- Mental Health
My name is Cathryn M. I was first diagnosed with Bipolar I in 2009. I was brought up in a single parent home. My father divorced my mom when I was two. As I child, I remember my mother teaching me the importance of different cultures and religions. Mom researched all the fun, educational stuff I could do for free or for just a few dollars. She took me to museums. She exposed me to other cultures and ideas. She even decorated our tiny apartment tastefully, so it felt like a real home. We had no money, but as a child I never once felt deprived.
As a teenager, I was very fortunate to never get involved with drugs or alcohol. I was very timid and shy growing up. As a young person, I founded Global Teen Club International and worked a lot with young people in the United States and abroad. I received many awards and recognitions and often was called a “grassroots ambassador.” My mother often sheltered me from the cruel world and always provided love and support. She was the smartest woman that I knew. People were drawn to my mother. She was a large and beautiful woman. She also had a way of knowing things before they happened. So when I lost my mother, I was hit the hardest. It was hard for me to deal with the fact that she was dead. I did not get a chance to say goodbye. This was when things started going wrong.
At that time, I started attending church regularly in Concord. I remember singing in the choir and I got closer to the pastor’s family. They made me feel like I was part of that church. Maybe I got a little too close, but it was great to be a part of a group. I started reading the Bible a lot and getting really involved on the internet. I was reading things that were basically not true. At that time, I was living on my own. I had my own one bedroom apartment and was working full-time as an office administrator for a software company. I even was doing a lot of extracurricular activities that kept me busy. I rarely slept or ate. I had so much energy, and no one seemed to be able to keep up with me. I pretty much kept to myself. I was a loner and felt like an outcast. I just wanted to be by myself.
Things at my job started going downhill when I wanted to return to college. I enrolled at Diablo Valley College, but it was difficult to take some night classes and work a full-time job. Eventually, my boss agreed to let me leave work early. During this time, I was fixated on President Obama, religion and the internet. I was even calling the White House and the FBI. I was very paranoid and having hallucinations. I thought the world was ending and I brought all this to the workplace. I think I even scared my pastor when I wrote the pastor a long letter about him hurting the congregation. I seriously thought he was. Then on one Friday, I lost it. I emailed my boss and told them how I felt. I was paranoid and felt like people were out to get me. I needed help. I was trying so hard to keep things together but I was slipping away from reality. I was hospitalized shortly after this episode with my company. I really did not feel things were wrong with me. I was confused and did not know why I was being locked up in a mental institution. All I knew was that I had stripped down in public and pulled out all my hair. During the last time I was hospitalized, I realized I had a serious problem. I had a mental illness and I needed to come to terms with the fact I had one.
I am now working with a therapist/case manager. She helps me tremendously, and I am truly blessed to have someone to talk to every other week. I pretty much tell her everything, and it helps. I am also learning to trust again because I have a hard time trusting people. It is also hard for me to deal with people. That is one of the problems that I have to overcome with my illness. It is a struggle every day, and I am still pretty hard on myself.
I am now in recovery. I take medicine and I don’t feel like someone is after me. I finally have stepped back into church again. I have faith, but it is very hard for me to read the Bible. I know I should not be afraid of God’s word, but it is something I will have to deal with in my own timing. I still believe there are many paths to reach God. I have always felt that. I know he is constantly working in my life and he has given me the strength to keep going on. I feel like I have a new life. I have a relationship with my father now. We talk every week on the phone and we are trying to develop our relationship. I have a wonderful best friend named Melissa who listens to me and is a great friend. Everything in my life has changed for the better. I understand my medications. I am at a point now where I will be starting to work out more. All the medicines caused weight gain. But now I am stable, and that is way more important than a dress size. I am proud of myself and know that each day I will become stronger. I am very blessed that I was able to visit my sister and nephews. It was awesome to connect with family, which was something I needed to do. My only regret in life was not being able to see my mother before she passed away. However, I know she is in a wonderful place and I will see her again one day. I believe that.
I am writing this today because I know that there are so many beautiful human beings out there with a mental illness who don’t know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Bipolar lasts forever but it is treatable. If you are on the wrong medications, change them. If you are seeing a doctor who is not helping you, get a different doctor. Keep reaching for sanity because it is there. I promise you.
I never thought I would be where I am today. I am unique. I have character.
I love me. I am a miracle.