When did depression and bipolar begin in your life?
I really believe that I emerged from my mother’s womb with a worrying and depressed brain. It’s been there since the beginning. I was an anxious baby and toddler. In grammar school, I remember my mom telling me that she was going to take me to the hospital if I didn’t stop crying. My depression and anxiety have morphed into different animals at different periods of my life – OCD as young girl, substance abuse and eating issues as a teenager, and bipolar disorder in my 30s. Symptoms aren’t always acute, of course. I can go periods with depression and anxiety being on the backburner. But they are always there, a lingering shadow in the room that reminds me that insanity could be around the corner.
You’ve openly shared your medical journey over the years. What are some of the defining moments in your treatment that changed your life and moved you to a greater place of understanding and healing?
When I was at my worst point, I placed blind trust in a doctor who was prescribing me up to 20 pills a day of stuff, including sedatives, which I should not take as a recovering addict. My primary care physician and several other professionals claimed he was the best in town. After three months under his care, I couldn’t feel anything anymore. I couldn’t function. I dropped all of my freelance writing gigs and isolated in my house, crying nonstop. I also couldn’t eat and dropped a ton of weight. In short, I was a mess. But I was still convinced he knew better than I.
My husband and a friend had me hospitalized, and it was there that the doctors shook their heads at my cocktail. I began to detox. At one point, as I was sitting on the hospital bed in the inpatient program, I decided I would never ever bequeath my intuition again to another person just because someone told me he knew what he was doing. I took charge of my health. This meant that when I graduated to the outpatient program, I was a big pain in the behind, because I would not stop asking questions and challenging the doctors and nurses on their approaches. I had begun thinking for myself and didn’t take their answers without understanding it. I am the same way today. That’s one reason I love blogging – so that I can stay on top of all the research out today on mood disorders and try to educate my readers so that they can make informed decisions.