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Nicky’s Story

NickiSSTEPPING OUT OF THE DARKNESS: My Battle with Bipolar Disorder

By Nicky S.

In the fifth grade I was diagnosed with Dyslexia, ADD and learning disabilities. For the most part I grew up without trauma. Tests, especially standardized ones, were difficult. Mostly I dealt with normal growing pains. Mean girls in high schools, the prom, and back then (and even now) I couldn’t spell to save my life. Mom and Dad anchored me with tutors and trained professionals to pull me through. I always made it through no matter what challenges I faced.

Things started to change while I was in graduate school in 2008. I was living in my own apartment, working a very difficult and demanding job, long hours, on top of being in graduate school. My supervisor and I did not get along and nothing I did pleased her. It was around November of that year that I started feeling like I needed to update my ADD meds. You don’t always notice when the darkness starts to set in. The lights dim slowly and before you know its pitch black. Bipolar disorder gets worse when it goes untreated.

Sometimes I would feel strange static in my head.  I started to hallucinate. Sometimes I imagined green arrows were coming out of the walls. One night, I screamed nonstop until the police came to the door of my apartment. Occasionally, as I fell asleep, I would feel Satan trying to possess my body. This feeling would go away eventually and then I could sleep. Another day I thought demons were coming through the wall sockets in my living room so I ran around and placed miraculous medals everywhere. One night I sat up in bed and started hissing. Then I vomited on my comforter. Shortly after I came too and washed the comforter in the middle of the night.

The day my parents started to understand my reality, Mom had to come physically remove me from my apartment. While eating lunch, she had to help me order and assist me with eating. She had to nudge my elbow over and over so I would get the food into my mouth instead of staring into space. My mom’s friend was with us and I vaguely remember the shocked look on her face. After lunch, we went to my apartment, packed my clothes and I went home to the house where I grew up. I am still there.

After an EKG, a neurological work over, several doctors’ appointments, a second opinion, one hospitalization, and multiple family meetings, I received a diagnosis of Bi-Polar. I was so relieved to have a label. My body relaxed. A label equals a treatment pattern, I thought to myself.

The first couple of years on meds my emotions were like a yo-yo. One minute I would be fine, the next minute I would be raging or weeping for no reason at all. My most problematic symptom is still hypomanic rapid thoughts. That is fantasy thoughts based in dissolution. I can go blank and get lost in my head. There can be huge deficits in my communication and I have to be asked something three or four times before I hear it. I can take long pauses to respond. At one point, I had to be restrained because I was hysterical and attempting to leave in my car. In five years I have tried 15 different medications and had at least fifty med adjustments. Luckily, I had a positive experience with Ritalin as a child, and therefore was unafraid to choose professional help and take medication.

Five and a half years into my journey I am relieved to say I have made it to a form of recovery. I hold a job in the fast food industry. I am attempting to further my awareness and healing by working with programs like NAMI and DBT classes. I go to as many therapy groups and support groups as possible. I stay active in my church group and I have joined a soccer team. None of this would have been possible without the support of my recovery team.   I have future plans for my recovery. My life is not without goals. Next up is full time employment with health insurance. I aspire to have a home of my own that I pay for without assistance from anyone.   I have learned that the secret to surviving this disorder is keeping hope alive and to be completely involved in your recovery. If you can keep on keeping on, you will be fine. Over time I have become much more patient with myself and allowed myself to make a few more mistakes. This has been the key to my recovery. I am now obstinately hopeful that I will move on with my life.

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