Bipolar Disorder

A Brief History of My Bipolar Illness

I tend to be more stable these days, but there was a prolonged period in life when I didn't know what was happening, and it took me to the threshold of Hell. Having not fully bounced back from the brink — and perhaps I never will — I thought a good backstory to my life would be entertaining before viewing any further blogs about my bipolar life. I have several crazy stories to tell but for the sake of keeping this short and giving you the basic idea, I'll only discuss a few of them here.

I always seemed to be very emotional as a child, and skateboarding kept me stable during a lot of that time. In the early 90s, I walked away from skateboarding, mostly because of a girl I started going out with in high school — when that badly ended a couple years later I was a chronic nobody with a mental illness that was starting to rear its ugly head, exacerbated by a variety of unpleasantness and circumstances. Aside from some people who continually tried to manipulate and provoke me, I had no goals, low self-esteem, little confidence, little common sense, and I was physically unhealthy.

Until I started to exhibit symptoms of bipolar-1 disorder in 1996 which people seemed to notice, I thought my unhealthy life was normal because for whatever reason I didn't know any better. Many people tried to tell me that I was not acting normal — I listened to them for a little while, however, the problem with accepting a life of medication and sobriety (no partying and self-medicating) was too scary, most likely because I had too many things wrong with me for it to be worth taking a straight path. Although I didn't realize it at the time, I believed there was no hope for a person like me, and continued further toward the brink.

In 1994 with one year of high school left, I made an explicit decision to start doing drugs. It wasn't a gradual gateway-thing where somebody let me try pot, which led to other things. No — I wanted a life of DRUGS. Why not? As far as I was concerned, I had nothing else. In 1996, after a couple years of experimentation, on the heels of an LSD trip that never seemed to go away, I ended up committed to a psychiatric hospital. Doctors told me I was exhibiting symptoms of bipolar-1 disorder. However, I wrote my behavior off as caused by drug use — furthermore, I didn't want to stop what I thought was fun. It all went on crazy like that for about 10 years.

One time after purposely overdosing on an antidepressant and street drugs, being pushed into what's called a "manic episode" of bipolar disorder, I stayed up all night thinking up and writing down imaginary mathematical formulas believing that I had discovered the cure for cancer. I stuffed my formulas into a backpack and got on a bus to San Luis Obispo, CA where I walked around homeless and crazy for a few weeks telling everybody that I had the cure for cancer. Why I picked San Luis Obispo, I can't remember — perhaps because it's such a nice area. Most of it was uncomfortable although some of it was fun — especially the part when I camped on the Morro Rock beach dunes with a bottle of Whisky and sleeping bag by myself, toasting with God about my perceived success. When I came back to my senses, I wasn't sure what to believe about what the doctors originally told me about my diagnosis. I kept wanting to write off my symptoms as caused by excessive drug abuse.

When I calmed down eventually and stopped abusing drugs, my symptoms of prolonged depression continued, naturally followed by those occasional manic (high) phases. Eventually, I started to suspect that doctors who I spoke to all those years ago were right about me — that I suffer from classic bipolar-1 disorder. Fast-forward to today. After starting a medication regimen, getting counseling, and becoming a Christian, I am more stable than I ever have been — though the fight isn't over.

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