicidal patients. After speaking with a psychologist to see if I needed to be in the psych ward I ended up in one.
This was the turning point in my life where everything changed. Even after getting out of the hospital that did not end the thoughts until I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and started to receive intensive treatment for it. I have to give a big thank you to all my physicians for the hours they dedicated to helping me and others who go through similar situations.
I would like to share how you can help yourself during hard times by explaining my experiences with distracting and self-soothing. When I am in a rut I find that keeping my mind busy is essential. I don’t keep myself overly busy because that would turn against me, but when I find the right balance my mind does not run wild. Well as wild that is. Some of my favorite activities are to read, write, listen to music, go shopping, and go do an activity outside. These are activities I am very passionate about and take my full attention distracting my mind from the bad. Other activities I do are self-soothing one. These are activities that are meant to temporarily get rid of the negative sensations I sometimes experience. Drinking tea, lighting a scented candle or incense, using essential oils, and taking deep breaths tend to help give me a break from the pain. Now what I do isn’t necessarily going to appeal to you, but if you stop and think about what you find, it might be helpful go for it. These activities won’t necessarily solve your problems, but they will start to put you in the mindset for the road towards recovery.
I understand that there are some of you out there who do not believe in mental health problems and I see why you might think that way, but I want you to understand that these are real problems that affect many people around the globe. Mood disorders and Schizophrenia have been intensively studied and proved to neurobiological and they are illnesses found worldwide in every group and culture. They are real.
For those of you struggling and think that there may be a much bigger issue going on I urge you to reach out and ask for help. For you college students that I am especially writing to, I ask that regardless how big or how small you find your mental health issue to reach out to a friend, an instructor, a co-worker, or to the student clinic at UWM. Whether temporary or permanent everyone’s’ mental health matters and should be taken care of before it gets out of control. There are always people and resources out there who care about you and only want the best. So please reach out. It completely changed my life when I did and I was somebody who literally thought there was absolutely no reason to live, but I know now that is not true. There is always a reason to live no matter what.
I understand that I have recently written some articles on my disorder and I want to explain that I am not writing these for attention or out of selfishness. I write about these issues because I want others to know that they are not alone. I write about mental health because I am passionate about it and it is part of my healing process. Every day can literally sometimes be a challenge knowing how far my emotions go regardless of the medications I take. Yes, I have many personal matters and stressors like most that cause a lot of anxiety in my life. Most of the time I feel a certain way based on how my brain decides to work that day. I have had days where I perceive something all happy, positive and giddy than the next the complete opposite. My extreme moods play a huge role in how I go about doing things in daily life. I write about this for variety reasons but most importantly I hope helps others. So expect more stories.