All my life, I’ve thought of myself as an optimist. Throughout high school, I have been faced with many situations the average 13-16 year old should not have to go through. Through all the tears, agony, betrayal, and mistrust over the years, I learned. I learned about what kinds of friends I want, and what characteristics to avoid in the future. I learned that dating in high school is overrated and 9/10 times teenage boys are going to break your heart time and time again. I learned that just because you want to be okay, that doesn’t mean that you have to be okay in that moment, and that IS okay.
I’m going to start by telling you a little bit about myself. Lets rewind to middle school, when I had a few friends whom I thought would be around for a lifetime. I had known them since our sixth grade year, and we really had a bond that I thought could never be broken. When eighth grade came around, I started to notice some changes. I didn’t feel as connected to them. I didn’t want to hang out in our social group anymore, and I didn’t feel like I could be silly with them like I used to. Not knowing what the issue was at the time, I began to think I was growing away from them. This caused me to slowly fade into a different friend group, although even with my new friends, things still didn’t feel right as I transitioned into high school. This continued for about another year until the fall of my sophomore year approached and I noticed a dramatic change in myself. As winter rolled around, I noticed my mood plummet more than ever before. I let this go on for a few more weeks before I started having intrusive thoughts and emotions. I decided to talk to my parents about seeking therapy. On December 10th, 2014, I attended my first therapy session, which was when I was diagnosed with depression. It all started to make sense- the distant feelings from my friends, my mood changes, and my tearfulness. I began to see my psychologist regularly and was prescribed an anti-depressant. Time went by, I was in a relationship that felt somewhat healthy at the time, and things finally seemed to be falling into place. In light of this, I wanted to reach out to my old friends. I found myself missing them more than ever, and I wanted to explain to them why I became so distant in hopes of mending the relationships I once had, but it was too late. As if I wasn’t already having a very difficult year, my boyfriend at the time came to my house on New Years Eve, told me he loved me, then preceded to go to a party and cheat on me with one of the best friends from middle school I mentioned earlier. I remember that night and the days preceding it like it was yesterday, and that single memory will change my outlook on relationships forever. It felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and I couldn’t stop crying long enough to breathe. A naïve, younger version of me thought nothing like this would happen again if I got back together with him, and that he was truly sorry, although time and time again he proved me wrong throughout the relationship. I was never able to look at either of them same after that, and it took months for me to feel like things were finally looking upward. 2 years after this situation transpired, I was informed that it was just a rumor. But by then, nothing could take back the amount of pain I had experienced as a result of believing this lie for so long.
As summer rolled around, my relationship became more toxic by the day. When he was gone for months at a time due to drug related issues, I sat at home hopeless and restless. Constantly checking his social media, needing reassurance that he wasn’t cheating on me. I had nightmares on a regular basis and it felt like the pain would never go away. One day, he came home for good; or so I thought. He always wanted to party and do drugs, which really killed our relationship, but this time I was surprisingly on board with it. I began behaving erratically, doing things that are very uncharacteristic of me such as taking pills, drinking, sneaking out, and skipping school. One night, I snuck out with him and was driving in the middle of the night. I was pulled over before I could even make it 100 feet out of the neighborhood, and it turns out I was so far from reality that I didn’t have my headlights turned on. As the officer proceeded to ask us questions, he was suspicious that we were in possession of drugs and asked us to step out of the car. Long story short, my parents ended up having to pick me up from the police station, not knowing that I was gone prior to the phone call they received. They were informed of the situation, and I was sent home for the night. Following that night, I was brought to both a new psychologist and psychiatrist. I was asked a lot of questions and had to explain a lot of things to a person whom was practically a stranger, which all felt very intrusive at the time. The ultimate conclusion was that I was in a manic episode. Since by that time I had shown sides of depression, normal mood, and mania for weeks to months at a time, I was diagnosed with *bipolar disorder and received a prescription for a mood stabilizer. The school was notified and I was asked to stay home for the following few weeks due to the condition I was in. Out of all the people I knew, two people came to visit me to see how I was doing. They brought me flowers, candy, cards, stuffed animals, and more thoughtful things that I had not expected. Much to my surprise, one of those people was not my best friend. The girl who I thought I could rely on, didn’t bother to call or text me asking where I had been for three weeks, or if I was okay. It’s times like that when you realize who truly cares about you. During the time that I was being diagnosed and on the road to recovery, my boyfriend was sent out of state again. This gave me time to think clearly, now that I had finally decided to become sober, which brought me to the conclusion that over the course of the relationship, things had gone significantly downhill. He dragged me down in more ways than one. Between caring about him more than I did about myself and being abused by him in ways he probably has no recollection of, I lost myself. I made the decision to break away from the constant cycle of heartbreak and disappointment to focus on bettering myself. Weeks in, I already felt brand new. I cut and dyed my hair, caught up on the weeks of school I had missed, and started focusing on the future I never thought I would have. Months after the breakup, I was at one of my monthly checkups with my psychologist and mentioned the occurrence of panic attacks, sleeplessness, and anxiety. This brought us to thinking, and it turned out I had developed PTSD from the effects that this toxic relationship had on me. Hyper vigilance, anxiety, mistrust, and fear were ruining my day-to-day life. I spent all summer going to therapy to undergo a treatment created for sufferers of this disorder, and have had a miraculous recovery thanks to my wonderful psychologist, Lori.
Now that I have practically shared my life story with you, I want to explain why I felt the need to share all of this. I have met many people that believe there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I want each and every one of you to know that there is. It is easy to be pessimistic when faced with a bad situation, although looking forward to a solution and finding the silver lining in the troubles you are faced with will bring you a long way in life. When I was diagnosed with depression, I was glad I was diagnosed because at that point in time it would enable me to work towards going through a treatment designed for my disorder that could help me get better. When I was pulled over that night with my ex, it brought it to my parents’ attention that something was not right, which led them to bring me to speak to someone, and that may have ultimately saved my life. Bipolar disorder left undiagnosed/untreated can have fatal outcomes due to the dangerous mindset it causes a person to have. The simple mistake of not turning on my headlights is what caused a chain reaction to lead me to understand my mental illness, choose sobriety, break free from a relationship that caused me hell, and work on my wellbeing. At the time, what I went through over the course of high school was something I would never wish upon anyone. I wanted to die, I saw no hope, and I was at my breaking point. But if you use that last bit of life inside yourself, you can create an optimistic mindset and find the silver lining in every situation. Whether you are having trouble with friends, boys, or struggling with an internal battle, there is a solution to every problem and I am a firm believer in the fact that every thing that happens and every decision you make will lead you to where you’re meant to be.
*Bipolar Disorder is described as “a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks”.
When people hear the term "bipolar disorder", the common misconception is that individuals whom suffer from this disorder are moody, indecisive, and have no self-control. In reality, he/she will undergo a period of depression for weeks to months due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This is followed by a period of normal mood called euthymia for a similar period of time, which succeeds into an elevated/aroused state of consciousness called mania. Most people have an idea of what depression looks like- crying, sadness, isolation, etc. The majority of people seem to think that since mania is on the opposite side of the spectrum, symptoms such as happiness, extroversion, and feeling energetic would be typical of someone suffering from this aspect of the disorder. Indications of mania, despite these false assumptions, are increased arousal, hyperactivity, inflated self-esteem, erratic behavior, and interference with sleeping patterns. During my most recent manic state, I experienced all of these symptoms in the form of excessive spending, irritability, rapid speech, and extreme risk taking. This disorder is treatable with medication and therapy, although there is no cure. If you are suffering from the symptoms of this disorder, I encourage you to seek help from a peer, counselor, or psychologist. Although it may feel impossible to cope, you will be able to overcome anything as long as you search for the silver lining.