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Back to Life

I haven’t posted on my blog in 3 years.  I’ve spent the last 3 years in prison.  I’ve been home for 3 weeks.

Being removed from society and thrust into an environment that you are not familiar with at all was one of the biggest eye opening events.  Every other person in prison is diagnosed Bipolar.  They give the majority of people the same diagnosis and the same medication.  That is their solution for dealing with the mentally ill.

I’ll write more later on my experiences.  But now my future will involve advocacy work for the mentally ill and prison reform on dealing with the mentally ill.

Now its time to get back to life in the real world.

 

Do I Dare Say It?

New Years Resolution.

We all do it every year.  I start to think if I don’t say it out loud then maybe I won’t be setting myself up for disappointment.  It’s always sitting there in my head.  A reminder for the 365 days that lay ahead.  But when someone asks what my New Year’s resolution is I respond “don’t have one”.   Never confess to having a resolution.

For 15 years I’ve always had the same resolution; lose weight, eat better, make healthier lifestyle choices.  I think it was 2 or 3 years ago I realized, shouldn’t those things be a daily resolution?  Daily, yearly, I’m still trying to accomplish those things.  

I’ve always been extremely critical of myself.  No one is harder on me than me. I expect perfection even though I’m far from it.  I can tell myself and others that no one is perfect.  But I really should be. Sometimes I think I intentionally hold myself back because I’m more comfortable failing.  What would I do if I actually succeeded?  Then the expectations would be even higher.

Going through treatment over the last 5 months, my eyes are open for the first time.  I realize I’m really not that bad after all.  Sure I can lose a few pounds.  Yes I can make healthier choices.  But I think the best choice for me was discovering that I am Bipolar.  Because with the treatment I’m receiving I’m finally able to see things more clearly and become a little more comfortable with who I am.  I’m starting to consider goals and not be afraid of success and/or failure.

So, my New Year’s Resolution:  Take care of myself and continue to educate myself.  I’m starting all over again with discovering me.  And who knows, caring for myself might actually make those pounds disappear and the better choices will come much more easier to me.

Everyday Comments

Within the last 48 to 72 hours I cannot believe how many comments I have heard about people that are Bipolar. These comments have really struck a chord with me and make me realize how there is so much work to do to fight the stigma associated with Bipolar Disorder.

1. I really enjoy forensic/crime shows (my dirty little secret). I was watching an episode the other night where they solved an old case through DNA; the usual. But they talked about a woman who was a witness in the original trial and the second trial. They said “she was not a credible witness. She could not be trusted because she was bipolar.”

2. My sister was talking to me earlier this morning and we were chatting about our family and past holidays. She then was telling me how here boss was dreading their family’s holiday because they had so much chaos going on and to top it off her Bipolar aunt was hosting so they knew nothing would go right.

3. I was listening to an interview on CNN and again they were discussing a case. Someone who just happen to be at the event as a bystander was interviewed. His comment: “it takes a crazy person to do a crime like that. He must be Bipolar or something.”

All I keep thinking about is yes, there are people out there with Bipolar who are untreated and need help. They need to understand they could possibly have this disorder. They need to have someone in their life that can help them attain help for the disorder. And then they need the treatment so they can control the disorder.

But I wish I could tell everyone in this world that there are incredibly intelligent, responsible, creative, caring individuals with Bipolar Disorder. I just want people to understand the disorder and have some empathy. Twenty years ago if you suffered from depression, you were committed. Now the majority of the population is on some time of antidepressant. I hope some day the stigma of “bipolar” can be removed.

By the way, Merry Christmas 🙂

Mental Illness in Court

I don’t want to use my mental illness as an excuse. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was recently arrested and charged with committing a crime. I’ve never been in trouble before and have really led a very good life. I’ve had 5 or 6 professionals tell me that they believe I was symptomatic when committing this crime and that I should go to a mental health program rather than jail.
What keeps coming to mind is all the people that are in jail right now that probably are untreated. So why should I receive special treatment because I have bipolar disorder? I almost feel guilty that these professionals have sent letters of support to the judge so he knows I have a mental illness. My attorney I know is going to bring up my mental stability at the sentencing. Is this fair?
So many people fall through the cracks in our society. I had a well paying job, lived a middle class lifestyle and I fell through the cracks. I had so much more than so many people and I never received proper treatment. I can’t imagine the number of people out there who are less fortunate that struggle each day to understand why they feel the way they do.   Resources are not available to those who are less fortunate.  Particularly in my state; we rank among the worse in the US when it comes to mental health care.  I could go on and on about the disparities in our society. I just can’t help but wonder if because of these disparities I should not receive any empathy at my sentencing based on my mental illness. Why me and not the other person? Should everyone with a mental illness receive this much attention in the legal system and have their sentence based on their mental capabilities?
Time will soon tell for me.

The Up and Down Day

It’s funny to actually feel your mood swing.  Sometimes I can pinpoint the exact time when my mood shifted.  A day can start out so positive and full of energy.  It’s a euphoric feeling like nothing can go wrong.  Nothing does go wrong!  But by the end of the day you’re in bed by 8 o’clock and you dread having to get up the next morning to face another day.  What happened? How did I let my day go from that high to such a low?

I still struggle with my diagnosis. I take my meds as directed. If I start to feel depressed or “high” I question  why. Is this because of my meds? Is this how I’m really feeling and my meds need to be adjusted? Or is this just typical every day feelings that most people have. Some days I think I’m in denial of my illness.  So I get back online to educate myself on the meaning of Bipolar Disorder and the symptoms/signs of the illness. Then I go down the list checking each one; yes, yes, yes.  Damn!  I do have it!  Then I come to a conclusion; my feelings are typical every day feelings. They are typical every day feelings for someone with Bipolar Disorder.

I think it’s going to take some time to accept it and understand it. I do know this; it’s not a death sentence. There really is life with Bipolar Disorder!

My Rock Bottom

It took hitting Rock Bottom for me to finally be diagnosed with Bipolar disorder.  I was on a roller coaster for almost a year.  Stress at work and the relationship from hell, I found the only way to give myself a high and work my way out of depression was theft.  I have never, ever committed a crime in my life.  Aside from a traffic ticket 14 years ago, I never had any encounters with the law.  But within a nine month period,  I managed to steal a large amount of money from a company that I was the head executive of.  I lied, I manipulated and I hated myself after every episode.  It is so difficult to explain when someone asks why I did it.  But how do you explain your mental illness and the way you were feeling.  Do feelings drive you to commit crime?  Why couldn’t I just control my own behavior?  And the question I keep getting is “If you knew you had mental health problems, why didn’t you get help early on?”   How does someone with a mental illness know to go get help?  Does someone who is mentally ill truly know and accept that they are mentally ill?

Since this occurred and I was caught, I’ve been on medications, going to meetings, going to counseling and doing everything they say.  Unfortunately I may be heading to prison in January.

If even one person reads my blog and realizes they are not alone, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Finally Diagnosed

If only.  Those are the two words that have been going through my mind over and over again for the last four months.  For years I struggled with depression and mood swings never knowing why I was the way I was.  It took hitting rock bottom and committing a crime to finally be diagnosed Bipolar.  After being on the appropriate medication now it feels like being born again.  But it also opens my eyes to the stigma associated with mental health illness; as well as the  difficulties in our legal systems and health resources available.

I reached out for help from age 15 on.  Always diagnosed with depression, I tried medications that just didn’t seem to work.  But I was also never honest with any counselor I talked to.  How do you expect someone with mental illness to be completely honest with someone in order to get the correct diagnosis?  I think a major event in your life is what finally opens the health professionals eyes and your own.   That is not a knock on health professionals, but myself I’d sit in a session and smile, tell them everything was ok I just felt blue sometimes and didn’t have energy.   Those were the two things I always said was wrong.  I never mentioned the anger, the mood swings, the day long depression and week long highs. 

So now diagnosed I sit and wonder:  What if I had been diagnosed when I was fifteen?  

Would I have completed college?  Would I have gotten better grades?  Would I be in a healthy relationship?  Would I love myself?  If only I had been diagnosed.

But now I have been.  And it’s almost like feeling born again.  The best thing to come out of my “rock bottom” is that I’m becoming more of an advocate on mental health issues.  I hope that in some way my writings with relate to someone who might need help or may just need to realize “wow, i’m not crazy and there are other people who go through this as well”.  I’m one of those people.