In General as a whole, and to my ability to remember, which is not great, my childhood was not bad.
I remember afternoons filled with exploration and games, of naughty stuff, of adventure, of fantasy and of Joy.
Things where not perfect at home but they where not as bad as some, and better than others.
Most of my Angst peaked during my teenage years, and continued from there. Sometimes I wish I could speak to that confused, self conscious and lost child.
After I was married, and after some stressful events, I had a huge fight with my husband one evening. I remember a lot of shouting, running outside sitting crying on the step. I don’t remember who phoned my mom and dad. It could have been me. It could have been my husband.
When they got there I was lying on the couch, in the dark, in tears. Having drank alcohol to just calm down, I was very much unresponsive, and uncommunicative. No one really knew what to do with me, as I didn’t know what to do with myself.
My mother told me this is the last straw; I would have to get help. I couldn’t go on like this. My inability to deal with my emotions, and this dangerous depression that had haunted me through out my life, was starting to steal me away. She cared. I think in many ways, even though she has her faults, my mother just didn’t know what to do with me most of my life. I know she tried her best, and I know she loves me.
My mother paid for me to see a psychologist. The Psychologist was so great and after two sessions told me she thinks I need to go to Psychiatrist for a diagnosis, and knowing I can’t afford it she recommended Tygerberg Hospital.
She organised a referral to Tygerberg Hospital Psychiatric department. I had to wait more than a month for the appointment, but the thing was I was taking an active step in trying to help myself. I continued seeing the psychologist while I waited for my appointment.
It wasn’t easy and it was incredibly scary. I bullied myself through it all, forcing myself to just ignore all my fears and phobias. By that time I was very much withdrawn, and unable to do simple things like going to the shop by myself.
Arno was very supportive, and I know my parents also tried to help me. I had recently resigned from a very stressful job, and was working as tutor for my aunt’s children in the afternoons, and even she was really supportive.
All the support and encouragement made me feel accountable to them, and also forced me to commit to getting help.
After tons of questionnaires, a 2 hour session with the psychiatrist, blood tests etc, I received my diagnosis. Severe Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Social Phobia
I was also given the option of continuing my psychological and psychiatric treatment through Tygerberg, which is a government teaching hospital and therefore much cheaper. I was put on 2 Anti Depressants, Tryptanol and Aropax.
I went back to my expensive Psychologist for my last session with her. One of the first things she told me was “How do you feel about your diagnosis?”
All I felt was relief and validation. There was a name for what I was experiencing, and there was a way forward.
I started treatment at Tygerberg. Had to go once a week, and the psychologists and Psychiatrist would rotate every 3 months (as they where students) so that brought its own challenges. But after a month I was asked if I would be interested in group therapy.
My initial reaction was, “no ways”. I was asked to try it once though, and immediately I was hooked.
Group therapy offered something that one on one could not. I got to basically connect with others in the same and worse position than me. I got the opportunity to be honest about my experiences, and what I felt, and had a commitment to these other people in the same boat as me, to be honest, as they where. And to give honest feedback on every issue talked about. I got to see my own issues and other’s from differing points of view. I also had much more consistency in treatment as the group, nor the therapists (3) in it, often changed.
After about a year I stopped my one on one sessions and just continued with group. After another while I had to go back to one on one, but was offered an opportunity to go into treatment with a slightly more senior psychologist who did not have to rotate every 3 months. The funny thing? She was in the children’s section, and in the exact same office I had gone to all those years ago as a child.
After about 2 years I stopped all therapy, continued with 6 month visits to the Psychiatrist and staid on Aropax. I was already of the Tryptanol at this stage, but got it occasionally in case I couldn’t sleep.
I was doing really well on the medication. I was happy, energetic. I was mostly on a Bipolar high. Hypo manic. I didn’t realise this neither did the psychiatrists. This was my fault though because as before I managed to easily manipulate the tests they gave me. I had set my mind on the diagnosis being the only one I wanted to work with. I had met many people struggling with Bipolar in group therapy, and I was Not going to be one of those. I made up my mind you see. So I never really talked about the edginess. That was written off as anxiety disorder, which came with depression, didn’t it? Ok I couldn’t quite figure out why mine where never really anxiety attacks. My social phobia also disappeared and the OCD was not really OCD as such. It only influenced my thoughts, and never my actions. And for 2 years it was quite okay. It was a huge change from the constant dark molasses of depression which held me down and weighed me down.
It was fun. I remember about a week after I started on the double dose of AD’s my brother asked me to go with him in his car one morning. We put the radio loud and I was Giggling, glowing, talking a 100 miles a minute. He asked me “Are you on drugs” and I said YES. I LOVE these anti-depressants.
At that stage of my life, being ready for a party 24/7 was okay. It was good. It was fun; I needed all the energy I had to deal with another stressful job, as well as marriage.
I loved it.
Then it turned dark.
I had 2 miscarriages. The first, I wasn’t aware that I was pregnant. I had no idea. I had a week away with my husband, visiting my party animal friend In July in Richards’s bay. I drank, I smoked, and I got stoned. I slept so much. I was constantly tired and constantly hungry, but I never once even considered the possibility that I might be pregnant.
My cycle was a mess, and I decided to make an appointment with a Gynaecologist. That’s when he told me, “You appear to be pregnant but there is no foetus”
Two weeks of hell on earth followed, where I went through every imaginable emotion, until eventually I was booked in for a D&C. There was no hope. This pregnancy was not meant to be, and I was stuck with all the feelings of Guilt about my conduct, which probably caused this.
I went to the psychiatrist after this, discussed it, and said all the right things. I refused to be one of those women who fell apart because of a miscarriage so I carried on.
December 2004 I found out I was pregnant again. This time it was planned and we where overjoyed. I was ecstatic, so was my husband, the whole family. I could only get an appointment with my gynae for 2 months later, but I didn’t mind too much. I knew nothing.
So on the day of my now Sister in Law’s kitchen tea, I drove myself to my mother’s house, for the surprise event. On the way I started getting cramps. I thought maybe my stomach was upset. I went to the bathroom at my mom’s house and there was blood.
I immediately burst into tears; no one else had arrived yet, so I quietly told my mom something is wrong I need to go to the doctor. I drove myself back home, sobbing all the way. When my surprised husband opened the front door, I told him I am loosing our baby.
The rest of it was even more dramatic than the first one, and involved my gynaecologist basically leaving me to bleed, at home for 3 days before managing to see me. (I never once thought of just going to the E.R.) At that time I had already spontaneously miscarried, and I was not in a good state.
For a while all was fine. I was sad. I was down, but after another consultation with my Psychiatrist (a diff one every time) I had decided, even 2 can’t get me down. I will not go back into therapy I could handle this.
Then I lost my mind
I was edgy. I was anxious. I needed a fix. I needed excitement. I was bored. I was tired of boredom. I had to Do SOMETHING. NOW.
I discovered a MSN Backgammon site on the internet (which has since been closed) this was a community of internet depravity. I discovered Cybersex; I discovered the godlike powers a woman has online. I discovered the dark side of the internet, and submersed myself into it.
I told my husband that I think we should have an open relationship, and I dragged him kicking and screaming into the mess with me.
At the same time I started taking Guitar lessons again, I joined a few bands/jamming sessions. I drank to excess. I was a Dark Angel of Party. I was permanently on some kind of adrenaline rush. I got argumentative, harsh, cruel, and wallowed in darkness.
This was not the darkness of depression. It was the centre of self destruction, which can be even darker than depression, and 20 times more dangerous. With depression I had the darkness, but no will to do anything, even to myself. With the despair I now had I had energy galore, and a will to push myself into area’s I had never explored before.
This episode of my life culminated in a severe fight with Arno, where I took a whole pack of Tryptanol, and when he phoned the ambulance I told him I didn’t take it, I was lying. Luckily he didn’t listen to me.
The night in hospital was a nightmare. It was worse to tell my parents the next day, as I was working for my dad, and had to take the day off.
I was embarrassed. It was a wake up call though. I had to take a step back and look at my self destruction and stop it.
It took a long time for me to work through what the issues where. I didn’t go back into therapy, but I did discuss it with my psychiatrist, still avoiding the “manic” factors, as I just didn’t recognise it yet.
Later in 2005 I was pregnant again. It was a tough pregnancy and filled with fear of loosing my baby, but she was safely delivered 24 July 2006.
She was enough reason for me to find healthy ways to deal with my feelings.
The last few years I’ve spent figuring out how to deal with them in a healthy way. I’m still in that journey. There’s no quick fix. I did go off the Aropax, 2 days after I came home with Caitlin.
I went through what I recon was probably PND. I had some lows that I managed to work through with the help of a lot of friends.
Last year I even contemplated going into therapy again. This is still an option. But since I read up on Bipolar II, and realised I am a fit, even up to the usual wrongful diagnoses of depression and anxiety disorder with OCD, I discovered more tools to ease my way ,tools to better help me understand my “chemical romance” with my body.
I guess there is a lot I glossed over, but this is about how much I want to immerse myself in that darkness. I’ve moved on. I move on every day. I’m sure I will get back to some things from time to time.
Update - 01/02/2011
I've decided to leave this post unedited. It is very painful to re-read as I am a very different person now from what I was then. This happened though, and these were my thoughts about it last year when I typed this out.
I've now come to different realisations which I will share soon enough. Especially the big one. I am not bipolar or depressed. Not really. I allow myself those as an escape from responsibility. This applies to me, Myself. There are many people who do experience these horrible conditions and will need therapy and medication for the rest of their lives.
For me it was a necessary learning phase. Something I had to experience and get through. I'm over it now