My name is Beth Graham and, about six months ago, I hit rock bottom. No wait… I aspired to be at rock bottom. I’d been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder about nine years previous (as you can see from the picture below) so I had gradually accepted that I was defective and could simply never accomplish anything that someone normal could. I was filled with self-loathing and, quite frankly had developed the tendency to emotionally abuse myself which hindered me from fully enjoying my life.
It started with workplace stress that infiltrated my personal life and then of course my stress from my personal life infiltrated my professional domain. In hindsight it shouldn’t really shock me that I ignored literally every single warning sign that something was seriously wrong with me. I isolated myself from everyone I cared about because I became convinced I was too good for them, I started acting outside of my character because I became unable to comprehend the consequences to my actions, and I stopped sleeping because I was too busy dancing until 3 AM. The people around me started speculating about what could be going on with me but the person who knows me the best (myself) turned her back on me. I mean I was having fun, right? Why would I let my actual self ruin my good time?
If I had known at the time, that I have Bipolar Disorder and not Major Depressive Disorder, I would have reached out for help a lot sooner. The truth about a (hypo)manic episode is that it can be all fun and games… until its not. Pretty soon the elated mood and inflated self-confidence that I’d practically been feeding with lack of sleep and caffeine were joined by less appealing symptoms like racing thoughts, paranoia, mood swings, and finally suicidal ideations. For my last week at work before my breakdown, I thought about driving into a pole every single time I pulled onto the street my office was located on. I thought I was the happiest I’d ever been and yet I still contemplated ending my life for seemingly no reason. The human brain has a nearly indescribable complexity to it and once I FINALLY accepted that I was not in control of my own brain, I admitted I needed help and checked myself into an inpatient facility.
Fast forward six months to today and I am now actually the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been. I take care of myself and do anything I can to maintain stability by eliminating as many triggers as I possible from my life, which included switching jobs. If you had told me six months ago I would be happy now, I never would’ve believed it as after I crashed from my manic episode I was convinced I would never be happy again. The most frightening thing about my experience is how aware I already was of the resources available to me as I struggled to recover from my episode. I had been battling what I thought was unipolar depression for nearly a decade, I had a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and I had years of experience volunteering at a crisis hotline. All of that knowledge and experience was right at my fingertips and I still ignored symptom after symptom until it was almost too late.
Recently, I developed the idea to attempt to use this experience as a positive since maybe, just maybe my story will reach someone who needs help and has been hesitant to seek it or wasn’t sure what the next step would be. With AKA InPSYte, I intend to pour my heart and soul into spreading mental health awareness, talking about some of the methods I use on a daily basis to remain stable, and putting a face to the issues that many are suffering through in silence. I know I’m not alone in this world and neither are you… I promise.