By Stefanie Tomasello
Finding a doctor who listens and the right combination of medicines makes all the difference
I’m bi-polar and stumped; I'm stumped today with what I have to share. What does one with bi-polar even say? My story includes the dramatic highs and lows of the illness, as well as the pestering urge to slit my wrists when I am being emotionally abused. I had asked myself: “When does it get good again?” I remember two summers ago at nightfall, sitting by the pool on a ledge, having a cigarette, just plotting my suicide and precisely how I was going to do it. I didn't really want to kill myself, because somewhere deep down, just waiting to get out, was happiness.
As a teenager, I was on Zoloft and anti-anxiety medication, and I held a job throughout my teens and twenties with a vibrant smile on my face. Nothing could hold me back. It was in my late twenties that I noticed that I had I started to become very manic. My moods were up and down and I was crying all the time. My depression and work pressures had taken a toll on me. I was burnt out and I desperately needed the right medication. The doctors put me on all different kinds of medications that didn't work; and the worst part was that none of them listened to a word I had to say. It was very stressful with all the side effects that I experienced from the medications. It was especially hard having my family see this roller coaster of my illness.
My father has schizophrenia and unfortunately went to prison for murder of another family member. I could not deal with this. It was far too much for a girl like me to handle. I received no support concerning the incident, so I had to learn to survive on my own. This was very hard considering the pressures of being bi-polar as well as there being a death in the family. Later on, I went back to my father’s apartment, lit a candle and said a prayer. I needed closure and I think that this was one thing that I could do for my family member. Just thinking about her, I remembered her smile and the way she always laughed, big and loud. It fit her and her laugh made me happy.
I was hospitalized four times for my illness and due to not being on the right medications. Nothing seemed to work for me. A year ago, I was talking about my father with my counselor and it opened a floodgate of emotion. I was in the state of mind in which I believed that any man would hurt me, rape me or kill me. This led to me thinking about my father; I was very paranoid, thinking there was serious harm coming my way. So I went into the hospital and right away the doctors put me on Ativan which worked wonders, because my anxiety had skyrocketed. It had been spiraling out of control, like a enchanted spider web woven of silk thread. I stayed in the hospital for a week and they also put me on Haldol. A new diagnosis was revealed and I was considered to be bi-polar with hints of schizophrenia. I was able to accept this new diagnosis.
I finally found a new doctor who was heaven-sent for me. I have been with her for the past two years and I’m doing beautifully. I told her right away to put me on Zoloft because I was so depressed and the bi-polar medication was not enough. I needed something else; the combination of medications just didn't feel right to me. So the doctor put me on Zoloft and added Seroquel for my highs and lows which worked wonders. I noticed a huge difference. I had been aware of my highs and lows, and by letting my doctor know, the result was no less than a miracle. She upped the Seroquel a bit and I have been more balanced than I have ever been in my life. I was also put on Haldol which I felt in awe of, from the improvements I experienced. It felt like sunset at nightfall, or a like a colorful rainbow on a gloomy, misty and cloudy day. It just works for me. I haven't relapsed yet and I get a shot of Haldol each month now. The only side effect I experience now is tremors but that’s why I take Cogentin.
I recently began receiving social security; but to tell you the truth I love it! I get to do things that I never did in my teens because of working so much. Now I can sit in a cafe with a good cup of coffee and just enjoy reading a novel with the sun streaming in. I’ve never felt this great before in my life! I'm more creative; painting and writing, reading and getting out more. I'm so blessed. See, I knew there was happiness just waiting to get out – I think it was just waiting for the perfect time. At first it was a lot of work, but happiness gets easier and you learn to love being happy, and re-learn how to love yourself and not to feel sad all the time. It’s not perfect but it gets better and you can be happy. I think we all want to be happy. Like I said happiness just waits for the perfect time to come out. I'm happy, one day at a time, and I hope you, too, can be happy one day at a time.