Behind Closed Doors
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Health and Wellness

Behind Closed Doors

My story of mental illness in college.

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Behind Closed Doors

In high school I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorder. After months and months of dealing with extreme bouts of mania and depression and not feeling “quite right” and eventually a trip to the hospital, I found out exactly what was going on. Bipolar disorder, in the easiest terms, is a disorder in which those affected cycle between bouts of major depression and manic highs. For months I didn’t know what was going on; I would experience highs that lasted weeks and within two day’s I would drop into a depression that made me suicidal. When I finally got diagnosed, I had a feeling of relief. Something was wrong with me, but it could be treated.

For the first two years I worked on finding the right medicine. With my disorder it was always a struggle of finding the perfect combination of mood stabilizers and anti-depressants. The hard part was understanding what it meant to have Bipolar disorder. I was going to have to deal with this chronic disorder for the rest of my life. I needed to find a medicine that kept me active and didn’t let me get into that foggy state of mind while also calming my mind and keeping me from getting in the manic states that plagued me the most. Once I found the right fit, I was 18 and it had been two years since I felt like myself. I could breathe again.

When I left for college, I had finally adjusted to my medicine and my diagnosis. My biggest fear wasn’t about making friends, or how to get around Pittsburgh, but how I would deal with the stress of it all. Even thinking about it made my head spin, and I could feel myself getting off track.

The craze of school, along with adjusting to a new scheduled made it hard for me to find time to cope with it all. I felt isolated. I felt like I was the only one going through such a serious mental illness. Treating my bipolar meant finding time to meditate, to find a counselor to talk to, keeping organized so that I didn’t stress, and most importantly finding a way to manage the college partying life I desperately wanted to have with an addictive tendency. To me, there was no person I knew who I could relate to. I felt isolated and alone.

In high school I expected the typical teenage angst and bouts of depression, but in college I had this idea that put everyone in a bubble. I believed that everyone had gotten over whatever they dealt with in high school and that I was the only one who was dealing with it.

After my first two weeks of school I had made friends and started to adjust. I felt comfortable and I made the conscious decision to stop taking my medicine. At this point I felt that my medicine wasn’t working, that I was just taking it to suppress who I really was. The first few weeks felt normal and I even felt better than ever. My mind was clear and I felt more alive than ever. I could feel everything and anything. I felt powerful.

Little did I know that what I was feeling wasn’t joy and bliss, but mania creeping back into my life. Soon I felt the weight of everything; the stress and pressure of balancing class and my social life hit me like a ton of bricks. My mind would race and every emotion I felt went right to my head. My head swelled with emotion. Imagine having all of the stress and emotion of a normal week being pushed into your mind and having feel it all at once but having no escape from it.

I couldn’t deal with it all so I retreated mentally but not physically. In fact, I reached the point of mania where I was craving a high. Every night was an extreme. I was going out and binge drinking constantly. Everything I did, I did to the edge. I refused to hold back. I didn’t know it then but I was at my breaking point. It took me losing track of days and blacking out for hours to realize I needed help. I was so entangled in the cycle of mania that I was walking around like a zombie. I woke up one Friday morning not able to remember the week that has just passed. I lost track of time and was at the point of dissociation. I was going to class and having conversations with people totally unaware of what was happening around me. That out of body experience was what tipped me to the breaking point and cause me to seek help from my school’s counseling services. I finally got the help I desperately needed.

I wish when I came to college that I realized that mental illness didn’t equate to weakness; that I had a support system and that I wasn’t the only one dealing with an invisible disorder. After I discovered the resources that my school offered, things skyrocketed from there. I started talking about mental illnesses with the people around me and they shared their stories with me. I felt connected, and more than anything, I felt strong after it all.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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