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    Thread: Overcoming Bipolar Disorder

    1. #1
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      Default Overcoming Bipolar Disorder

      Hi Everyone, I am Nancy from Ontario Canada. I am 33 years old. I am new to the forum. My only reason of becoming a member is to share my success story and encourage you if you are suffering from Bipolar or other mental illness. My bipolar disorder was/is really really severe, but if I am doing so well right now, I think anyone is potentially treatable.

      When I was an infant, I was one of those babies that cry all the time. When I was a kid, I was described as very shy and introverted. I had a lot of phobias, I was afraid of spiders, bugs, rodents, darkness and ironically, death. My mental health got worse by the time I was a teenager. I was very sensitive and neurotic. It would take me forever to get over a negative encounter whereas someone else in the same shoes might not care at all. Between 16 to 18, for countless nights, I would stay awake for the entire night for no major reason. I always had this enormous amount of mental energy that kept me thinking all the time. The pace of my thoughts was always very fast. Being an extremely negative person, I always thought of people and things in their worst. When I turned 18, I started to date someone for the first time in my life. At the time, it was very special; I was happy, excited and extremely obsessed. When the relationship ended after just 4 weeks, the clinical symptoms of depression began to unfold and my journey officially started.

      The very first symptom was insomnia. No matter what I did, how I tried, I could not fall asleep. Part of my brain was really tired and exhausted and I was yearning all the time, but the rest of my brain was wild awake. The pace of my thoughts was firing like a machine gun, I could not stop thinking. Even taking 5 sleeping pills before bedtime, I couldn’t even get a nap. There were a lot of physical symptoms, I felt like my heart was beating fast, I had this huge headache 24/7, and a strong phobic feeling over nothing.

      Two weeks without any sleep, I started to have suicidal desires. At first, it was only on and off, I wanted to die but I wasn’t thinking about how to actually commit suicide. Four weeks of not getting any sleep, the nature changed. I started thinking of ways to do it. People described it as a “suicidal ideologies, or suicidal thoughts”, but that was not an accurate description of its nature. It was more like a need to die, a biological need. It was even more powerful than the needs for food and water. During my latter days, I could not even feel if I was hungry or thirsty. I could not even feel if I wanted to go to the bathroom. It was a completely debilitation of my brain.

      The only thing I was interested in doing was Google searching for different ways that people had committed suicide or reading stories about how people got killed. I was hoping to receive some kind of “inspirations” from reading their stories, because ironically I was afraid of all the pain and suffering before death. Finally, there was one day, I found a bottle of pills in my mom’s drawer, it was used to treat my insomnia and there were 60 pills inside. I consumed the entire bottle before bed time and lost consciousness after 10 minutes. The next morning, I actually woke up. I was really dizzy. I lost all the strength in my body. My brain was numb by that much dosage. I got sent to the hospital. It turned out that the medication was very mild. It did not do any lasting damage to my body and my brain. I simply stayed in the hospital for three days before being discharged back to the community. I was prescribed with anti-depressants, but after taking it for a week, it appeared to be ineffective. I was still unable to sleep and my symptoms got even worse. So I stopped taking them, which turned out to be a huge mistake, because for any types of psychotropic medications, it would take at least 3 weeks to kick in. I felt like at the time no one gave me any education about my condition, not even the doctors in the hospital. My family doctors were all focusing on the cause of my depression, which was that breakup.

      At the time, I was in grade 12, I had to write my final high school exams in order to graduate. I had no mental capacity to do any reading and studying, thus I knew I would not be able to go to university. That was just another layer of big stress. Many people in my school heard about what happened to me. Prior to my depression, I was a very negative and judgemental person. I really despised people who resorted to suicide. Ironically, that was the exact reaction I received from people in my life. No one understood why I would kill myself for someone whom I dated for only 4 weeks. My parents tried everything to help me or talk me out of my depression. But when I saw that they were down on their knees begging me not to hurt myself, I told them that I hated them because they brought me into this world and I was not supposed to be born in the first place. At that time, I felt like I had lost the ability to love and sympathize. I was devoid of any types of human emotions. I was a psychopath. I even thought about killing my parents because they were protective, they were watching my every move. Now that I hear stories of mentally ill people committing horrible crimes, I can relate to their mentality. They are not born evil. Killing one's self is a really difficult commitment, by killing others, they leave themselves with no choice but to end their life, better yet, the police would do the job for them. Suicide by Cop is definitely real and it's the most legit motive behind every massacre.

      The morning of June 20th, 2003, I got up with a plan to commit suicide, my parents had already done everything they could to prevent things from happening. I tricked my dad by telling him that I wanted to get some fresh air outside. Later on he said that for some reason, his mind was a blur at that moment and he had no idea why he would believe me whole-heartedly. I made an attempt on my life, my dad tried to stop me. Afterwards I was conscious and I remember the exact second when I knew the damage I had done. But I was surprised that I was nowhere near death after what I had done. It was a pure miracle that I didn’t sustain a brain injury or any internal traumas. On my way to the hospital, the ambulance did not even sound its siren.

      Three days later, I was seen by my psychiatrist for the first time. He began to put me on a whole bunch of medications. The amazing thing was, I started to feel sleepy and drowsy after 2 weeks being on these medications. I was able to fall asleep on the third week. As the pattern of my sleep was gradually restored, my symptoms of depression were dramatically improved and by the time I was discharged from the rehab hospital, I realized that my depression was treatable. If I had been medicated in time, I would never have jumped. I asked myself, how would I be able to live with this regret for the rest of my life?

      By the time I was out of rehab, I was already 60 lbs heavier. My mom took me to a barber and got me a really short haircut, I could barely recognize myself in the mirror. Prior to being in a wheelchair, when I saw someone with a disability, I just thought their legs don’t work. But in reality, there are so many other medical complications. A spinal cord injury would also affect a person’s bladder and bowel function, there is also the risk of osteoporosis, blood clots, pressure sore, and what bothered me the most was nerve pain. I had to take strong pain killers at night to fall asleep.

      As expected, for the following four years of my life, I was living in hell. I had no self-esteem and no hope for the future. I was filled with regrets, resentment and hate. I eventually went back to school, but it was really hard being one of the few people with a physical disability. On top of that, I had to face people from my high school, who knew about my past. I was jealous of my classmates who had friends, who were invited to parties. I was just a lonely loser. This time, I had a legit reason to be depressed.

      In 2006, I was once again admitted into a psychiatric facility after not sleeping for 7 days straight. I was hallucinating, delusional and insane while I was in the hospital. After observing my behaviors and symptoms I was then formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When I first got injured in 2003, the doctor thought I had depression, but they didn't know that I was actually manic before my depression (during my 4 weeks romance, I was extremely manic and obsessed). During the three years post injured I was placed on anti-depressant, which was the trigger of my second episode of bipolar disorder.

      I later on learned that, for people with bipolar disorder, we are born up to 20 percent more neurons in our brain compared to an average person, and those neural activities are particularly excitable, which explains why I was always overflowing with mental energy even when I was a child. In 2007, my psychiatrist switched me to a new medication for my condition. It was Lithium Carbonate, a predominate treatment for bipolar patients. This medication was like poison to me. My acnes were so bad that my face was literally disfigured. Kids in public would get scared when they saw my face! I had sores breaking out everywhere. To cope with all my stress, I turned to eating and I was really overweight at that time. I was really depressed to a point where I wanted to give up again. But what really prevented me from ending my life this time was seeing the suffering I had caused on my parents. Also, I had become a Christian at that point. Though my faith was so small, I believed that God would intervene eventually.

      In 2007, my doctor switched me to a medication Epival, it was actually a predominant treatment for Epilepsy. After a month being on Epival, I woke up one day and felt like a completely different person. I was just happier. At first I was confused and I didn’t know why. As I continued to take that medication, my mental health was getting better and better, and for the first time in 22 years, I realized what it was like to be a “normal” human being. The way I experienced my inner state, the experience of being a human, was completely different compared to ever before! That was the major turning point in my life.

      It's been 11 years, I have not had another psychological breakdown since (no matter how tough life gets). More amazingly, my personality changed. I am now a very outgoing and positive person, the quality of my sleep is superb, I don’t have phobias anymore, and my creativities, artistic and musical abilities have also been enhanced. I am able to reach my potential as a human being because of the right medication. My life now is beautiful. Though I have to use a manual wheelchair to get around, I am a very happy and productive person. I love my job, I love speaking to raise awareness about mental health among high school kids. I am so grateful that I am not meant to die on that day and I was given this second chance. I praise God each day for His ultimate salvation.

      I am still taking Epival (500mg) and an anti-psychotic medication called Seroquel (125mg) everyday, unconditionally everyday, most likely for the rest of my life. But I have no problems with it, I do not experience any side effects, aside from the fact that I cannot bear my biological child. If you are going through Bipolar or any other mental illness, here are some insights to keep in mind:

      1) Mental illness is a medical condition, it's an illness with our brain, just like an illness with other organs in our body. In such case, in my opinion, medical intervention, i.e. taking medications, is the only effective treatment. When someone has diabetes or kidney disease, they would not hesitate on taking medications as prescribed, but people with mental illness are so reluctant to take medications and they think that they can just tough it up. It' beyond a person's will power to overcome a mental illness. I believe that most mental illness is a permanent condition which cannot be cured, but can only be treated. I won't be able to maintain my sanity without medications. But I have no problems with that. Just like someone who is born with Type I Diabetes, they need insulin for life. Nothing wrong with that.

      2) It is very hard to find the right type of meds and the right dosage. For me, it didn't happen until 4 years after my injury. and it took another 2 years to figure out the right dosage without giving me side effects. It's a journey that requires patience and working with your psychiatrist. If one type of medication doesn't work, don't lose hope, keep on searching until you find something that does.

      3) in my opinion, people do not need to have a motive to commit suicide or kill someone. This is a big misconception. Their motive is merely the fact that they are medically sick. Others in your life should be more aware of this. Instead of focusing on your external problems, try to treat your mental illness first. When you are mentally healthy you will realize that you are a completely different person when it comes to handling all the affairs in your life. You will do things and say things that are more rational and logical, you will be a more interesting person to hang around with, you will find that being happy and positive is effortless.

      4) improve your overall physical health. Beside taking the right medication, my mental health dramatically improved by the time I lost 40lbs by swimming everyday and eating a healthy diet. If you are a smoker, a drinker or if you don't have a healthy and structural lifestyle, try to quit your bad habits first. If you have a healthier overall body, your mind may clear up at the same time.

      I really hope you can share my post with help others, I am not looking for fame or attentions. I just want to help. Leave me a message if you have any questions.
      Last edited by TiredTina; 26-11-18 at 19:58. Reason: Specifics removed/opinion stated as fact

    2. #2
      Senior Member Poopy Doll's Avatar
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      Nancyxia, to the Forum. Thanks for your story. I am so happy for you that you are doing better.

    3. #3
      Senior Member Poopy Doll's Avatar
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      I never heard before that we have more than the usual brain cells and that's why we think too much. That was very interesting. By now I would think that my brain cells have been killed off with all the drugs that didn't work out.
      Last edited by Poopy Doll; 27-11-18 at 19:48.

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