What if you always knew you were special…and then one day you found that being “special” wasn’t a good thing? In fact, it was very, very bad.
I was a high school cross-country track star on a full-ride scholarship to the college of my choice when I was hit hard with the most severe form of bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness). Little did I know then that the only way my speed was going to help me was to escape from a maximum-security mental institution!
Bipolar. On one hand, the word is loaded with stigma. On the other, so many celebrities, star athletes and other notable people have it, that it’s often used as a buzz-word on the front pages of newspapers.
The fact is over 3% of people have bipolar disorder – and its onset almost always hits during the fragile teenage years.
My “lows” took me to the depths of anxiety and pain. By comparison, my “highs” seemed magical…but how long can you live on 2 hours of sleep a night?
My poor parents, fearing for me and my safety, hired bodyguards to try to protect me from myself and the predators who surrounded me. One stood by me throughout my long road to recovery. He’s been my rock for 16 years – and my husband for 10.
I am sharing my personal story, including my shocking extremes of behavior, to help other families understand what is happening to their loved ones. When my parents tried to understand what was happening to me, the only books they found were dry, clinical accounts of sad, mad, lost people – not exactly encouraging words for a mom and dad desperately clutching at straws.
Most people find it hard to believe what I experienced, how I managed to survive that, and want to know how I can be thriving now. My story proves that you can go away and come back again, and that no matter how bad things look, there is hope for a better future.