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One Person’s Homeopathic Cure Is Another Person’s Useless Bit of Information

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There were moments of mountaintop euphoria. Then, days of unrelenting pain. Times when I felt I was unstoppable and godlike, in control of everything and everyone. And times when it all fell apart around my ears and I was left a dried up husk, failing to understand what had happened to my perfect life. There were stints in the mental hospital. Periods when my husband and I failed to connect, and I feared he would leave me for my erratic behavior and even more erratic affection.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

The diagnosis of bipolar 1 came at the age of 43, after many tests and examinations, and the first thing I felt was relief. Immense relief. For years I had suspected such, and now here was the validation. I wasn’t alone. Maybe there was help.

Following relief, and right at its heels, however, was guilt. Immense guilt. I was a f*ck-up. An unbelievable “nutjob.” This was all in my head, quite literally, and I surely had the ability to talk myself out of it. Many people agreed with that destructive inner voice; a diagnosis of mental illness was simply a reason to study more scripture, pray more fervently and try harder to fight the darkness that consumed.

I listened to those other voices, and for far too long. I fought, and fought harder. Had my brain possessed fingernails, they would have bled at the clawing I did upon the door of sanity. It didn’t matter. Something more was needed.

When I tried to take my own life, the stakes rose even higher. I wept to my husband I don’t want to die; I only want the pain to stop. And though he did not know the pain I was experiencing, he agreed: something more was needed. Something more than the medication that was not working, something more than the Jesus of platitudes and therapy that went nowhere.

If I could go back and speak to that previous self, if I could be the paramedic or the policeman, I would have said, Don’t give up. It takes time. So much more time than you might imagine. Hang in there.

I would have explained that everyone’s brain is different, that what works for one person will not necessarily work for the next, that one person’s homeopathic cure is another person’s useless bit of information. I would have said that there are countless drugs out there and more being developed every day that could help me. That sometimes it’s a combination of these drugs, and that such combinations are almost without end. That there truly are psychiatrists who care and will take time with me to develop a plan of attack that will leave this enemy broken and bleeding, and you feeling better than I ever imagined. I would say that to quit life is not an option.

And then, I would hold myself for a really long time, and let me cry.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

Originally published: March 14, 2016
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