For years I felt as if I was one enormous burden, a grumpy pest that hung on for sympathy and purposely alienated people.
In 1998, while in hospital, they diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar I. Moods can swing from extremely ‘low’ (depression) to an exhilarating ‘high’ (mania). My disorder was BPII, meaning I still experienced ‘depression’; however, the ‘high’ (mania) is lesser of a degree and therefore named ‘hypomania’.
For a decade, I literally “lived” in and out of hospitals. My wonderful husband stood by me through those turbulent years. Years of endless hospitalizations, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, shock treatments), suicide attempts and a myriad of medications became the norm.
My immediate family (my side) were absent when I needed their support most. Friends? They were supportive at first, regularly visiting me in hospital, but as the years lingered on, friends became scarce. Had this been cancer or heart disease, would they have been more empathic?
I believe it is the stigma attached to mental illness that drives people away.
Are mentally ill people dangerous? No, but some surmise they do! A family member (his side) cut ties with us during the past years of my illness and hospitalizations, assuming I was dangerous and feared for his children. At Christmastime, only my husband’s name appeared on the Christmas card–it excluded my name. We haven’t seen them since 1998.