Giving us an insight into bipolar disorder, is guest author Shauna Smith.
What I didn’t know then, that would have changed my life…
When I was young, as far back as I can remember I was depressed, emotional and moody. I was very sensitive, easily hurt and bullied regularly. I went through the majority of my life living this existence of sadness, loneliness, hurt and fear.
My mother started taking me to the doctor for symptoms such as shortness of breath, and overly emotional outbursts, but they couldn’t or wouldn’t help. As a very young child I would hold my breath until I turned blue and my mother would grab me, smack me forcing me to breathe. They decided my shortness of breath was asthma and gave me an inhaler. I now know it was panic attacks. I wish my mother had been more direct with the doctors and gotten me some help as a child. Back then Mental illness was not discussed, people were suffering in silence and those that weren’t were labeled crazy. I must assume this is why my mother did not truly ask the doctors about depression. The doctors were not interested in treating kids for depression. They will grow out of it they all said and sent us on our way.
Today, it doesn’t have to be like that. Mental illness is just that – an illness – and even though there is still a stigma on it, things have come a long way. The internet has been a great tool for mentally ill people to find help and support from others like them. I remember when I first was diagnosed at the age of 30. Bipolar II disorder is my diagnosis. I told everyone because I was relieved! Why you ask? Because the rages and nastiness were finally proven not to be the real me, it was the illness and now it could be treated. I wasn’t The Bitch I was labeled as a child and through adulthood by my parents and others around me. I knew I was stuck inside this body that was controlled by an illness. Life could change!
My wish for those today that are suffering is that they will openly ask for help and receive support from family and the community rather than being an outcast or labeled crazy. I compare Mental Illness to diabetes regularly, they are both illness and would you be ashamed to say I have diabetes; no you wouldn’t so why be ashamed of Bipolar Disorder or any other form of mental illness? Some are affected by schizophrenia, I have a family member afflicted and it’s horrible but it can be treated. Will they have a perfect dream life, no but they will have a life and with help can enjoy living. Crazy needs to be stricken from the lips of society. We aren’t crazy, we are ill and treatable.
When I was going through treatment while I was unstable, I wish that I had trusted my instincts more about the doctors I had seen. I wish the general practitioners would have given me information or resources to research mental illness. I was simply given medicine and sent on my way in the early years. Those doctors need to learn how to recognize serious depression and get people information and help. Sometimes I think they are as ignorant as the general public where mental illness is concerned. The last doctor that finally sent me to a psychiatrist never looked me in the face and acted like he was frightened of me. Ha! Cracks me up, I was never rude to him or anything.
On my blog I write about my life with Bipolar Disorder and other aspects of my family. Both my girls are on medications and one of them is diagnosed the same as I am, Bipolar II. I started getting them treatment when they first started to have symptoms that affected their lives and I urge anyone with a child that has a problem to get them help. I was affected from a young age and I think had I gotten treatment earlier things would have been much better in my life. My objective with my blog is to show people that there is hope no matter how deep into your illness you are, you can climb out, it just takes determination and time. Believe in your strength and keep moving forward.
The best to you all – Shauna