The Journey To Bipolar Diagnosis

As a child I remember not being able to control my moods. I would get angry for no apparent reason, I would cry hysterically when I was angry. When in this state I would self harm to try stop the mental pain. I self harmed in secret from an early age, from possibly about 10 years old. I didn’t know how else to control it. I used to sit against a wall and repeatedly smash my head against it. I didn’t want to self harm so that people would know, so I didn’t do anything that would cause me to bleed or need to be hospitalised. The physical pain would stop the mental pain for a while.

People just assumed I was a naughty child but when I got to 13 my mum took me to the Doctors and knew I should have grown out of anything childhood related. I hadn’t. I had gotten worse. When I was angry, I was very fucking angry. When I was happy, I was ecstatic. My sad days were uncontrollable. The strength I had when I was angry was unbelievable, both my brothers used to have to hold me down together to stop me lashing out at myself and others around me. The doctors told my mum I just had anger issues and sent me home with a piece of fucking paper that I had to fill in when in a “mood”. It literally asked questions like “Who is making you angry?” and “Why are you angry?”. Seriously, that made me angry in itself. I didn’t know why I was angry or upset or happy, that was the issue.

I recall going back to the Doctors again when I was a bit older, maybe 14/15 and they then said it wasn’t anger issues it was related to my hormone cycle. It wasn’t, at all. There was no set pattern to it and I could change mood daily, even hourly. I was sent home with no advice, no nothing. Nobody had a clue what was going on but my mood swings were worsening. I started self harming more to control it. I would wrap my school tie around my neck and attach it to the stair banister, I would bring knives to bed with me to slit my throat in the night, I would attempt to suffocate myself but luckily I had such an attentive family that noticed and stopped every single attempt I was going to make at taking my own life.

Me and my family got accustomed to this way of life. It was a wreck but we got used to it. I’d overreact to things and lash out, I’d constantly be angry at life and everyone in it, I’d be depressed and self harming half the time. The other half I was on top of the world and everything was perfect. I honestly don’t know how I got through school. I had an alright attendance record and my behaviour was on point. I got good grades all whilst my life was in turmoil.

Leaving school was when my moods really started affecting my life. I attended 3 different colleges and didn’t complete one. They ranged from 1 week to 1 year and 4 months. This was because I would start the college course on a high and wanting to complete it, then I would settle and stay there. Then I would have a high and decide that isn’t what I wanted to do anymore and I needed to follow another path right there and then. So I’d leave. There’d be no waiting about to think about it, I’d have left within the week. Sometimes the day.

Leaving college was the same. I was in and out of jobs because I’d get a high mood and decide I didn’t want to be there. I’d leave without another job in my sight. I believed everything would just fall in to place. How wrong was i? Nothing ever fell in to place because these high moods made me delusional. I thought this was normal behaviour and I learnt to cope with it. Well to the best of my abilities. I still self harmed a lot, broke things, smashed things and generally overreacted.

Untill 2013 when I took an overdose. I don’t know why I did this. I don’t know if it was a cry for help or I genuinely wanted to die. I was soo drunk, I’d recently quit a job due to the manager being an absolute twat, I’d just fallen out with a friend and I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to be making decisions. Nevermind a life or death situation but I did and I chose death. My mum rushed me to hospital where I was kept an eye on. I had taken an overdose of Tramadol which is an Opiot which you can’t have your stomach pumped for because they work too quickly. I was put on an ECG machine and bloods taken regularly. Obviously I survived, I’m here writing about it today. I never saw the crisis team in hospital as they were too busy. I was asked to discharge myself as they didn’t have the space to keep me. So I discharged myself at 7am without seeing the crisis team and having no follow up appointment.

I went to the doctors by my own choice several days later where they just put me on anti depressants. They didn’t work, they put me on more anti depressants, they didn’t work either. This cycle happened for a year untill they put me on Citalopram and it induced a manic episode within myself, that caused me to be sent to hospital. Where a year after my overdose I actually saw the Mental health crisis team. Who told me to immediately stop the medication and see my Doctor the following morning who they will advise to send me to the Mental Health team. I did what they asked and visited my doctor. He told me “There is nothing wrong with you, you don’t need to see the mental health team” and gave me even more anti depressants. Yet again these didn’t work so I saw another doctor who agreed to send me.

I finally saw a Psychiatrist who told me the same, “nothing is wrong with you” you just have depression. Yet they kept me under their care. After several visits they told me I could possibly have personality traits then Cyclothymia, then I definitely had it. Then I could possibly have Bipolar 2, then I definitely have it. It fits too. It makes sense that I have Bipolar 2. The treatment works and the signs and symptoms describe my life perfectly. This took a decade from my first visit to the Doctors to diagnose.

My advice is, keep going back. If they don’t listen, see someone else. Somebody somewhere will listen to you and you will get help. Don’t leave it years like I did. It isn’t helpful for anyone especially not yourself and those around you.

Do you have an illness? Mental/physical?
How long did it take for your diagnosis?

Jenna Von x

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