Hi, I am anneinside and I wanted to share my bipolar history with you.
I an 51 and have been diagnosed as bipolar, type II. I see my psychologist weekly and my psychiatrist monthly, usually. I was diagnosed when I was 45 but I've had symptoms of bipolar since my first depressive episode at the age of 9 and was put in therapy. The next time I can recall being depressed, I was in my early teens and attempted suicide by overdose. I took enough pills but threw up so the only effect of the pills was that I slept all weekend. No one noticed because I didn’t miss any school.
During a majority of my adulthood, I occassionally had short periods of depression and episodes of hypomania in which I obsessed about something until I mastered it. The turning point was in the fall of 1992 when I was 41. First, my huband left me for another woman. He said he wasn't coming home because he didn’t' like the carpeting in the bedroom. In a mixed episode, I took out all the carpeting, removed all the staples, filled the holes, sanded and varnished the floor while working fulltime and not eating at all. (I lost 20 pounds in 21 days) I was put in the hospital after I became suicidal and stayed there for a month. Two months later on December 30th, while my ex was driving, my only chilld, my sixteen year old daughter was killed. Depression dropped like a ten ton weight. Once I tried suicide by attempting to inject air into my veins. That is when I discovered that cutting myself and bleeding made me feel better. I became a self-injurer.
I continued to work until the following fall (I was a special education teacher). Then I finally fell apart and was put on disability for two years. During that time, I tried suicide by overdosing twice and was saved once because my mother called and the other time because after I was under the influnce, I called a hospital ER to see if I had taken enough pills (LOL). During a hypomanic episode, I once bought a new car because I had to have leather seats. At the end of the two years, I decided to go back to school and earn a doctorate. I was okay during the three years I worked on the doctorate except for short hypomanic episodes and occassional anxiety attacks.
I accepted my first job as a professor at a Florida college and had anxiety/depression "attacks" which were mixed episodes about every 3 to 4 months during the two years I taught there. I then moved to Minnesota and continued the same pattern for about three years when I finally fell into a black hole. I was hospitalized numerous times (12+) for suicidal depression during the next two years. Finally, my depression became immobilizing and my psychiatrist put me on leave for disability. I came back the next year half-time for fall semester and did okay. Then back to fulltime in the spring. About four weeks into the semester I was unable to get in front of a class, I couldn't remember what I was going to say about each powerpoint slide…I couldn't think, concentrate or smile…. I couldn't teach anymore. I was put back on leave of absence for a medical disability.
It's been two years since I was put on total disability. I have been put in the hospital once and a crisis center twice for active suicidal thoughts. I had ECT with maintenance ECT weekly for six months ending last October. In the last two or three years, I have been on lithium, wellbrutrin, effexor, prozac, tofranil, trazadone, cymbalta, lexapro, depakote, lamictal, seroquel, abilify, anafranil, zoloft, concerta, ambien, xanax, adivan, and probably more that I can't remember. Right now I am just coming out of a depressive episode which followed a hypomanic episode in which I spent over $700 in one week on doll making supplies (at least not as bad as when I spent $10,000 on siding I had to have for the house).
Right now, I live alone with two small dogs, a papillon and a yorkie. I volunteer twice a week at an organization that refurbishes computers for people with low income, on disability and the elderly. I meet a friend at a local diner for breakfast Monday through Saturday. I go to a bipolar support group twice a month and see my therapist every week. Other than that, I stay home and feel content with my life (when I'm not depressed). When I look at ads for special education professors, I become anxious and overwhelmed. I don't know if I can ever return to teaching but I haven't gotten rid of all my planning materials. For now, I am on SSD and have a quiet life.