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27 Year Old Bipolar Navy Veteran Seeks Support For Her Education Dream

by Sarah Stephens
(San Antonio, TX, USA)

I am a 27-year-old Navy Veteran. I have been living on my own since I was 16 years old. At 18 years old I took on the responsibility of helping my sister raise her 6-year-old son.

I struggled to get my GED and joined the military at 21. I won the sons of the American Republic Academic excellence award in boot camp, was Honor Valedictorian of Hospital Corps School Great Lakes, IL, and also Valedictorian of Navy School of Health Sciences Surgical Technician program in San Diego, CA.

Due to my illness I live a very reclusive life, alone with no children. I am a singer and songwriter, and play guitar. Like many bipolar people I am very expressive and profound in my thoughts.

I was diagnosed Bipolar in the military after my husband of three months cheated on me with someone of the same sex.

At the time I was in a very difficult training program. I began to have panic attacks, and could not sleep. I experienced horrible migraines, and crying spells.

This was only about 14 months into my military career. I am now a 60% disabled veteran. I was recently also diagnosed adult ADD.

Through all of this I managed to graduate the top of my class every time. Because of my use of Mood stabilizers and anti-depressants I was removed from service.

I had already gotten my orders to Corpus to deploy to Guantanamo for six months. Two weeks before leaving I got my notice of discharge.

I fought tooth and nail to stay in the Navy and support my brothers and sisters in arms with no avail. I realized then that I might never become anything, but a disease to the eyes of those around me.

I stayed in California and got my LVN, all the while dealing with severe depression and anxiety.

The blow of having the military give up on me is still to this day a challenge and continues to ache to the depths of me, and affects my relationships with everyone around me.

I loved the military and had shining reviews, but I had to leave because of an uncontrollable chemical disorder.

Since being diagnosed bipolar the hardest part has been the medications. In the military I was given Lithium, which made me a zombie and very tired all the time.

I could no longer go into crowded places without having severe panic attacks. I was put on an anti-anxiety medication that sent me into a manic episode, and I began expressing sever OCD behavior, and would go for days without sleep.

It has been about four years since my diagnosis and I have been through dozens of medications all of which have sent me all over my bipolar spectrum, and have yet to find the right mix of medications just to feel normal, but we are getting close!

The only thing I am good at is school. I have a 4.0 GPA and over 34 credits. I am on the president's list, and have recently been accepted to University of Incarnate Word, a prestigious private University.

This is all I have in my life and is all I have to look forward to in the future. I cannot have children on this medication, and I avoid relationships because of my rapid mood swings.

I thought that the Hazelwood act would pay for my education after my GI- bill ran out, and as it seems I was wrong.

Because the school is a private University Hazelwood will not cover me, and I only get benefits for time served excluding boot camp, which only adds up to 18 months.

So today here I sit, with my acceptance into a communication arts degree program from an excellent school, and no money to see it through.

A degree from Incarnate Word would help me capitalize on my few talents, and allow me to feel like a normal person, and I cannot pay for it.

Yesterday elated, today destroyed… another bipolar duo.

I have kept a job with a Medical Company for 3 years working part-time. I am quite aware that I am being taking advantage of now bearing the title Director of Operations and only making 1,000 a month.

I have to keep this job because the hours are flexible and I work from home. And if I have a bipolar episode I can re-arrange my schedule.

A communication degree concentration in production would allow me the same flexibility as a freelance music producer.

I can't afford the program, and again another dream lost to bipolar disorder. If I could have stayed in I would have had enough benefits to finish school.

I am looking for any kind of grant, scholarship or assistance that will help me finish my Communications degree at Incarnate Word, and prove to myself and also to the world, that bipolar people are not what everyone thinks they are.

We are kind, deep, tragic, loving people that struggle everyday with emotions we have no reason to feel. This other person inside of me I try to hush so I can live a life of relevance, and joy.


Sarah Stephens

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