Back twenty years ago, I was in nursing school and traveling about an hour and a half each way from New Hampshire to Boston, Mass for my classes. Life was stressful at that time and my Mom was a main supporter helping with the children before and after school. My mood and prayers for minute by minute relief were relentless. This was the time that I went to a new psychiatrist and was diagnosed with what was called, “Manic Depression”. Of course the new name is Bipolar.
I have written about my first breakdown at the age of twenty-one in another story entitled, “My Break in Reality”. Therefore the time of diagnosis took almost five years from my psychotic breakdown. My psychiatrist from the time of my mental breakdown, when asking him why I had lost reality, he would say, “I might grow out of it”. I never quite understood that answer.
Upon diagnosis, there was relief in knowing that I now had a reason for my emotional up and downs, but there was also a sense of fear because of the stigma associated with a mental illness. I was now in Nursing School to get a Registered Nurse Diploma, so I had to keep up the portrayal of a clear, level-headed professional. Yeah, right!
The road that I had in front of me and the stumbles that would be endured along the way were incomprehensible. My husband reminded me that keeping up the charade and hiding who I was, was still being represented when we met well over a decade later. To hide who I was in fear of negative consequences for all of those years was ridiculous, though maintained. The stigma remains though it may have decreased somewhat.
I was told that I had to make the decision to start medications that would need to be taken for the rest of my life, and this decision was considered for sometime. Though ultimately to help with the dramatic ups and downs, this is what was needed to be done. I suppose the possibility of a severe stressful moment causing loss of reality could once again happen, and medications would help to prevent this and stabilize my moods. Also with my racing mind, there was continuous loss of sleep which magnified the problem. I was questioning if whether the choice of my career and taking medications for a mental illness was a bad mix. Though, this thought should have been disputed by a psychiatrist or therapist, at that time. Having another blow to self-esteem was definitely not needed.
2/6/95 Journal Excerpt
“It’s impossible to figure it out. All I know is that I’m doing the best that I can. I don’t think, at this time, I could do any better than what I’m doing – except of course to sleep better. I want to sleep more, but there is ALWAYS something more to do! Be an adult – not stupid! Make the right choices! Don’t be childish – Be and adult! Keep on keeping on (cliche’). I can do it, I will do it, and I’ll do it to the best of my ability!”
The battle always simmered inside, and the struggle of living and raising children while in an often hostile environment and keeping calm on the outside was a terrible fight. I had no emotional support from my ex-husband, therefore most of my dependence was on myself and the help of my parents. I was twenty-five and the children were ten, eight, and six.
Though I had a questioning, struggling mind, I won that battle. The children were kept safe and loved. The home was kept clean and maintained. And I got my Registered Nurse license and was honored with the Highest Scholastic Achievement Award in my class, as well as an award for compassionate care. And I worked as a nurse for many years until the fight with Anxiety, Bipolar, and PTSD became too much.
As my mother would say, “You can do anything you set your mind on, Kelsy.” And of course, she was right.
God is Good.