21 Year Old Female With Bipolar Disorder Requests Grant For College Money
(Corning, NY, USA)
I am a 21-year-old woman with bipolar II disorder. I also suffer from anxiety. I live with my parents and currently do not have a job, and I feel like my life has been off track and out of my control for a long time.
Up until a year ago, I was going to school full-time, but at the end of my last semester in college I felt myself beginning to lose focus. I felt very tired all the time and sometimes would not get out of bed until 2 pm; only then because I felt I had to.
I lived alone in an apartment while I was going to college and my social anxiety kept me from meeting people and making friends.
I didn't want to admit that I hadn't been putting all the effort I could have into socializing, so I just began to fall out of contact with my old friends.
I wasn't sure what I could tell them about what my life was like anymore, because I saw them getting good grades and moving forward in life while mine were slipping and I felt lazy and unmotivated and unable to focus.
I began to wonder if my attention issues were due to ADD. I had been wondering for a number of years whether I did have it, so I decided to make an appointment with a psychologist for disability testing.
Soon after that, I landed a summer job, but it didn't give many hours and I still felt tired and hardly wanted to work it. It was then that I decided to visit my parents back home.
Once home, the thought of returning to my loneliness made me break down, and my parents and I agreed that I should move home and we should take time to decide where to go from there.
They agreed to a semester off because I was having issues with my major again - I had never been able to decide on anything - but I knew that I couldn't handle the stress of school at all.
Over the summer, my parents put pressure on me to look into colleges. They thought I was lazy and I did too, but the thought of even going online to research a college made me anxious and unable to cope.
They told me where to apply and I filled out the apps, but I still didn't feel comfortable about a major and more importantly I didn't feel that I would be able to handle the stress again.
July and August were when I began drinking to make myself feel better. It worked so well but when I wasn't drinking I wanted to be and I thought about it more often.
By my birthday in October, I was feeling worse than before, and the gravity of the situation hit me on my birthday when at the end of the day, despite it being a great birthday, I found myself thinking about killing myself and how easy it would be. I wondered if I should see a doctor.
2 days later, my mom and I drove to visit a college. We took a tour and I got more anxious and upset, until eventually when we walked back to the car I started crying and told my mom I needed to go to the doctor and get antidepressants. This was news to her, but she didn't stop me.
The next day, I went and got the pills. Over the next few days, my moods became unpredictable.
I was visiting my friends at their college for Halloween and I began to have feelings of intense guilt until I felt suicidal and started crying spontaneously.
I told them what was going on and they were very supportive, but I didn't feel up to doing much still.
After 5 days on that antidepressant, my mind was stuck on death. My mom told me to think of happy things and every time I did, it turned into death.
My dad began working from home because my parents were afraid I was going to commit suicide, and we decided that it must be the antidepressant and I got a different one to take. This one had the same effect in only 3 days.
By that time it was the day of an appointment with a therapist I had scheduled when I began taking the medications.
I talked with her honestly for an hour about my life, my anger issues, my anxiety, history of depression, inability to make decisions and guilt. She said she thought I might be bipolar, which might sound devastating to some, but to me it was a huge relief.
My whole life I had felt these things and they had felt impossible to change. Having a reason was a relief. My parents, as well, I thought, would understand now that my anxiety was real and my lack of motivation wasn't laziness.
It wasn't that simple, though. I couldn't get in with a psychiatrist for 6 weeks and in the meantime I was just as depressed.
We decided emergency care might get me what I needed so I checked myself in to a hospital, but since I wasn't suicidal at that point in time, they couldn't get me in contact with their psychiatrist.
I felt so bad at that point that I began thinking about ways to get myself arrested so I could get mental help. Luckily, my therapist was able to get me in soon with a psychiatrist.
Getting on the new medication wasn't a quick fix. I was prescribed Lamictal, which has a potential side effect of a dangerous rash. To reduce the risk, I had to take small doses and work up to a normal one, all the while dealing with the same emotions.
One of the most jarring realities in my mind of this whole experience occurred in November, when I went to visit my best friend in New York City.
Looking out the window of my bus at night up at the Empire State Building, I felt weird, disconnected, different. I realized that this was the moment I knew I would never make it to my next birthday.
That belief held me for the next 5 months.
It wasn't until February that lithium was added when it was clear I wasn't getting any better. Meanwhile, my performance in my job was slipping as was my attendance and I didn't care about it, either. Mostly I just wanted to die.
By Presidents Day in late February, I had begun to feel a little better. And then I got my hands on a bunch of alcohol and suddenly I was manic, very excitable and having pointless arguments with my family members.
I didn't feel better after the weekend. A week later I didn't, either. I thought I had really gone and done it, messing with medication that had been working. I still don't know if I really was the reason, since my moods cycled so often anyway.
In March it all came to a head. I had just seen my psychiatrist and I said that I felt fine, and then my mood came crashing down again. The creativity was beginning to come out in me though… I spent countless hours drawing and playing the piano and transposing music.
I felt weird and out of touch with reality, like I had for months, but better now because I felt this- this love for what I was doing, even though it was so, so sad on the other end.
We were calling my psychiatrist every day, telling him how I felt, but I couldn't get in touch with him directly and he didn't want to change my medications. So my cousin, a doctor in Philadelphia, got us some clinics we could call for partial treatment or inpatient treatment.
They got us in right away. It was the best step to treating my illness that I had taken. The doctor at the clinic listened to me and changed my medications, and I was forced to confront deep issues that had been hurting me for a long time.
The relief wasn't immediate, but within 2 weeks of leaving the clinic, I began to feel undoubtedly normal.
I had forgotten what it was like to have a conversation without wanting to scream and cry, and to want to do things and get up in the morning. It wasn't easy at all but the medication finally began working.
We've spent thousands this year on my bills. I'm just lucky that I am even allowed to remain on my parents' health insurance, because if I had been kicked off at my age as was the policy before ObamaCare, I would probably be dead because I couldn't have afforded any of this help.
I want to go back to school again, but I need to move near my family. Around my parents I would be in the situation same as before, knowing nobody and being afraid to meet people.
I need to move to a bigger area to have the opportunity to utilize more programs to continue to improve and work on things I need help with still. I can't do those things here and my car is old and I need an apartment and none of it is cheap.
I just want to get on my feet again. I'm looking at out-of-state tuition for a year until I can get my residency and I want to be able to get on with my life rather than have to keep waiting for this or that.
I am thankful for the jobs I can get but I know they aren't helping me move my life forward. I have no skills and I need a degree.
I worked from last July to this April in retail, but my health greatly affected my performance there and led to my eventual resignation from the position. I haven't been able or healthy enough to find work since, but I am currently searching.
I would like a grant so that I can attend school as soon as possible and stop delaying my path.
If I do not get any help financially with this I may have to wait another year to go back and I've had my life on hold for a year already because of my illness, out of my control.