I grew up in a small tight knit community. No one talked about mental illness, and it for sure was never brought up even in the required High School health class.
My symptoms went much farther back then that and I can remember the highs and lows very vividly, and how exhausting they were on both ends of the spectrum. You see I am Bipolar I and there is a physical toll that this disorder can really take on a life if it goes untreated like mine did for so long. It wasn’t until I was in High School that my mood swings got so bad that one teacher my sophomore year told me that I had to go see one of the guidance counselors. She was kind and caring but not what I needed, I needed more in-depth care then she could provide.
I was afraid to tell my parents that I was bouncing off the walls for months at a time and then never wanted to get out of bed for the next couple days that is where the exhaustion came from: trying to hide it all. For a couple of years there was a lull in my extreme swings, it wasn’t until I got to college that they reared their ugly head again leaving me almost completely incapacitated. When I was manic I didn’t care about class when I was depressed and just wanted to stay in bed. Grades plummeted and I lost just about every friend I had. It wasn’t until one of my friends, who was a hall director, actually made an appointment and went with me did I start significant therapy. The therapy was great but I was in a place where I needed even more help to more quickly even out my moods. I started seeing the most kind and caring psychiatrist but again it was trial and error, which left me discouraged. I have through it all had many fights with my insurance companies to get my care covered. I know that when I am having a hard day I just remind myself of where I have been and that I now have a greater understanding of what I need to do for myself and what I can let other people know that I need.