Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Talk it out Tuesday

So today we are doing our first feature! 

Laura has decided to share her story with us, so show some love here and on her blog as well! Thanks :)
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If you ask my mother, she will tell you I have been hysterical since birth. I am not sure if that is true, or a projection of her mental state. To say my mom was tempestuous in my younger years would be an understatement. I can’t tell you how many mornings I stood out on the driveway waiting for carpool with her burning hand print on my face or thigh. My embarrassed blush never seemed to hide it.

I don’t want you to think I am blaming my mom for my mental problems. I am sure she did the best she could. No doubt she spent a lot of time and energy hiding her own demons. My poor mom was trapped in a Junior League world where her only option was to produce two kids and an impeccably decorated home. All that mattered is that we, as a family, projected the image that all was well.

I guess some of that rubbed off on me, because when I felt the darkness welling up inside me, I never thought to share with anyone. I saw my increasing mental discomfort as something to be deeply ashamed of and didn’t seek the help I needed.

What happened next is somewhat cliché in the bipolar world: self-destructive behavior, self-medication with alcohol and street drugs, and a string of nightmarish relationships.
I made more mistakes in the past than I can count, but one decision I made had surprising consequences.

When things finally got so miserable for me that I felt like I couldn’t go on, I stepped out of the stream of my life, and went to graduate school for photography. In that environment of exploration, I was finally able to use art to process what was going on internally. I also found an excellent psychiatrist who cared enough about me to take the time to find out what was really wrong.

In my final year of grad school I was finally diagnosed as Bipolar, and I began the work of reclaiming my life. I wish I could tell you it was all down hill from there, that the pieces clicked into place, that it all made sense, that I didn’t have any more episodes of self-destructive behavior, and I didn’t get involved with any more inappropriate men.

The reality is that I struggled, and continue to struggle with finding the right medication. I have had trouble finding a support network of friends and family members who understand, and sometimes I still screw up. (That compulsive spending thing is a doozy of a symptom for me) While I have worked to communicate with my parents about how I really feel, sometimes walls come up on both sides and we can’t connect.

Here comes the happy ending! A little over two years ago I decided to try my hand at match.com. I figured there probably wasn’t a guy out there compatible with my particular brand of crazy, so what could it hurt? I dabbled for a while, alternately frustrated by a lack of tempting choices, and hurt because these guys didn’t seem to find me tempting either.

Then lo and behold I decided to email a guy who sounded kind of interesting…we met a week later and got married in Vegas two weeks after that. Our two year wedding anniversary was last Monday, and our son turns one in five weeks.

I still struggle with my meds, trying to find a balance between effect and side effect. To be honest, if I could find a psychologist out here to chat with, I would probably jump on it. I still have days when I feel the darkness lapping at my ankles, and my spending problem is definitely enabled by all those dang cute cloth diapers out there. But you know what, I am happy.


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