I have been living with mental health issues all my life. As a young child, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. However, I only went to therapy for a few short months (more on that later) and in my childhood mind, I thought the end of therapy meant that I was cured.
While there is a lot to this story that I will go into later, I will briefly summarize the rest of my mental health treatment up until now. As a teenager, I developed an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, to be exact. I went from being slightly overweight to being dangerously underweight in a few short years. I was only treated by my pediatrician during this time and all she did was have me come in a few times for checkups. No mental health treatment was given.
The eating disorder pendulum eventually swung and now I have a binge eating disorder rather than full-blown anorexia, but I do still go through periods in which I starve myself. Fast forward to now, my early thirties, and I basically had a breakdown of sorts. I was suicidal, so depressed I couldn’t even get out of bed for days and weeks on end, and had engaged in a wide variety of reckless behaviors including causing myself repeated severe financial problems through overspending.
And finally, I put myself in therapy and found a primary care physician that worked with me to find medications to help me. Of course, I was being treated for my original diagnosis, anxiety and depression, along with some PTSD that we can also discuss another time.
I found treatment difficult, especially at controlling my moods. The anxiety medications seemed to reduce my panic attacks and helped me get some sleep, but the antidepressants had no effect on my depression. So, I took to the internet in search of answers. Through a variety of online self-assessments, I found that I more than likely had bipolar disorder, specifically bipolar II.
My next therapy session, I told my therapist about my continued severe depression and mentioned that I believed I was suffering from bipolar rather than unipolar depression. We went through the diagnostic criteria for the manic side of depression and my therapist agreed that I have bipolar II disorder.
At 32 I finally had a diagnosis, a diagnosis I should have received in adolescence or my early 20’s when my symptoms began to escalate. That is my diagnosis story. I am now aware that I have been living with bipolar II for most (if not all) of my life and I am beginning my journey of understanding.
If you have your own diagnosis story you want to share or have something to say about mine, please feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, I will catch you next time as I continue to learn what it means to live with bipolar II.