Web MD defines Bipolar disorder as:
“Bipolar disorder is a complex genetic disorder. The mood swings associated with it alternate from major, or clinical, depression to mania or extreme elation. The mood swings can range from very mild to extreme, and they can happen gradually or suddenly within a time frame of minutes to hours. When mood swings happen frequently, the process is called rapid cycling.
Along with the dramatic mood swings, patients with bipolar disorder may have disturbances in thinking. They may also have distortions of perception and impairment in social functioning.”
Mental health care in America is at crisis. From people not understanding Mental illness, to people not believing that it exists; it’s going undiagnosed and untreated. It is estimated that ten million Americans suffer from some sort of Mental illness; these are mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters; people we love and care about, living in absolute hell. This article may help people understand what I go through with my Mental illness; not to seek pity.
I’ve always been a bit of a loner; that’s the way I choose to live—I’m a diagnosed Bipolar person.
In 2003, after seeing my father go to federal prison, my now ex-wife yelling at me, and trying to get into the University of Utah, I had a mental breakdown. I was under so much stress that I snapped and started hearing voices. Now, these weren’t voices of kindness or loving voices of peace; these were voices of devils telling me to do unspeakable things; to sum it up I went to the state hospital. I was in there for 17 days, under suicide watch the whole time—when I snapped I tried to commit suicide twice- thank the Lord I didn’t succeed.
While I was in there my wife (at the time) left me and moved from the U of U to Greeley, Colo. She left me alone for eight months. During that time I was learning to deal with extreme emotional swings, trying to do it—cope with these emotions—without medication; bad idea. About the third month after she left, I again tried to kill myself by ingesting a bunch of Tylenol and a fifth of Vodka—I know that right about now you’re probably thinking to yourself; “Holy s---, James is crazy!”
I don’t think that “crazy” is a strong enough word. In my opinion there’s not a strong enough word to explain the pain of being alive, where every thought is of your death: It’s not a pretty thing. My friend Zack showed up and saved me, called the ambulance; again I was admitted into the state hospital, this time for 21 days. I got out and four months later my wife invited me to come to Colorado.
I lived in Colorado from the end of 2003 to April 14, 2007… I was mostly happy. We bought two houses, had a few nice cars, I thought everything was perfect—was I ever wrong! At the beginning of 2007 I stopped taking my medicine—I thought I was okay. We had been married seven years and the subject of kids came up. To my stupidity I wasn’t able to control what I said, I told her that I’d never have kids with her because she was too much of a “bitch.” Needless to say she kicked me out and three months later we divorced; that was the waiting time for a divorce in Colorado.
When I got here I started drinking in the excess, having unprotected sex with every woman that walked, fighting, swearing like a sailor, and spending money I didn’t have; all classic signs of Bipolar disorder.
I lived like that for about a year: extremely manic, not knowing or understanding the consequences of my actions. I got put back on my meds, I thought I was okay.
I started dating; dated some really cute girls. I got engaged, then the manic or depressive moods would set in and it would scare them off.
Then I’d get engaged again, and again the mood swings would scare them off. This happed four times. I decided to not date anymore and get my college education; which brings us to today.
I still have a lot of the same issues. I think horrible thoughts, I’m a bad alcoholic, and I spend money I don’t have. I’m what’s called a “Rapid Cycling” Bipolar—meaning that you go from manic to depressed monthly or sometimes weekly, daily or hourly. It scares me.
Most times I drink because for a moment it makes me feel accepted but that feeling is only temporary. I don’t have “friends” per say. I stay in my dorm room because it makes me uncomfortable to be in places I don’t know; but when I go out, I’m extremely social—fake it right? I always have the thought of acceptance on my mind. Yet, I really don’t think that I’ll ever be accepted in social situations.
The one thing that I want more than anything—a family—I’ll never have. I’m alone and decided that’s the way it should be. I don’t ever again want to see that look on a woman’s face when I say or do something wrong.
I’ve tried to go to therapy but it’s hard to hear advice from someone who doesn’t know what I’m going through or doesn’t understand the truth of Bipolar; you’re never cured. Currently I’m manic, I haven’t slept in about 50 hours and I’m not tired. When I’m depressed all I think about is suicide. When I get like this, I listen to music to help myself calm down, or turn the light off and lay in my dorm bed, this is me when I’m current on my medicine.
Currently I’m on six different medications for Bipolar disorder. Some of them are mood stabilizers, some anti-anxiety, and two anti-psychotic medications. Now, these are not optional medications and they cost about $400 - $500 a month. I can’t work because of my disability, also because I’m a student I’ve been denied Medicare so I can’t get help with that cost. Whereas if I had a physical disability I would have no problems getting help with medication, hospitals, doctor visits, etc.
There have been countless times when I’ve been sitting in class and overheard a conversation of someone making fun of people with Mental illnesses. It seems socially acceptable to poke fun of the Mentally ill; why is that? Our disability is every bit as disabling as a person who has Down Syndrome or has to be in a wheelchair because of Multiple Sclerosis. In some cases, Mental illness is so much worse. We’re all scared of what we don’t understand. We need to realize though that someone is always listening. Even though we have our problems—people with Mental illnesses—no one likes to be made fun of.
I hope that in some small way I conveyed my message. I’ve lost everything in my life that I’ve ever cared about due to Mental illness. In some aspects I’ve grown; I’ve gained a unique understanding of disabilities.
If you’re having any problems like described above, there is an AMAZING resource we students have: the Disability Resource Center. There you’ll find some of the most caring, loving, affectionate, understanding, and knowledgably women I’ve ever met. You can visit them at http://www.ceu.edu/disabilityresource/.
To learn more about Bipolar, other Mental illnesses and how you can help please visit:
I never do anything illegal or against the rules on campus at USU/CEU