October 13, 2014
My name is Laura, I am 20 years old, and I suffer from Bipolar Disorder. Specifically, Bipolar I. I can look back to middle school and high school and see a few seasons and cycles of hypomania and depression, but I got through them without medicine or opening up, somehow. I grew up in a Christian home, but I accepted Christ my junior year of high school, and tried to follow him as closely as I could. I didn’t really fully understand grace or allow him to take the front seat of my life until even recent months. It wasn’t until the end of the summer after my senior year of high school (2012) that everything in my life changed.
That summer, I was dumped by my boyfriend of a little over 2 years. It was devastating at the time, as I genuinely believed we would get married one day. Strangely enough, this event was the catalyst for my first real manic episode, which would turn into a serious psychosis in a few sleepless nights. I was hospitalized for 10 days, but not before I could find a way to publicly humiliate myself first. Psychosis is a state where you have lost all touch of reality. In this state I thought ridiculous things. For example, that my ex boyfriend was proposing to me, my family was being watched, the world was ending, and a whole other host of delusions. I checked into the hospital (where, upon initially seeing me, they thought I was on drugs) 2 days before I was supposed to move in to Clemson University. I had to miss what would have been my first semester of college.
Living with the shame and embarrassment from my own wake I left in my manic episode, I went to Clemson in the Spring of 2013 and carried out the entirety of the semester in a serious, deep depression. I was a recluse. I spent every day with one friend that I truly felt comfortable around (my roommate) and then would on occasion hang out with a few other girls. I gained 30 pounds and it wasn’t all from the cafeteria food. I was on antidepressants but they seemed to be doing anything but work. I napped for sometimes for 4 hours. It is a miracle and I praise God that I survived that semester because I quite literally thought about taking my life every day, multiple times a day, and never told a soul. I would have considered myself agnostic that semester, but didn’t tell anyone that either. The only prayer I prayed for almost 5 months was “God, help my unbelief.”
That following summer I completely overcompensated for suddenly not being depressed, and I went into another full-blown mania that trickled in to another semester I had to withdraw from–Fall 2013. I like talking and taking pictures to begin with, but in this state I would talk to anything that moved and take pictures with people I hardly knew. I started hanging out with this new guy, and in my excitement that I might move on from my first boyfriend I scared the poor boy off entirely. I was irrational, impulsive, extremely moody, and irritable, especially with my family and close friends. I felt an excessive need to talk and I couldn’t stop. If someone stood there for 4 hours and just pretended to slightly listen I think I would have talked their brains out of their heads. Someone later told me that he and his friend didn’t know if I was just really that outgoing, or if there was something wrong with me. I started failing classes that fall. I have always been an A student, so that was why I eventually had to withdraw. I was put back on several medications that brought me back to being myself. But, as anyone taking medicine for mental illness knows, this didn’t go without their horrible side effects.
Spring 2014 was one of my more stable seasons, though I became irritable and depressed again. I would start to realize just how many people I push away during either of my episodes. A few permanently, but dozens who were my friends would suddenly be distant acquaintances. This past summer was the most stable I have been, but I still had a lingering depression.
This fall another manic episode ensued but was caught relatively early by my primary. It began slowly at the end of the summer, but then spiraled out of control after I was date-raped by someone I really trusted. After that event, I overdosed twice in the next two weeks, both on accident, not trying to kill myself, but to ease the pain. The first was on sleep medication that I took originally to go to bed. The second was on my prescribed mood-stabilizers. This would end up being the 3rd Fall semester at Clemson University I would have to withdraw from.
Now, I am at home, stable, finally accepting and dealing with my disorder and trying to heal. Though it is all extremely painful, and I just wish so badly people could understand my disorder and why I do the things I do, I know there is hope and a future there. Though this will be my “thorn in the flesh” for life, I know that God has me in His arms. I have an amazing family, and I have lots of football to watch. I am thankful there are people like Brandon Marshall who make it worlds easier to feel unashamed to share my story of an illness I personally deal with but have been in denial over for the past two years–because it truly is clouded by such a negative stigma. Through all of this, I feel incredibly blessed to be alive.
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.