Neuroscience was my first clue…

action potential

I remember sitting in an introductory neuroscience lecture about mental health disorders when I realized something just did not add up. All the symptoms
of mania and depression seemed eerily familiar. I recalled my battle with waves of depression since a young child. When I was in grade 7 I had my first
major depressive episode (in hindsight) where I would refuse to do anything and could not even watch tv which was a favourite pastime of mine at the time.
I would go to school where I was bullied regularly then return home to lay in bed for the remainder of the day. I would mostly lie in the dark with my new
kitten at the time and I would cry my eyes out until they were severely red and puffy. This was a cycle for awhile until I gradually began to come out of it.

I would continue to have depressive episodes for the rest of my life and would always resort to lying in bed for more time than was actually comfortable.
I would cry about everything and anything, in high school, mostly channeling my anxiety towards the world. In University, however, I would experience depression
as it related to something such as when one of my boyfriends broke up with me and I was falling behind in school. The pressure to catch up and the despair of
having my heart broken yet again led to a serious depression where I would sleep for ridiculous amounts of time. I’d lay in bed for hours crying and
when I felt I had cried enough, I would go out and get wasted to deal with the emotions. This cycle lasted about two months and I lost a few friends who could
not handle seeing me that way.

These depressive episodes are examples I drew on when reading about bipolar disorder in class. At this time, I was not diagnosed but started to have a suspicion
that I should be. I not only related to symptoms of depression but actually identified more with the symptoms of mania. Before being diagnosed and looking at
my past behaviour, I noticed signs of mania like the high energy and lack of sleep. I would go to school all day, then study for hours on end then go out and participate in
whatever extra-curricular activity I was currently engaged in, come home then study for the rest of the night and throughout the night. I would get a maximum of four hours
sleep during this time and did not feel tired for it at all. I would keep this up until I crashed into a depression. I really felt like I had it all and
could do it all.

At the time, I pushed this realization that I may be bipolar to the back of my mind and continued to study like a fiend until I had the worse depressive
episode I had experienced up to date. It followed a summer of working overnight shifts which really messed up my sleep schedule to the point that I was never
really sleeping at all. They also treated me like shit at this job and it was really starting to get to me this summer the question of where my life was headed?
I had been working with a counselor to deal with my depression when I walked in one day saying how I was thinking a lot about killing myself. I was prescribed
anti-depressants for the first time in my life but they made me violently ill and even more suicidal. I remember laying in the bath thinking how easy it would be
to just slit my wrists or drown. I struggled with these thoughts until I ran from the bathtub making sure I would not do anything. I decided to wean off the
antidepressants without medical consult which I never recommend.

The following month I would struggle with my depression and found it impossible to focus on school. This was a huge red flag because I loved school and put all
my time and effort into it. My sister called me and begged me to go home saying she was afraid I was going to do something. I decided to put school on hold and return in a
year. I would ultimately return in a year but would be diagnosed officially with bipolar disorder when I would experience my first ever manic psychotic episode.

Stay Tuned, for more passages from The Secret Diaries of A Manic Depressive Girl.

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