I carried the shame of feeling defective for twenty-three years. The summer before my senior year of high school I went manic. I did not know I was burning the candle at both ends, involved in many activities and getting little sleep. The night before I left for San Diego for a cheerleading camp, I did not sleep a wink nor for the entire trip of seven days.
Each day I experienced an increasing amount of energy and was so euphoric about everything. The sky was the limit. The cheerleaders and I did win the spirit award- thanks mainly to my non-stop talking, cheering, and making friends. The day before we flew back home, we toured Knott’s Berry Farm. My experience at the park was frightening, traumatic, and lonely. My thoughts raced and I had difficulty processing them.
As I entered the gate and was stamped, I read the numbers 666. This was the number in Revelation in the Bible which indicated the mark of Satan. I hallucinated, seeing angels in the trees. I gave things away to strangers, threw my contacts away, believing my eyes were healed. Then the euphoria turned to terror, confusion and to utter grief. I believed my mother was an enemy.
When we finally arrived home, my parents drove me to a hospital and the psychiatrist immediately diagnosed me manic depressive or bi-polar. Believing they were trying to poison me, I refused to take my medicine until one of the cheerleaders, whom I looked up to and who was being treated for depression, convinced me to do so.
With the medication and family prayers, I got well in about 3 months. My parents told the cheerleaders not to say anything to protect me from being ridiculed and/or labeled. I did not grieve what I went through but instead was ashamed of my behavior and stuffed my feelings deep inside. I graduated in the top 2% from high school, attended college, joined numerous organizations, and graduated with honors. Pride settled in and I quit taking my medicine on a regular basis. I went slightly manic and was placed on another medicine to help me relax and sleep. I took my medicine religiously after this!
After being on the same medication for 22 years with one of the doctors failing to properly monitor it, I suffered a chronic kidney disorder, diabetes insipidus. This happened when I was planning to marry. When the relationship became more serious I did my best to explain the manic-depression as well as diabetes insipidus, the necessity of medication, and that in order to have a child, I would have to change to a pregnancy- safe medication. Married within a year, I started the change to a baby-safe medicine. During this time, I also began a new and stressful job, but my dreams of being married and the opportunity to have a child had come true.
The pregnancy-safe medication did not control my illness. I suffered a slight episode of mania, had to go on short term disability and felt like I could not communicate with anyone. The only one who understood my thoughts was God. I prayed constantly and read my Bible. My husband would hold me every night as I cried. And my parents assured him I would be well again. He had never seen the frightening reality of a person in a manic state. I finally became well when the doctor gave me the correct level of medicine.
During this time I accepted my illness. Home alone, I spent three to four months with God waiting to get well. Beautiful scriptures I read in my Bible came into my mind as I developed an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. One scripture in particular was Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV version) I never really knew how much He loved me.
I was born with the potential for this illness and beset with it when suffering from sleep deprivation in my late teens. On my healing journey God has taken away my tendency to want to hide my struggle from others and changed how I view myself. I feel blessed to have medicine to correct the chemical imbalance in my brain, blessed with a family and husband and blessed to know my Lord who stood by me and helped me when I couldn’t help myself.
Read more stories of finding faith during struggles with emotional health