By Jim B, NAMI Kokomo
My earliest memory of depression was before kindergarten. I remember telling my parents about how things weren’t good anymore. That I remembered being happy but wasn’t anymore. I was taken to a child psychologist. When we got there, I asked my mother why the windows were frosted. She said, “Jim, some people don’t want to be seen at this kind of doctor.”
We only went twice. First my mother and I, then a family session. When the doctor asked why my father wasn’t there, my mother said, “He doesn’t believe in this sort of thing.”
Depression came and went all the way through high school. I first planned suicide while in junior high. I don’t remember why I didn’t go through with it, but I’m glad I didn’t. Because of the trip to the child psychiatrist, the depression, and my plans of suicide, I felt like I was the broken member of the family.
When I got to college, the first mania hit. Suddenly I was happy and productive. I had great grades, time to work part-time, and time to build a custom car and to cruise it on the south side of Indianapolis. I just didn’t sleep.
[I remember thinking, “Is this how life is for other people? I’m actually happy.” Since then I’ve learned that it was not an ordinary happy state. But since recovery, I’ve had many happy days].
After that mania, I was up and down while I married my first wife, worked at a large automaker and adopted a son. During this time, I attempted suicide and was interrupted. The man who interrupted me never learned what he had prevented.
During this period, I was going through periods of anger that I didn’t seem to be able to stop. Again, I felt like there was something wrong with me, perhaps a character flaw.
Then one day while I was going through a rough period. A friend at work and my boss told me that I needed to go to the Community Mental Health Center for an evaluation. I didn’t want to do this, but I had known someone who had refused to go when his boss asked him to be evaluated. He got fired from his company. I didn’t want to be fired, so I went.
When I went there, they diagnosed me with major depression. They were wrong. The antidepressant they gave me made me manic. The worst mania in my life. This led to a diagnosis of bipolar.
We tweaked the meds for several years with some success. Then, two years after I was diagnosed, I suddenly became delusional. I thought that I was a prophet. I was surprised that no one was interested in what I had to say. When this delusion faded, I was suicidal.
The same friend who had helped me in the past found me while I was planning suicide. I wound up in the hospital for this. They said that I was in a mixed state. When I got out of the hospital, I was not warmly welcomed back at my company. My first wife didn’t exactly welcome me either. The verbal and emotional abuse got worse. I left her and moved back in with my parents at 40 years old. I had left the hospital in a mania, and it tapered off over almost a year. I’m still embarrassed by the things I did and said during this period.
I divorced my first wife. After a while, I met someone who would be my second wife. I met her at a NAMI support group. They say that two people who have bipolar should never marry. However, it’s worked for us. We’re on our 12th year and doing fine.
Both of us have been very active in NAMI for years now.
During this time, we became foster parents and helped raise over 35 kids, and adopted 6 of them. They have all grown up and we have 10 grandkids.
Life is going well now and I hope and plan that it will continue that way.
If you suffer from a mental health issue that you feel is not properly understood or portrayed, and would like to contribute further to the blog, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org #iamstigmafree