Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Descent into Madness - Guest Post by Hope Pepitone

I found a wonderful person who also has Bipolar Disorder. I thought about the story she told me and realized it was a story that needed to be told to everyone. Read carefully so that you don't miss a word. She has something very valuable to say.

If you don’t know what manic is, like I didn’t and so many others don’t, manic or mania is madness, an excitement of sort, sometimes a feeling of euphoria or irritability. When you are manic, you could go days without sleep…. and then the qualm hits.

Let’s begin with my childhood.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been the sullen little girl who wasn’t allowed to “feel” my feelings. I grew up in a room for most of my adolescence, into which first started my inner beast, as I like to call it. I was the youngest sibling, and the rebellious young sprout that never seemed to get it together. My brother was always the cherished son who could do no wrong. He was praised, like some kind of little god. My mother had no problem bonding to his problems. But the teen that was forced to an empty room had no coping skills or support. My father was always working and when he wasn’t, he was off having an affair with a Russian stripper, which drove my mother to resent him and I think me as well.

I was exhausted by age 16.

I was, in my mind anyway, a blooming rose that was destined to die. Day in and day out, I would sit in the four-wall room, crying, starring, and wishing I were dead. So, inevitably that led to me dropping out of high school and pursuing a life shackled to my bed, so to speak. I didn’t eat. I didn’t talk to friends. I just cried, and slept. And when I say I slept, I would sleep for days. You would think someone would notice his or her own flesh and blood was not right, but again, no.

Now, lets move onto the crux that to this very day still scares me to death. My mother was a very perplexed individual. She would razz my insides straight down to the core and abash my heart, body, and life with no remorse at all. She was extremely abusive.

One strike from her hand upon my frail body forced me to resent everything within me.

I can remember her hitting me so bad that her hand had become deformed from the abuse. And do you think I was to blame? I would say you’re absolutely correct. Not one, “I’m sorry.” I lived scurrilously for years with no way out but to take it and bury it.

When I was 18, I met my first boyfriend, who was also abusive, but I needed someone to love me so badly that I would do anything and be with anyone who would even pay attention to me. To be brief, that ended badly, but I got a wonderful son out of that chaos. I would say it has been an abash form of unscrupulous events that was simply out of my control.

Flash forward to age 21. Most young adults would be out drinking and living what seems a normal functioning life. I couldn’t indulge in that. I had a child to worry about. Around three months old, during a feeding with my newborn child, I watched my mom die right in front of me. It wasn’t just insurmountable, even though the abuse weighed on me like a black cloud. I was hurting, yet again.

The pain didn’t stop there and I’m not sure if it ever will. But only a month after my mom’s death, my father met someone and they quickly moved into our house where I had lived for years. How could this be?

The abuse continued.

The crying continued.

That was when I was first hospitalized, at the age of 23. When I saw the psychiatrist, he simply pushed it off too: circumstantial depression and sent me on my merry way.

The cycles continued. And when I mean cycles, I jumped, literally from job to job, like it was my job to not have a job. If that makes sense. For some reason, I just couldn’t focus or function, like a “normal” person would…especially since, I was indeed, a single parent.

But I had no ambition, no motivation to get out of bed. I would lie there for days, crying, and I didn’t know why. I couldn’t help this beast that was inside of me rearing its ugly head.

Not only could I not hold a job, but I would move from one place to another within a three to six month period. I would find a guy, then my craziness would show, and we would break up. Again, the recurring cycle was swallowing me whole and I had no hope.

The interim seemed so despairing that I just wanted it to all end. I wasn’t sure if it was my life I wanted to end, or just the pain. I was elapsing into a despair that I just simply could not control! This accelerated sadness lasted until my adult life, and still with the same prognosis.

I was still losing jobs, still moving…etc. The qualm weighed so heavy on me, like a thrashing manic person. When you get to this point of utter despair, the anxiety is so rich with suicide that it bedaubs all over your life. You in fact are in darkness and the darkness is winning.

Years later, after my first hospitalization, I had a sort of epiphany, or a cry for help, whatever you want to call it. I was twenty-eight, the second time I went into this sort of bedlam, as I like to call it. I finally had the courage after all the years of torment. A connote of subconscious meaning took over my soul, whether it was bad or not. It still was a feeling of, “I need help!”

So, I checked myself into another psych ward, for trying to kill myself, waiting nine long hours to see, “The Great and Powerful Oz,” and you know what? When I saw him, I finally got the answer to why I was the way I was. Instead of all the guilt my family put on me and all the shame I felt for disappearing into a sense of instability, he muttered the following words: “well, you are Bipolar!”

My world turned upside down, and it all started to make sense. All the losing and quitting jobs after three months of working, then slipping into a deep depression, where I literally could not force myself to erect from that sweet, sweet bed. Finally, I felt relieved. The doctor prescribed a mood stabilizer, called Lamictal. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I’ve only been on it for a week, so we shall see what the future brings.

Once I got the diagnosis, like I said, I felt relieved. That slowly passed. The very next day, I couldn’t sleep. I was up for four days, until I saw my psychologist, who told me I was “manic.” Manic? I thought, ‘what the hell is manic?’ I know depression all too well, but this manic part… huh?

He briefly explained that my garrulous speech and my erratic behavior for the past ten years were signs of mania and depression. Hence, the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. I was so adept in this depression for years that now, I have a mental illness! I guess the consequent of my sordid life was actually making sense, whether I liked it or not.

In conclusion, I am taking my medications and am trying to reintegrate my life. I’m not sure if I ever will, but that is my issue, you know, being newly diagnosed and all. I start therapy in two weeks and am trying to be hopeful. I am still manic. If you don’t know what manic is, like I didn’t and so many others don’t: manic or mania is, madness, an excitement of sort, sometimes a feeling of euphoria or irritability. When you are manic, you could go days without sleep…. and then the qualm hits.

For me, I sink into a deep depression, that like, I said earlier… I can’t avoid. Even with having a son, and being a single mother. NONE of that matters!! It’s a mental illness: it’s in your brain. You physically/emotionally cannot help it! The feelings are as tangible as a hug or as a knife coursing your wrist.

BUT, there is hope!

I struggle with this everyday, and probably will the rest of my life. Bipolar doesn’t just go away, but the medications and therapy can make a person live a more stable, joyous, productive life! This is why therapy and taking your medication is so incredibly important.

Please do not wait like I did to get help. I could have saved my family and myself a lot of heartache. So, the reason I decided to write this was not to wallow in my own self-pity, or have people feel sorry for me. I want the stigma against mental illness to be erased, even though it’s a fight.

I’m ready for it, and I hope you are as well.

There are so many Americans who don’t realize mental illness is an actual illness. A disease. Just like diabetes or Cancer. For those diseases you would have to take medication and go to treatment.

Just because the illness isn’t visible doesn’t mean it’s not real!

It’s living and breathing inside your mind and sadly more people need to be aware of this! If my story touched at least one person, I will be happy. It only takes one person to stop this roller coaster ride and get on with life!

A happy, fulfilling life! Bipolar disorder is not something I take lightly, and I know they’re others out there. Afraid to get help, afraid to take their medications. But I promise you, if you start this journey, you’re not alone! Thousands of Americans are dying because of this. Please do not be this lonely individual. Get the help you need, look for the warning signs, and finally start living! Thank you for reading this.


Hope Pepitone
A 28yr old single parent with no family support at all. I was diagnosed with Bipolar in April of 2013 and for the previous ten years it ruined my life because of a misdiagnosis.

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