My experience with bipolar disorder had two long difficult periods of extreme symptoms separated by many years of only dealing with depression. The following story is about how I decided to go back to treatment after many years away.
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I have recently experienced a mental health burnout.
Normally, when I say that I mean I’m tired of dealing with my own mental health, but not this time. This time I am just jaded regarding the blogging I do.
Memories are maybe our most precious commodity. And I mean that they are a one-time deal; once we lose them we cannot get them back. That is the worst part about memories. But they also ground us, they give us direction by showing us where we have been, they allow us to hold on to things, search for things, identify with things, and desire for things.
And when they go missing, it can be really debilitating.
If someone tells you that you are bad at math, especially if you have had a bad experience in a math class, that idea can percolate in your mind for years and eventually you will dread anything to do with math. You might avoid it so much that it limits your career or education, that it holds you down beyond sensible reason. A lot of people are bad at math, this isn’t uncommon. But to allow the idea that you are bad at math to define your identity to the point where it causes this amount of havoc is obviously senseless.
Everyone I have ever talked to within the mental health community has an acute awareness of the social stigma of their condition. They could jeopardize their career, could lose their friendships, or even have their family torn away from them. We are all aware that people look at us differently, fail to trust us with important tasks, or even skip over us completely.
But stigma affects us in ways we don’t think about very often.
My name is Steve Comer. I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type I, as well as generalized panic disorder, in 2003, at the age of 18 after my first suicide attempt. I am married and have one daughter, with another child on the way. I went to school for Architecture, but I currently work in the robotics industry. I have been hospitalized twice more after suicide attempts, the last time I received Electro-Convulsive Therapy. I try to be a very outspoken proponent of mental healthcare and ending the stigma associated with mental health.
There were a lot of warning signs that I had a mental illness, long before my first diagnosis.
My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was a child.
I would have massive mood swings and extremely violent temper tantrums that often resulted in the destroying of objects or attempts to physically injure someone. This resulted in me going to therapy as a young child. To my knowledge, mental illness was never discussed with my parents, and it was never mentioned to me that I can recall.