The story is long, and it goes on.
I originally became depressed in 2004. My grandmother died; my best friend moved to another town; my relationship ended. It’s normal to feel quite upset about such course of things, and to grieve for a few weeks and feel really sad and cry. It’s just that the grief never ended with me. After half a year I realised it has taken a life of its own, seemingly independent from the things that started it all. After a year all I wanted was to end my life, and at that point it dawned on me perhaps I could start with asking medical help FIRST.
The first medication I was prescribed, Lexapro, was a disaster. It caused total insomnia, total lack of libido (I could have sex, I just had no interest in it at all) and a really strange idea that I should cut skin off my skull because my brain is overheating. It was promptly changed to Aurorix (moclobemide) which… worked. Yes, it made me fat, yes, it made me dizzy, but my depression lifted enough for me to move to another country, realise the depression may not be debilitating but it is still around, and undertake psychotherapy. And so in 2006 I quit the medication, I was going to therapy and it looked like I was cured.
Everything seemed fine and I was medication free for five years. I had short depressive “mini-episodes”, especially if I was stressed and exhausted, but generally all looked pretty good from where I was standing. When I look back at those years, I think I can identify very mild hypomanias as well — hypersexuality, impromptu spending sprees, grandiosity all present. But I felt I was cured, and I was happy to tell everyone. Until I cracked under pressure from a bullying boss at a job that didn’t fulfill me creatively anymore, and one day I discovered 12 hours of sleep are not enough to get out of bed.
My antidepressant was reinstated by a family doctor treating me. I didn’t go to a psychiatrist, as the doctor told me he is qualified enough to help me out. I went back to therapy, and within nine months I felt I was back on my feet. I was aiding my medication regime with legal and illegal drugs. One time I almost killed myself by mixing the moclobemide with ecstasy, but hey, who would worry about such little things when there’s hypomania to be had? And there I was, fearless, happy, creative, energetic, sleepless, laughing until I cried in happiness, trying to change everyone’s lives and feeling invincible, chosen by gods and truly deeply special. In fact, I felt so fulfilled and happy that I quit all the drugs at the end of last year after my unfortunate ecstasy encounter. Cleanness, though, didn’t seem to change much in my sleep patterns. That lack of sleep worried me a bit (although I kind of liked the creative ideas in my head, I’d rather have them before 3am), so I started slowly tapering down my antidepressant. And all was quite jolly well. Until one day in August 2012, when I woke up depressed again, with no prior warning, and I was in panic, because I did not know what the hell is going on.
A few weeks later, when I realised depression is not going anywhere, I decided to go to my family doctor and demand a specialist appointment. He gave me one without hesitation; I think he realised he had to give up at that point. And the specialist was a nice, kind man, who asked me strange questions totally unrelated to depression. Did I have more sex than usual? (Well, my libido has always gone up and down, I thought.) Did I spend more money? (No, I said, I was poor and I knew that.) Did I get more creative and energetic? (Busted.) Did I get more social? (Busted.) Did I drink a lot? (Out of lives here, game over.) And a week later he told me I was bipolar.
Here I am on this new journey. It will take a while longer for me to come to terms with things. I am reading everything I can, at least in the times I can actually focus for an hour or two. I am taking my medication like the good boy I am. No more drinking for me (luckily Seroquel, which I have been prescribed, seems to remove any cravings of this sort). I continue staying away from all drugs as well. Sadly, so far, that hasn’t quite helped yet. But I am determined to become a victor yet again, and announce my amazingness to the world one more time.
The only times when my determination goes a bit below the surface is when I’m too busy being suicidal, but that’s a whole other story of course…