In Honor of Mental Health Awareness Month

tumblr_mock2ovc4x1rivzjmo1_400May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I had no idea. I should have known, but I guess with being so busy with all this ballet and writing-related stuff, the world has passed me by. But I’ve been more mood swingy lately, and I’m not sure what’s going. Earlier today I broke down crying because I felt so bad, but now I feel fine–I think. Is all this busyness catching up to this fragile mind, or is Mother Nature about to send me her Gift, even though I don’t think I’m due for this said Gift for another month? I don’t know, but I have a psychiatrist’s appointment next month, so if it continues, I’m just going to try not to let it get to me. I might sleep in later tomorrow. That might help. I might slow down tomorrow too, take a walk on the treadmill–I get to see Man of Steel tomorrow night! Huzzah! But if my mood is about to take a turn for the worst, I don’t want to let it overpower me because I simply can’t because I have this life now, this career I want to develop, and a client who depends on me to whip his manuscript into shape. And I will do it.

But I wanted to write about the breakdown that landed me in my first psychiatric hospital in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. I’ve never talked about it for reasons I can’t even think of, so I might as well finally talk about it.

It probably started some time last summer. My body was giving me grief in ballet. I’d be in so much pain during barre exercises that I couldn’t move anymore. My sleep also became spotty. Some nights I’d fall asleep just fine, and other nights it would take hours. I struggled with unrefreshed sleep already because I’d wake up frequently throughout the night and then go back to sleep, but it happened maybe once or twice a week. Those times sucked because I’d have to pretty much take bed rest due to pain from unrefreshed sleep. Eventually I thought I had gotten my sleeping problem under control, until the fall came, and, out of nowhere, I just couldn’t fall asleep.

I’d lie in bed for hours, unable to get myself tired enough to fall asleep, so I’d sleep like maybe four hours a night, and even then they were four hours of unrefreshed sleep. I finally got fed up and got some Tylenol PM, which did help, but the damage was already beginning. In spite of sleeping well, or seemingly well, I was moody and couldn’t understand why. It was also flare season for my fibromyalgia, so I was in pain everyday, but I couldn’t fight it like I was able to when it first emerged, probably because I realized fibro is forever. About once every week or two weeks, hypomania would claim me, which didn’t make sense to me because I felt so euphoric but my sleep was crap.

I didn’t start becoming suicidal until the crashes from hypomania. I had felt so great then and kept wondering why I couldn’t re-claim that feeling, why I couldn’t simply get over the thick despair choking me. My fibro flares weren’t helping either. I just couldn’t believe that the illness was forever, that I was always going to be in pain, and it didn’t help that I was working a lot while going to school, so the stress just made me a ticking time bomb.

My parents also think the Lyrica I was on at the time may have had something to do with the suicidal feelings, and that could have been it–at first. Lyrica can be used to treat bipolar disorder, so I suppose it’s a possibly it could have had an adverse effect on my mental health. tumblr_mifyjn5H7m1r1gj30o1_500 I was breaking down though. I probably broke down at least three times a week, where I’d cry alone in my room and sometimes cut to stop the pain that made no sense to me.

Eventually my friend found my Tumblr and contacted the guidance counselors, who contacted the dean because they can’t force me to see them since their appointments are scheduled. So I saw the dean of students who was genuinely concerned about my mental health as a person, not just a student. She encouraged me to see the school counselor, even though I was waiting on the referral to see a psychiatrist. She also became my ally, my advocate. So I decided to see a guidance counselor who, because of my suicidal feelings, thought it was best I not be alone for the weekend since my parents were going to visit my brother.

My fiancé stayed with me, and I felt horrible the entire weekend. I seriously considered swallowing a bottle of Unisom sleep gels because I couldn’t take the pain anymore and couldn’t stand waiting to see a psychiatrist. I skipped out on work Sunday not only because my stomach felt horrible but because the stress from this undiagnosed mental illness just debilitated me. It was then that I decided the best thing for me would be hospitalization because it would get me in to see a psychiatrist and would get me started on a proper course of treatment. Plus, it would keep me safe from myself, and I figured it’d be a good place to “detox” from the Lyrica.

But, of course, things were not so simple. The Remeron I was prescribed launched me into a severe manic episode. I should have known something was wrong when I felt immediately better THE NEXT DAY after taking it. So it was probably within a week I went manic, and I was manic for the next two weeks before finally being hospitalized again because the psych appt. the first hospital scheduled me was too far out. But I suppose the good thing about going manic on Remeron was that I received what I’m sure is the right diagnosis because antidepressants don’t make you manic unless you’re predisposed to bipolar disorder, or so it’s believed. Wellbutrin, a med I took a few months ago, also made me manic, but it took longer to do so.

But I’m in therapy now and on meds that I pray aren’t crapping out on me. I’ll just have to really gauge my mood now, which is what sucks about bipolar disorder. It’s often a life-long illness and any change in mood that happens for seemingly no reason makes you alarmed.

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Author:

Also known as The Dancing Writer, she is currently working on The Stars Trilogy, among other works.

7 thoughts on “In Honor of Mental Health Awareness Month

  1. Good luck with your battle. With therapy, support from family and friends and most importantly love, anyone can overcome mental illnesses.

      1. And I’m doing my best to do that as well. Writing probably put me in this okay mood. I just forced myself to do it and got into it, so at least I was still able to be productive with revisions, so it’s not like I wasted today by just lying in bed.

      2. Yeah:) I spend way to many days in bed. I’m trying my hardest now when I’m low to psychically make myself get out of bed and go for walks. It’s really helped me manage my illness.

  2. Amber you are an amazing young lady for sharing this, I have siblings who have battled Bipolar for years and one did not make it. His fight ended as his depression took hold and we lost him. My other sibling fights the fight every day and she is my hero. I am inspired by you and you are a talented creative soul, you just have to know when to stop and rest and give your body time to gather strength. Be KIND to your nervous system. My son has severe anxiety, so I know a bit about the no sleep problem and understand how sensitive his body and mind are to stressful situations. We have days of quietness where we dont go anywhere and he recharges. Thank you for sharing your story it is important because you may reach someone who needs to read about the struggles.

    1. Thanks so much for responding, especially about the anxiety bit. Maybe that’s what I need is just a day to recharge because I suppose I am sensitive to stress too, and that’s all right. So I’ll just relax tomorrow and perhaps I’ll feel better Saturday. I may even feel better tomorrow. Who knows?

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