The stigma that one has prior to the diagnosis haunts you during your struggle to find through the maze. Many years run past as you silently wonder that maybe you’re too sensitive or just an overly passionate personality that struggles a little more than most. Then the dips deepen and the highs teeter and you know. You realize that something is just not right. You see this doctor and that trying to find “The Answer”. You find yourself repeating your story like a criminal seeking exoneration when all you are looking for is that response. That look on someone’s face. Sympathy? Understanding? Who knows? You don’t know. You just want one of them to say…”You have…” Then it happens. One of them. Not one that you can remember at the time, but the one that has an answer. When you hear it the immense flow of the feelings of fighting duality are a flame inside of your head. You hear a title but the words that flood afterwards are numb and muffled. Bi-Polar disorder.

Months pass. Therapy after therapy has been explored. You feel like the test pilot for every medication made. They hurt, they confuse, they make you sleep too much….zombie walking is your description. Then, when your head has filled with instruction, definitions, and endless research they add some more. Oh, AND.. Borderline Personality Disorder with a bought of Agoraphobia and heavy onset of Panic Disorder. Spinning. Now comes the scary stuff. Now you find yourself taking months off of work for a series of Electric Convulsion Therapy sessions. Yup. You’re that bad off. The fear that has entered your life going into that little closet where they do their stuff. They are so fast. Your in. Just enough room for the Therapist, a nurse, the anesthesiologist and you, lying in that bed. They are fast. Thank God they are fast. I cry. Each time I cry before I fall asleep and wake in another part of the hospital and a lovely nurse smiles and hands me an aspirin for the headache.

All this and the stigma. Yes the stigma. From the uninformed, your family and your husband. Then I go to work.

Very few have any idea of the weight of that same stigma when you’re an active duty Police Officer trying to hide.

I am a proud Los Angeles Police Officer who happens to have this disorder. And so I move on as life was before and will be.

4 responses to “Lena”

  1. Lauren L says:

    BEAUTIFULLY written! Thank you for sharing. I have had the same experiences and same feelings, I got chills reading your words.

  2. Michele says:

    Thank you for your service and your bravery in fighting this disease. My husband has been through everything you described. He worked in the hospital field for over forty years and became permanently disabled in 2007. I was constantly upset with him because of his struggles until a new psychiatrist had a long talk with me and told me what a strong person my husband was for hanging in all these years. I studied his illness and learned a lot. He is now my hero. Things aren’t perfect but they are better for both of us because we have each other. Thank you for having the courage to post this.

  3. Charlotte says:

    Thank you for this. Beautifully written. The stigma is difficult. Every single way of connecting, like your contribution of this piece, helps me to feel a little more normal and less isolated. Thank you for sharing and may you have a bit of the relief that you just provided to me.

  4. Kathi says:

    You are very brave. Although my friends and family know, I cannot be myself in my job. The stigma remains and I would not be able to be a teacher. I’m a good one. They wouldn’t want their children with someone who has BiPolar. It is hard to wear a mask to work.

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