My Sad, Sad & Happy, Happy Story

By Patsy Robertson


Today I hate my bipolar because I feel depressed and very sad. But it will not last. I will soon be happy again. I skipped one or two doses of my medication and that always throws me into a miserable sad depression. As I drove to my psychiatrist's office today to pick up my Eskalith & Concerta I became vividly aware that I thought about dying. But that will not last. I will soon be happy again!

I was diagnosed with Major Depression/Bipolar & ADD in 1994 when I checked myself into the hospital for a week. I was broken mentally & physically unable to work or get out of the bed for that matter.

This was not the first time I had been treated for depression in my life. The first time I was a young mother under a great deal of stress from an abusive husband. I was first hospitalized for two weeks and then one week shortly after my coming home the first time. I was not given medication. A beautiful young mother was my room mate. She got to go home on a weekend pass to see how she would cope at home. She never returned because she killed herself. This left a very strong impression on me. I decided then that I would run to my doctor anytime I felt the same feeling of depression coming on.

That seemed to work until around 1985 when a traumatic episode between my [new] husband, my daughter & I happened. I went to a psychiatrist for help because I recognized the exact same feelings I had when I was in the hospital. The feeling of hopelessness & darkness. My psychiatrist was the first to tell me about anti-depressants and how it would be trial & error to discover the right medication for me. I was very pleased to know he understood my depression. I began taking Desyrel & still it every night before going to sleep.

My father died in 1993, my mother moved in six months later. My daughter-in-law had a mastectomy at seven months pregnant when diagnosed with breast cancer. I was five years breast cancer free at the time. My grand son was delivered c-section & almost died when his lungs collapsed. My husband lost his "big important corporate job" after surviving 3 buy-outs. He & my mother freaked out because their lives were not going as planned. Everything began falling apart, I thought I was going crazy - it seemed everything was my fault. Oh! My middle child came to us for help with a "crank" addiction.

I knew I needed help. I found a physiatrist & therapist that I really liked.  I began taking an additional anti-depressant. I worked very hard at being strong. I wanted to keep everyone & myself happy. I loved my job. But it was getting harder to pretend everything was OK. I was a special events coordinator at a country club. I directed PGA golf tournaments, tennis tournaments, weddings, golf outings, holiday parties for the club members and booked corporate meetings & golf outings. I worked with a lot of celebrities & the press. I had to get well. I could not allow anyone to know how sick I was. The mental began making me physically ill. I could barely walk at times. I had sores on my head & in my mouth. I was broken physically & emotionally.  

When I wasn't at work, I was in bed. I would rest or sleep until it was time to go back to work. I became a work-a-holic because it was fun until I couldn't figure out what to do next. I always had 10-12 event files on my desk. I could not figure out which file to open first. I became so overwhelmed that I would take a walk around the club house. I would visit the pro-shop & the dish washers - anyone I could find to talk to early in the morning. Then I would go back to my desk & try it again. I actually fired my assistant because she made a mistake. This is something I am ashamed of. I was trying to protect myself because she had to be better at my job than I was in order to protect me. She was a wonderful person but I would never have fired her under normal circumstances. I was not operating with a normal mind & I knew it. But I thought it would go away. I couldn't loose my job.

My boss brought the food & beverage manager into the office to assist me. I knew I wasn't fooling anyone. I had always been super on the job and I could barely function on the job now.

My boss called me into his office one day & very kindly suggested I needed help. He gave me the name & phone number of an intake counselor at a wonderful facility here in Atlanta. I went right away and this was the beginning of some very scary times for me but after ten years I am doing better than I ever dreamed I would or could.

The most difficult part for me was how my family responded to my "mental illness" to  my "depression" to my "Bipolar" and I've never told them about ADD! ha! There is nothing funny about what I have been through or what I have to do now but I have found a sense of humor is necessary for me.

My oldest son told me that depression is not a medical illness while his wife said "yes, it is." My daughter called me "Elvis" because of all the meds I was taking. She will never know how much I would like to dump the meds. It is work to keep your medication organized & refilled. Then you have to remember to take it at a certain time each day & usually with food. Most people don't understand how important anti-depressants are to me.

Every single time I decide to skip a pill or run out of a prescription & skip a pill I find myself thinking about dying. I want to die. Then I remind myself that it is skipping the meds that cause me to feel this way. I am convinced 100% that if I stopped taking my meds I would want to or try to kill myself. I don't want to die, I want to live! I am beginning to feel so much better now. I am not going back where I was. I am not ashamed nor do I feel weak for taking my meds. I feel smart, I feel like I am enabling myself to attend my grand children's graduations & weddings. What would they think if I gave up? That keeps me going to my shrink more than anything on this earth.

It is very difficult being bipolar. I have to take Concerta now to "wake me up" because the Eskalith makes me so flat. But by sticking to the regiment I am beginning to reap some real benefits. I have a group of ladies in my home every Thursday night for a Bible study. I hadn't entertained in my home since 1998! They are new friends and they accept me just the way I am & I them too! It is so wonderful.

I began writing a book in 1982. I am now writing again. With this "Bipolar/ADD mind" of mine it is a challenge! But I don't care if I never get it done, I am so happy I am writing again. I did put the book together in a large binder. That is a major achievement for me. There are days that I look back over the last one to three days and it seems I floated through them. I do get tired when I have a string of mania days. I was mania most of my life now that I look back on it but without the drops. The drops are painful I think because I try to analyze them too much. But I have to remind myself even as I write this that the drops usually come when I miss my medication. In a perfect world they would make it easier to get the medications. There are such tight restrictions on Concerta for example that I have to drive all the way to my doctor's office to get a new prescription every 30 days. This should be easy, but for me it is not very easy. My daughter is allowed to pick it up, but sometimes I forget to give her & my doc enough notice.

If not for the researchers, the doctors & the trials I would have no hope. I am able to live a good life again because I have fought hard to keep my mind and I seek out good psychiatrists to help me. I am fortunate because I have a family doctor who insists I go to my shrink for my psychiatrist medications. It is not easy. It is very hard battle but it is a fight worth fighting.

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