I can’t even begin to explain to you how my world has changed in the last 3-4 months.
Years- I struggled with chronic suicidal ideation. I had ruminating thoughts of death in my mind that I could not stop, no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t get them to stop. I didn’t want them there. Many times, I acted on them, because that felt like the only way they would go away. And after some sort of nearly devastating act, they would quiet themselves for a while, only to come back and rear their ugly heads again until I couldn’t take it any more and I’d act on these thoughts again. I’d obsess over and over on ways to die, how I would accomplish it. I would often tell my therapist I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t know any other way to get away from what my brain was telling me to do.
It. Was. Terrifying.
I nearly lost my life on more than one occasion. I also struggled with mood fluctuations that could not be controlled or regulated with typical antidepressants. It seemed what I was facing was more than just a “typical” depression diagnosis. This was more than just anxiety. More than a panic attack once in a while.
I have ten psychiatrists under my belt, 100+ days in a mental health hospital, some voluntary, some not voluntary, others being carried away by the sheriff from my own kitchen floor. I have another 28 days in a residential facility for extensive testing in my file as well. I’ve been on over thirty medication combinations that made me feel worse mentally, drugs that made me physically ill, drugs that sedated me, drugs that sent me into euphoria and mania, and some that simply did nothing at all. I went through several rounds of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) that left me with longer term memory loss, temporary amnesia, severe headaches and issues that I could write a book on.
Weight gain; tears; confused and helpless family members who stood by not knowing what to do; small children who said goodbye to mommy as they locked the psych ward doors; friends who did everything in their power to just keep me hanging on a little bit longer.
That was what had become normal every day life and what I feared would become every day of my future. My diagnosis was Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety.
And then one appointment. One Doctor. One man changed it all for me.
Dr. Paul E. Keck Jr. He is the CEO of The Lindner Center of HOPE. After all the psychiatrists and therapists I had seen at LCOH couldn’t seem to regulate what was going on, they sent me to the big guy. And in one appointment, after spending hours with me, reviewing all the testing the other 10 had done, the many appointments and hours I had spent with them, going over years of mood charting, blood work, and more he named it.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Bipolar II Disorder (primarily depressive)
- Eating Disorder NOS
And then, with those diagnoses, we started a new course of medications. Drugs I had not tried before. Within one month, it was all getting better. The chronic, ruminating, obsessive suicidal thoughts were lessening (as were other OCD behaviors that were not life threatening- more like every day nuisances). My mood stabilized. The chronic depressive state lifted to a more stable level. The ups and downs of the Bipolar II disorder evened out and were not nearly as drastic or noticeable.
By three months out, my desire to stay in bed all day had disappeared. My zest for life had returned. I was smiling again. Enjoying life, laughing, I have had the desire to get out of bed in the morning and play with my children and face the day.
I can’t emphasize the importance of an accurate diagnosis when it comes to mental health. The YEARS of inaccurate diagnoses nearly cost me my life because the wrong chemicals in my brain were being treated. Accurate diagnoses save lives, changes lives, increase quality of life and help not only the individual suffering, but also the family and friends.
Stigma surrounds mental health and it shouldn’t. The brain is an organ, too. I have bipolar II disorder. I know that, because I take the meds made to treat that disorder and my quality of life is markedly better than it was for years. I also have OCD… another brain disorder. Medication helps me live a normal life. I’m not a freak. I’m not crazy. If you met me on the street, you’d probably never know. Please seek help and know that you, my friend, are not alone!