I remember the first time I was depressed. I was nine years old. It lasted about six months. I was so sad and lethargic. I really had a hard time concentrating in school. I stopped bathing until my mother yelled at me about it. She thought I was being lazy and rebellious. Teachers thought the same thing. It was really hard because I didn't know what was going on. I really wish my mother would have taken me to the doctor but she couldn't afford it then. She was on food stamps and welfare. It was really hard. I just remember feeling so weird like something came over me. Then it went away.
The next time I was depressed was when I was fifteen. I remember feeling so down. I didn't wash or brush my teeth. I just felt so down. School was hard. It was hard concentrating. My handwriting was bad. I couldn't understand math or science class. I felt so down and sad. I couldn't get myself out of bed. I nearly flunked out of High School. My mother ,again, didn't notice anything. I don't remember if I told her about my grades. She just didn't notice. My sister eloped and moved away. My other sister was showing signs of severe mental illness. My mother was engrossed in these issues and didn't notice what was going on with me. I was not making a connection between my sister's mental illness and my own. I didn't realize we were suffering from the same illness. For years I thought my sister suffered from schizophenia. I didn't realize until years later that she was Bipolar. My depression lasted about eighteen months then it went away.
The next time I was depressed was in 1989 while I was a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I missed classes and didn't go to finals. I was very depressed and sad. I couldn't stay awake in my classes even though I had plenty of sleep. I couldn't concentrate. I eventually became suicidal. When this happened I saw a counselor but she wasn't very helpful. I had a hypomanic episode between bouts of depression and tried to fix my academic standing. I was about to lose my student loan. I did o.k. for a while but I got depressed and suicidal again. I dropped out of school in 1991. I was really depressed for a while. I moved into my own apartment and tried to hold a job. It was really hard. I had a difficult time keeping a job. I would get depressed and quite the job I had.
I went to a doctor who diagnosed me with hypothyroid. He prescribed synthroid. I continually got depressed. I became suicidal and set fire to my apartment. I survived but the apartment was destroyed and the building had smoke damage. I was jailed for arson. After two weeks in jail I was let out and prescribed Prozac. I took that for a week and went to the Mental Health Coporation of Denver. They prescribed Disipramine which is and anti-depressant. I had a manic episode which was triggered by the anti-depressant. After that I was prescribed Lithium. I took Lithium for about five years. I did pretty well on it but I couldn't tolerate caffeine for some reason.
I have had only three manic episodes in my life. Most of the time I am combatting severe depressive episodes. I have also had bouts of hypomania which is a manic episode without the delusions of a full-blown episode. My episodes of depression can last a long time. I have had bouts of depression last from six months to three years. It's really hard to stay alive while depressed. I have had bouts of suicidal tendencies more times than I care to remember. Anxiety is a companion to depression. I have had a couple of panic attacks that were very unpleasant.
I think having Bipolar I is harder than being manic most of the time. People like me when I a manic or hypomanic. I am out of myself and joyful and I have more personality. When I am depressed I am very introverted to the point that some people take my lack of social behaviour personaly. I do not try to insult someone but I can offend someone when I am depressed and don't act social. I don't react to social stimili the way a normal person would. I frown alot and I don't talk or respond to conversation. People get the impression that I am angry with them for some reason. I used to get grief when I went to work depressed because I wasn't smiling or responding to people's social cues.
I feel like I need people to understand that when I am depressed it's really hard to do anything productive like keep a job. When I'm depressed I'm walking through a cloud of molasses where everything is hard. Medication helps but it doesn't erase this feeling. I worked hard at keeping my job because it was important to me. I wanted to stay off of disability and take care of myself. When I got married I felt the pressure even more.It takes ten times the effort of a depressed person to function in society. It's very hard work to keep a job and stay out of the hospital. I was devestated when I no longer could keep a full time job. I felt like a burden and a failure. Each time I was denied disability I was so angry because I knew I couldn't work. I tried to prove it with a lawyer the third time but I was denied for the third time. That made me so angry and discouraged. I am still smarting from that decision in a lot of ways.
Some days it takes effort for me just to get out of bed and get dressed. Then I have to stay alive all day. The desire to commit suicide is strong on some days. What motivates me to stay alive is that fact that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I would affect my family and my husband in a deep way if I ended it. I would not be there to comfort them and keep them from hurting over my death. I keep thinking these things so that I don't give in to the tempation.
I also make a pact with myself that no matter how bad things got I would stay alive and deal with life. That has saved my life numerous times.
It's really hard to stay positive when you are depressed most of the time. I am always feeling like something bad is going to happen to me in life. Anxiety is always there to pepper my thoughts. I dread the day so I am a grumpy person in the morning. I'd rather sleep through the morning so I don't have to face the day too soon. I find it difficult to enjoy things in life. I feel flatlined emotionally because of the medication I am on (Lithium).
It's been difficult maintaining a marriage with all this. I have a hard time communicating with my husband because I am depressed most of the time. Having any kind of sex drive is also difficult. That is a side effect of my medication and depression.When I feel better I make an effort to be there for my husband but it is difficult. My efforts , while monumental to me, are sometimes not noticed by my husband. This creates a feeling of not being appreciated. I don't know how to eradicate this feeling but I am trying.
Depression has taken so much out of me and from me. I couldn't finish school, I now cannot work, I don't enjoy life or feel happy most days. It's a hard way to live and I know from experience that it improves for a little while and then returns to a pessimistic existence.
It takes a huge amount of strength for me to continue to exist. I don't like going to the hospital especially since I am not covered by my health insurance for Bipolar Disorder.I try to enjoy life but it is difficult. Sometimes I am tempted to go off my medication so I can have a manic or hypomanic episode just to feel better for a short while. I cannot risk the consequences of going off my medication. It's a thought I have, though.