Since this has been so disruptive for me over the past few months, I decided to dedicate some time to my bipolar disorder. It’s not an easy topic for me, especially with the recent hospitalizations and electroconvulsive therapy, but I’d like to share.
If you are sensitive to details about difficult topics such as self harm (cutting) or voices, or anything detailed about mental illness, you might want to skip reading this one.
I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was around 15 or 16. It’s honestly a blur. Before this diagnosis, I had been self harming without my parents’ knowledge; I think it was a mix of many things that led to this. But along with the external factors, I also had some internal ones. There were voices–I didn’t hear them audibly, but they were in my head–that told me I wasn’t enough, that I was a failure in many ways, that I could never be anyone important or who I wanted to become. It was confusing at first, but soon it became normal for me, and became the catalyst for my self harm. I used it as an escape, a release of emotion in a very unhealthy way. I had never thought before that hurting myself could bring about a good feeling, but it did. It became increasingly frequent, and I used anything sharp I could find.
One day, a friend of mine who I trusted deeply asked me if I wanted my parents to find me on the floor very hurt. That’s what really got to me and I realized that I couldn’t do this anymore. I couldn’t do that to my family. The next day I went into my parent’s room and asked my dad if I could stay home from school that day. He asked why, and that’s when I showed him my arm with cuts lined a little over halfway down my arm. That set into motion events that began my journey into clinical experiences.
I started seeing a therapist on a regular basis. I really don’t remember anything we talked about. However, I do remember him telling me that in time, with every patient he’s had that cut, they stopped. I was incredulous because I couldn’t believe that I could ever stop. This had become my normal.
I’m not sure when, but I began to cut on my thighs. No one could see it, and I don’t believe I told anyone. A couple friends saw it without me meaning for them to, and they seemed more than worried. I remember one specific time I was sitting in the car as my friend drove. While I sat, I accidentally pulled my skirt up a little too high and he saw the cuts. He just looked so sad and so pained. He looked at me and told me I didn’t have to do that anymore.
Even though these types of events didn’t stop me from self harming, they stuck out to me and probably led to me getting the help I needed. However, it didn’t take until a deep infected cut for me to tell my parents (again) that I had been hurting myself. This time, my parents took me to the psych ward. At that point I had really become a danger to myself and looking back, I completely agree with this decision. At the time though, I was not happy. Even so, I was a voluntary admission and they didn’t have to put me on a hold. I think I knew I needed the help, even if I didn’t want to fully admit it.
My first hospitalization was interesting to say the least. I didn’t hate it in there, but I didn’t love it either. It was some sort of neutral. My roommates were a couple of sweet girls who I became friends with and I didn’t mind the coloring we did every day. Sometimes they would bring people in to talk with us, but most of the time (from what I remember) we did simple activities and ate our food at the same time each day. I actually became close with a good number of other teenagers. But some not great things: I remember there was this one guy who kept pounding on the wall next to my room. And I remember the lights were constantly on. That was really irritating to me, since we had large windows on our doors. Nurses would check on us and write on their clipboards for what seemed like every ten minutes. But overall, not a terrible experience.
And I believe I’ll stop here for today. I decided to split this post into different parts, mostly because I don’t want to overwhelm both myself and you. Thanks for joining me on this recollection, and I hope it wasn’t too much for anyone who reads this.
Till next time.