I Am Mentally Ill

mental-illness-sketch-2I Have Bi-Polar Disorder

This took a long time to live up to and even longer to tell anyone else. I have had it most of my life. In fact, being 50, I missed out on all the ADD and ADHD diagnosis when I was a kid. No, they just labelled as ‘spirited or a handful and treated as a Special child in school. I was very intelligent in school. I would close down or now known as Depression.

As I hated school. I was extremely bored most of the time and felt I was behind the rest of the students in my class. That, in part, was my teachers were telling me how behind I was.

When I would go home I was the complete opposite. I was a happy, energetic, little boy. In fact, most people thought of me as above average intelligence. This confused my parents. I was able to convince them not to go to parent – teacher nights as to keep the areas of my life separate. Got away with that one through public school. Depressed in school and Manic at home – worked well enough. The only glitch is I was miserable for a good part of my life. It was not the perfect set-up.

My parents started to catch on to my loathing of school in grade 4 when I changed schools to one in England for the year. It was too much for me. I could not keep things separate and my whole world came crashing down. Being the Foreign kid from Canada did not help with the teasing and bullying from the other kids. I have very efficient child memory skills, but I remember very little of that year. I remember my Grandfather died so we had to go home a early. A bitter-sweet end to my time in a foreign school.

When we got home I noticed all my friends had changed. This happens if you go away for a year at 9 years old. I am sure I had changed to them. But gone was my life of duplicity and the highs and lows were out. Neither I nor my parents could explain them. The bulling and teasing had followed me. I am sure it was great to get the big weird to cry so easily.

This all continued through to high school; by then I was 12 yrs. old 6 ft. tall and 200 lbs. The bulling ceased.

Now one of the major excuses in life to explain my aberrant behavior was gone. It is hard to explain depression then. So I turned my feelings of depression and manic-anxiety toward school and home. The actions were unfounded but I can still feel that confused anger that welled up inside me; To be honest I was as confused as everyone else by my behavior those days.

The Serotonin was starting to slosh around my brain by then. Teenager, Breaking out in Manic flashes, not medicated. Oh those were fun times.

I pretty much became a rebel after that. I ran away from home hitch hiking across the country (save that for another story). I got a job as a camp councillor at a day camp. Unfortunately, after the kids left in the big yellow busses, out came the alcohol. The parties were fun but I discovered how much fun it was to get drunk.

This is why I quit drinking when I was 17.

The manic spells got worse, it is hard to see them as an illness when you are having so much fun and being so popular. Of course, I did not understand when I would fall into that never-ending dark pit of depression. Then the fun would stop and the friends would go away; Until I would swing back up again.

I got married to my first wife. I was on a super manic phase then,. She had a baby girl, which I immediately fell in love with and was proud to be daddy to her. We also had 2 boys of which were little terrors on their own.

The marriage was up and down, as you could expect. I was still undiagnosed. When I was Up I was ok for the most part. It was the depression and anxiety that got worse. I was then displaying signs of agoraphobia and felt extremely uncomfortable outside the house. This caused a lot of fights between us and caused me to crawl into a ball and cry. We did not make our 3rd anniversary. It was messy and destructive.

When I was in my forties I got married again. This time for Love and companionship we both desired. It was good I was medicated and stable. A devastating thing happened. Just before we were to get married my wife to be was diagnosed with cancer. It was thought to be beatable at first and the trips back and forth to Toronto, for radiation, were getting routine and an adventure. She did not make it to our first anniversary. It was quick and peaceful.

Since, I have been depressed most of the time, and the doctor has tried the whole pharmacy on me. It is hard when life seems so empty; For the time being anyway.

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