Monday, 14 September 2015

The Two Sides Of Me


Where do I start.... I ask myself this question because my life has been one of ups and downs and twists and turns. I wish it was one on a straight path with a clear purpose and sense of direction but it’s been all the contrary. It’s been a life with goals that appear to be clear but fuzz up and fade as the days and months pass and my mood swings from mania to depression. Yup! I’m bipolar.

 The first time I was told I was bipolar was in 2010 while seeking treatment at my local VA (Veterans Affairs) clinic. As an Iraq war veteran, my mental health state was way out of control and I was showing all the symptoms of PTSD. After several years of trying to deal with it myself, my wife persuaded me to seek for help and I did. After several visits with my psychiatrist, she confirmed that I suffered from severe PTSD but she also told me I suffered from bipolar disorder. I was confused… I didn’t know what PTSD really was and now I also had to figure out what bipolar was and how to deal with it. I was mad, I was sad, I was confused and I was ready to give up and take my life. I wanted to die. I didn’t know how to deal with it all and I thought the best way would be to kill myself and end it all. I made out a plan but thanks to my wife and kids, I backed out and sought the help I needed.

The first year of dealing with my mental illness was tuff. I had an internal struggle of what was real and what wasn’t real. For years I thought that what I was living was normal. I thought everyone lived like me and those who didn’t were wrong or sick. I saw myself as normal and everyone else was broken. But now, I had to accept that I was sick and everyone else was ok. I had to come to terms that my wife was always right and I was the one who was messing things up. I had to realize that all the financial hardships, the evictions, the repossession of our car, the power being shut off, everything was in reality my fault. It was my fault because my mind wasn’t clear and I couldn’t be consistent and I wasn’t dealing with the root of all my problems, my PTSD and my bipolar disorder; and that was hard to handle all at once. During that first year I would quit and start treatment every several weeks. I would walk away and then come back as I continued to accept little by little that I was mentally ill and I had to deal with it. After the first year, the relapses started diminishing and my progress started to shine through. I became more compliant with treatment and I started seeing the results.

I’ve been in treatment for five years now and it’s been a road of many struggles but also success. Every once in a while I feel like giving up and dropping all my medications and I begin missing appointments. I start getting a feeling that I have everything under control and that I don’t need any more treatment. So I start slipping little by little until it becomes clear to everyone that I have relapsed in treatment again. Then the rebuilding process begins again and I start where I left off until I become stable again. When I’m there, I’m able to accomplish things and reach personal goals. I’m able to enjoy my family more and enjoy everything around me. It becomes clear again that I’m better when I’m under treatment than when I’m not and that motivates me to stay the course.
Having a mental illness doesn’t mean the world has ended and life isn’t worth living. Having a mental illness simply means that the path you must walk to achieve happiness is different than everyone else’s. Life doesn’t have to end and fun doesn’t have to disappear. We can continue to be productive and enjoy, laugh and live the life we want. And we can do it! We just have to approach everything in a different way. We must also accept that our path is bumpier than others. We must understand that while we ride our car down the road called life, we might have a flat tire more frequently and that our car is more susceptible to breaking down than most other cars on the road. But when those things happen, we shouldn’t quit or give up. We must pick up, fix up and continue on our journey. We’ve come to far to quit and give up now. 

My life is too long to fit in one page but to short to fit in a thousand. I still have much more to write and much more to accomplish. I will continue to add pages of happiness and sorrows; off anger and regret. But when it all comes to an end, I will be happy with how it ends because I know I did my best and gave it my all to live the life I wanted. Don’t quit and don’t surrender to a life you’re not happy about. Live the life you deserve!

Ishmael I Lebron

Post a comment