“Recovery is something that you have to work on every single day and it’s something that it doesn’t get a day off.” ~ Demi Lovato
I remember it like it was yesterday, the day I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Monday December 16, 2013 (at around 5pm). It was a gloomy day, which I find ironic given that within less than a week I had been through a roller coaster of emotions. I remember, very clearly, crying one minute then being completely fine the next. And when I say minute, I mean it – no exaggeration whatsoever. I would be at work on break eating my food and start crying. Next thing I know I’m happy and okay, like nothing happened. This was not only emotionally draining (obviously), but also mentally and physically exhausting. And it was at that point I knew for certain that I have bi-polar disorder.
Right from the beginning of seeking help for symptoms of possible depression, which, fun fact, I was actually diagnosed with SAD (seasonal affective disorder), as it was winter time when I went to see a doctor, I knew that it was bi-polar disorder. Oddly enough, when I first saw a doctor and was put on an anti-depressant, I wasn’t hesitant to tell my Mum what I had been feeling and that I thought I needed to see a professional. Which is something I never thought I would do – mainly because I was extremely shy growing up and never spoke up for myself.
After about a year of being treated for depression and anxiety, there was a major event that would forever change my life. It was a Monday night and I was sitting at my kitchen table contemplating dropping out of uni because I was completely and utterly stressed. I sat there in front of my computer thinking to myself “I can’t do this” and started to cry. And so I did, I dropped out. I told my Mum and she didn’t take the news all that well – which I get. Irrational and impulsive decision without any explanation given.
I had gone up to my room and took some pills. I told my Mum and forced me to come see her in the other room and called the ambulance. I had refused to go at first, mainly because I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to acknowledge all of the problems I had been facing since I was a little girl. I wanted to just forget it and move on because it was easier that way. But I went to the hospital and that’s where I met with my psychiatrist.
After a year of little to no changes in my mental health, I had finally told my psychiatrist that I thought it could be bi-polar and depression. So he switched my medicine and within a week I had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.
This is where the real work began. I had to face all of my demons; I had to save myself from the hell I had been living in. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. The idea alone scared me. But I did it. My recovery started with me doing things that I had to do to get my life back on track. I had gone to therapy many times to talk about all of my issues, I had changed my diet to make sure I was getting the proper nutrients, and I had to learn to cope with things that gave me any troubles.
Still to this day I practice all of the coping mechanisms that helped me back when I was first diagnosed. Writing being one of the most used one. It’s been my favourite way to express my emotions and become a hobby of mine.
I’m case you didn’t know, I have an eating disorder (bulimia binge-purge type), suffered from self-harm, and bi-polar disorder. None of which stop me from living a normal, happy life. And the same is possible for you.
Alex Newton is a nursing student and mental health advocate. She grew up in a small town and plans on moving to London, England one day and open up her own health practice. She has a cat named Maya who she adopted whilst going through some difficulties. She’s a daughter, sister, and warrior who enjoys a nice cuppa tea.