“If things had been different, I think I would’ve been a good actor. After all, I put on an act for many years that I was this happy, bubbly girl who handled all her problems herself. I remember sitting in the psychiatrist’s office in the Fall of 2019, finally finding the courage to reach out and seek help for something I had trouble putting into words. It’s always been like that for me. When I went through my traumatic event at twelve years old, I was determined to come out of it strong. I wanted to persevere, and I became obsessed with controlling everything in my life. I bent when my parents found out what happened to me when I was sixteen and sought some help, but a misdiagnosis and near suicide attempt caused me to lose all trust in the system.
As I sat there in that office, I knew I had to fess up. I had to be honest about the drug use I’d participated in for nearly a year of my life. The amount I tried to numb the pain I was in. The way I self-medicated and coped with self-harm, binging and purging, and drugs to try and combat the mood shifts I felt at times. When my son was born and my relationship with my fiancé crumbled, it became apparent that I had to trust health professionals to help me solve what was going on with me.
At 12 years old, the girls in my school were all talking to a boy on the internet. He lived in Texas but dated a girl in my class long distance. Being 12 and naive, I spoke to him, and things escalated to him asking me to take off my clothes on webcam. He took photographs and used them against me for six months until I discovered the truth. He was a 57 year old man using his nephews photos online. I went to the police. My parents found out and I started to heal. This is when I received my first misdiagnosis of anxiety and depression. So I pushed on, choosing to forget what happened but turned to drugs to cope until I was sexually assaulted at 21 by a man I was seeing. I got sober after that, got a real job before having my son and entered therapy. It was after I had my son I truly started to seek answers. I knew for a long time, something was wrong, but he pushed me to get those answers so instead of just forgetting I could forgive them, myself and move forward.
When he walked in, our conversation was short. I explained what I went through when I was twelve. The online predator who sexually exploited me. The man who sexually assaulted me and impregnated me with twins. How I let those twins go and hated myself for a long time. The PTSD diagnosis that came after that. How there was more to the story. There was something wrong. I struggled to talk to him. My mind was always such chaos. I knew there were low periods that hit me twice a year. It was in those times I started documenting. I would realize something was wrong.
I couldn’t be a good actress in those periods.
He asked me if Bipolar Disorder runs in my family. I said it did. He pulled out a diagram of the brain, explaining to me how Bipolar works. When he was finished, he looked up at me and said, ‘Given your family history, drug use, and trauma it wasn’t a matter of if you’d get bipolar, but when. You have Bipolar Type Two and ADHD.’
It made sense. I remember thinking it did, but it was also terrifying. I would need medication for the rest of my life. I would have to tell anyone I dated about this. There was such a stigma attached to bipolar. It also meant I didn’t have the control I thought I had, and I couldn’t accept it. I sought a second opinion of advice from my therapist. The second psychiatrist wasn’t sure of bipolar and ended up changing my medication to an antidepressant to see after a few months.
I flew into hypomania. Hypomania so intense I nearly killed myself two weekends in a row, ending up on the suicide hotline for hours until I was talked down. I felt my destiny had been destroyed. I had messed up my life. Everything was wrong and I was a burden to everyone around me. I broke up with my boyfriend after picking a fight with him and spiraled even further.
Medication stopped completely to establish a baseline. The pandemic hit. My therapies became nonexistent and I was put in a position where I could give up or fight. For a while, I thought about giving up because it was the easier thing to do. It was what I was used to. What I’d been surviving on for years. My son reminded me of why I had started this journey. My boyfriend and I got back together, and he supported me, and I chose to advocate for myself.
I downloaded a mood app and started to track my moods. I documented my thoughts honestly, putting a lock and key on it so I could feel it was a safe space. It was a form of venting as well, helping me through those months of the pandemic I had no one to turn to. It was in that documentation that it became noticeably clear I was indeed bipolar. The antidepressants had made it high, but the tracking showed me shifting between episodes of hypomania and depression.
It also showed a fourth diagnosis and the final piece of my complicated puzzle.
Borderline Personality Disorder. I believe I’m a quiet type, but it has yet to be determined until my next meeting with my psychiatrist in the Fall. This year has been a wild ride and it’s had a lot of scary moments. When I got the final diagnosis, I felt a lot of relief. I was relieved to finally have my answers. After entering the tunnel and stumbling forward blindly through all the twists and turns, unsure how far I had to go and what awaited me on the other side. Until finally, the light began to shine at the end of the tunnel, and I found the motivation to keep going to the end to find my answer and get on the right path to finally recovering and healing after so much time trapped in my emotional pain.
It led me to the anger as I began to finally grieve. After fifteen years, I was finally able to grieve what happened to that little girl. How much it changed me. How she did what she had to do to survive in a brutal and scary reality. I had to accept myself and grieve the loss of the girl I was before everything happened. To feel the anger towards the man that changed my world. To the second man who stole my control from me.
I have begun to accept that my decisions over the years showed I had been letting my mental illnesses control my life for so long. Refusing therapy and medication as a teenager led me to self-medicate with drugs that only added fuel to the fire. I would need medication for the rest of my life, something that still today doesn’t always sit okay with me. Especially not now as I’ve entered the depression phase of my healing process and have many days where I feel engulfed in grief at everything that’s happened over the years. The amount of healing ahead of me as I treat my Borderline Personality Disorder with extensive therapy in the next few years.
During those times, I think about how I’ve been sober for seven years now. How far I’ve come. How I’m going to school to be a Social Worker. I also think of what my CBT therapist told me. She said, ‘It takes so much strength to get through life with an untreated mental illness. It is not a weakness to not want to struggle to live. It is the sign of strength to say you are willing to do what it takes to live a normal life that you deserve to have.’
I like that thought a lot. It often gets me through the hard days. It reminds me all I can do is take this one day at a time. This journey can be frustrating with how long it takes and how many speed bumps I hit along the way, but it does get better.
Even if it’s just a little bit every day.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katelyn Martin. Follow her on Instagram .Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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