A Little Background

Dear Reader,

I suppose some history of my conditions is in order before I come to describing the present. I am in a way writing to myself as much of you in that I often forget or block out the unfortunate events of my past in order to protect my emotions. Fortunately I have always kept a regular diary which I can reference here.

Although my primary illness is now a solid diagnosis of RCB (rapid cycling bipolar), my problems began with anorexia at the age of thirteen. I can remember so clearly a day in the hot summer or 2002 on the beach with my friends and first boyfriend when I first decided to start covering up my thighs, thinking they were ten times huger than they really were. Already, at such a young and naive age, my body dysmorphia began to grow.

To this day I don’t know what initially caused this change in me but I remember small things about my childhood, for example the day I asked my mum for an ice cream and she told me it would make me fat; or the time a neighbor said I would grow up to be beautiful, I repeated this to my father in joy who only turned to me and said that there were far more beautiful women in the world than me. I do believe these small mistakes made my parents shaped me somewhat to be the way I am today.

Of course, as with almost all anorexics, my control issues as a child and adult ran deep. Dinner times in my house consisted of arguments between my parents and plates being thrown around. When I turned vegetarian at the age of eleven I was refused food unless I cooked it myself. By the time my eating disorder became a serious problem I was never encouraged to eat anything, I was simply left alone in bed, too weak to even get up and go to school. Looking back, it is not surprising that I had to find a way of controlling myself and my feelings when I had no way of controlling my environment.

At seventeen, I began exhibiting bulimic behavior. This came along with my increasing abuse of alcohol and drugs which too had started to become a significant problem by the time I reached only sixteen.

I say that alcohol and drugs became a problem at sixteen; however at thirteen I was already drinking neat vodka and smoking pot in my local fields. I grew up on an island where there was little else to do and- as so many do at such an age- I fell in with the ‘wrong crowd.’ All of my friends were doing it and so it came naturally to me.

A further reason I believe I started binge drinking at such a young age was yet another way of hiding from my feelings; in the same way that having control of my calories could.

My drinking and drug taking habit progressed to the point that- by the time I got to university (by some miracle, despite all the odds against me)- I was drinking day and night. Multiple suicide attempts piled up and I needed a drink to get through anything and everything.

Surviving every attempt at taking my own life only- somehow- made me want to get through all of it. For once I saw a bright future ahead of me as I had made it to my number one choice of university; my dream.

After spending a year with a physically abusive heroine addict I was desperate to be saved from both him and myself. In my second year- just before I turned twenty- I met a man who told me I deserved much better and appeared to care for me deeply within weeks of getting to know me. Although this guy turned out to be possessive and somewhat mad, he lead me down my path to recovery from addiction and- to an extent- to escape from myself.

Richard* was a committed member of both alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous and- at that time- the owner of four years clean and sober time. Unfortunately our relationship ended badly but he was the person to inspire me to improve myself and drag myself out of my hell-hole of a life; a slave to addiction and almost an excuse for a human being. I lived my life forever wanting to die and utterly miserable; an existence as opposed to a life and no less than desperate for a way out of everything.

And so, after a several months during the Christmas period of drinking insane amounts along with plenty of crazy and promiscuous behaviour, I went to my first meeting.

Since that fate changing day I have experienced my fair share of struggles, relapsing and yet more suicide attempts but I sit here today- almost four years after that meeting- two years and nine months clean and sober and I could not be more proud of that if I tried.

Moving on to bipolar, among the relapses into both addiction and an eating disorder, and after a confusing history of mental health difficulties, I finally discovered the source of my often insane behaviour and mood swings, even when sober. I cannot quite recall the exact events which finally allowed me to be referred to a proper psychiatrist but I do remember for sure that I was at my wits end when I saw my current psychiatrist in 2011. I described what we now know were extreme manic episodes where I left my house in the middle of the night, in the winter, to go down to a remote beach, strip off all of my clothes and jump in the sea. I recited the time I jumped in front of a bus for fun. I told him about the countless suicide attempts and disabling depression which would come either alone or directly following mania. For a long time I knew not what was wrong with me, I just believed I was a bad person; I didn’t know which part of my personality was ‘me.’

I was initially diagnosed with type two bipolar in which episodes are more short lived but more frequent than in type one. However, due to my history of drug and alcohol abuse I have now developed what they call Rapid Cycling Bipolar which is far more confusing, has the highest rate of suicides of all types and requires more medication (I currently take three types which is soon to become four in the new year).

Today I can tell you that my life in general is far from happy and stable but I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. I am experiencing some troubles with cravings for alcohol of late but the disease is more or less under control and I have a lot of faith in recovery since I have gone through so much without picking up. The anorexic voice remains in my head every second of the day but I have not actively staved myself for the longest stretch of time since the issue began. As for my mental health: I have recently started taking a new anti-psychotic which has made a significant difference in controlling my mood swings.

I face a potential diagnosis of cancer which is a strong possibility but is yet to be confirmed. I face this primarily due to my history of drug abuse and starving myself for a prolonged amount of time.

Despite all of this, I have a new faith in myself I have never felt before, I have a light in my life which is consistently defying all odds. I know not what the future holds for me but I remain strong.

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