[Submission]: Welcome, Shadow!

Shadow inboxed me on my Facebook page asking about support structures for someone who has bipolar disorder. I convinced them to write about their struggles. We really hope we’ll hear more from Shadow. I got a feeling there’s more to tell. –


-OLE Team

At the age of 15, I had my first psychiatric admission. I had multiple diagnoses but nothing really fit. I accepted it anyway, thinking the docs must know what they are doing. Right?

I didn’t know or realize that something was wrong but people noticed it. I guess for me the diagnoses of major depression disorder, anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, seasonal affective disorder and also self-harm daily sounded okay. I thought “I’m not that crazy” so that was okay but when I look back, with a clear mind, in real life, that is not normal. This, especially the self-harm bit, was a big part of me.

Things got better for a while after the admission but quickly got worse; it really went up and down a lot. At the age of 18 I was admitted for the second time and thought hey, I’m older now so I’m supposed to get my life in order but it was far from that. Luckily I passed grade 12 well with some help and I made it through. I remember I got 10 minutes extra for every hour I wrote. 10 minutes sounds so little but it helped a lot.

I went to study but I stopped after two years when I got admitted for the third time. Things were just too much with all the stress. I just couldn’t focus. When I entered the hospital I was very depressed and a few weeks down the line I became manic. I can’t remember how many days it was until I saw my psychologist.  As I entered the room and she immediately told me “you’re manic” and at the time I didn’t know what she meant. She told me that I’m talking too fast and I’m moving around in the chair. I remember telling her how I’m really pissed with the nurses because they don’t want to give me pain killers because I had a headache and they kept telling me to sleep when I couldn’t sleep so I just stayed away because I was really pissed. I just felt like hitting them.

After the session with the psychologist, she was shocked that the nurses never knew how manic I was. They immediately doubled all my meds and after about a week things started slowing down. So the final diagnosis was Bipolar disorder and then I thought I’m really very crazy right now and didn’t really accept it. How could I be crazy if no one in my family has this disorder?

I was used to the depression and thought I’d never get manic again but I was so wrong.

A few weeks later, after I got discharged, I tried to commit suicide but failed terribly. I guess that happens when you’ve got a family who cares and friends who look out for you. I can’t remember the days that followed because I was so drugged by all the pills I took. I can’t remember everything clearly, but I recall drinking some pills my psychologist phoned me to take. From there I was heavily sedated when they took me to the hospital. I stayed in High Care. It was such an eye-opening experience to see how much people really cared.

I thought I was alone and no one would care if I’m not there one day. I felt that I was giving everyone trouble with my manic and depressive episodes. But the truth is: people do care about you! It doesn’t matter if you think they don’t.

After, the first big manic episode I got another one the next year. It was totally different from the first one where I was talking fast and moving around and irritable or angry.

This time I was hallucinating.

I couldn’t read because the words would jump around.

I couldn’t make conversation because in the middle of my sentence I would forget what I was talking about.

My mind was racing so fast and I couldn’t sleep more than two hours a day.

Oh and I also spend money!

My lows are also as bad because then I sleep all day and hardly eat.

Ever since the attempt, my sibling keeps all my medication and I’m thankful for that. When I’m high or low I don’t think at all about what I’m doing.

I’ve started a job recently and a few days ago I went on a high and I panicked because I have to talk to people all day and I can’t lose my words when talking. I also work with numbers and I can’t mix the numbers up because they jumping around in my head. A lot of the time I’m sitting in the office and I wander in my head for about 15 minutes at a time and then realise I have to come back to earth to finish my work. To help me a bit, I took more meds than usual before it got out of hand. My worry is, what if one day the meds don’t decide to work and I’m unable to work? Do I contact my boss and tell him I’m at home because I have bipolar disorder? What is he going to think? What about my colleagues?

It’s winter now so I have lots of layers of clothes but what about in the summer? It’ll be 40 degrees outside and I can’t wear long sleeves because I’m going to get hot. I have scars all over my arms so I can’t wear short sleeve because they will know I’m “not right upstairs”. I don’t worry about what they think so much but I do worry how they treat me.

A friend told me I could get some accommodations if I’m struggling at work. My psychiatrist could help me with that but then again what if people at work have something to say?

We should all be treated equally. If I try my best to take my meds properly and sleep properly and eat three times a day but sometimes I still fail because I can’t control my head.

If my head wants to be high today, it’s going to be high. Even if I take my meds. If it wants to be low, it’s going to be low, even if I try and go on the treadmill for 10 minutes.

Unfortunately, we who have bipolar disorder, can only take our meds and try and handle each episode to the best of our ability. Other than that, our brains have the power to decide.

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