Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if I stopped taking all of my medicines. Who is the me beneath all of this ‘help.’ Would I be the same me, but unable to handle certain situations? Would I have more creativity? Or would I lay in bed all day with a blanket over my head. Would I do drastic things? Would I hurt myself? Would I make bad decisions? I don't know. I remember being happy before, but it was such a long time ago.
I've been on one medication or another since I was in my early 20s. I had my first breakdown when I was 21 and working in a very stressful job. Up until then I had had a job since I was 15, and before that I had babysat. I got my homework done at school, I had a very high grade point average. I was in choir, show choir, and vocal jazz. I was in plays. I went to bible study. But I realize that even in high school I wasn't the smartest. I didn't make decisions that were in my own best interest. I talked to people on the internet that I had absolutely no business talking to. I met people that I should never have met. Were these early signs that I was bipolar?
I had my second, serious mental breakdown when I was 24. The stress of the job became too much. I couldn't handle my boss who was intimidating, who liked to throw things at employees and make loud noises just to see the employees jump. I was ridiculed on a regular basis, and told that my now husband (then boyfriend) wasn't worth it, that I could do better, and that he was suspicious because of his job history. Yes. My boss, the owner of the company told me all of this. He also told me I would never make as much money as him because I wasn't him and gave me a nickel raise. I was to the point of almost vomiting before work everyday. Shaking on my way there and just keeping my head down as much as possible until I could go home. At the end I was going to school part time, working full time, and working another part-time job (so I could quite the full time stress job). One day I just fell asleep while I was tying my shows. My boyfriend called me in sick to work and put me back to bed. I never went back to that job. I still get the shakes when I pass the building and I haven't worked there in over 10 years.
My part-time job didn't last either. I was working in a call center and couldn't handle the stress of upselling products to people I knew probably couldn't afford them. I was moved to customer service, which was worse, because I dealt with unhappy customers and THEN tried to sell them something. To be fair, the company tried to help me, tried to figure something out where I could work, but it didn't work out. My long-time friend was kind enough to give me a part-time job at his comic book store (even though they didn't need another employee).
I worked there for the next four years and it was some of the happiest times that I've had. Working with friends, making new friends, looking forward to seeing customers. I was in a good place. I played poker on Saturday afternoons. Board games on Friday nights, movies on Tuesdays, and knitting on Thursdays. I was married and soon to graduate from college with a degree I had always wanted. Life was great. I got pregnant with our first (and only) child and was very excited. Even after having to be on bedrest and giving an early birth I was fine. I was depressed sometimes, being taken away from my very social previous life, but I was happy our son was healthy and happy. I still am! I was strong through it all. Through our move, a new job, new town, new friends. I made it quite a while. Until I couldn't.
Sometimes I wonder how long it will be until I hit the couldn't moment again. I hope never. I hope I'm always able to handle things, even if it is with medication. If I can't, I know I have people around me that are there to help. And that is a good feeling.