Some people say, "I woke up on the wrong side of bed today." I used to say, "I woke up on the wrong side of life." That's exactly how I felt for many years. I knew from a very young age that something was wrong with me. I used to go through severe suicidal lows, but never followed through with taking my life. So, year after year, I muddled through life, a very miserable person, just surviving. I read many self-help books, but still no relief. Now I'm 44 and after years of struggling, I finally have answers. Im trying to take my life back. There are actually names and diagnoses for what I battle. I have mental illnesses called bipolar affective disorder - also called manic depression - without psychosis. But, I also battle related psychiatric illnesses like Borderline Personality Disorder (which is an emotional dysregulation disorder), and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). It's common for people with mental illnesses to have co-morbid psychiatric symptoms. I also have had a hysterectomy, fibromyalgia and arthritis throughout my body and I'm entering menopause, all of which contributed to my mental health condition. I always thought I was a little crazy. Now I know I am for sure, but there are reasons for it and treatment is available. What is crazy anyway? People don't believe that I'm mentally ill because I don't look crazy! They just haven't seen me during one of my rages, looking like a raving lunatic. I've been able to hide it well by wearing a mask for many years. I should get an Oscar for best actress. It's a role that became harder for me to play the older I got. I became more and more emotional. I gave an all-star performance while raising my kids and dealing with all the doctors and various schools and mental health professionals for them. I also did this while working. You must show no sign of weakness at all cost. So I would go to work, wearing my armor, then come home and fall apart. I was hell for my family to live with. They bore the brunt of my pain. Trying to hide bipolar disorder is like trying to force a beach ball under water. In the last ten years, the depression hit an all time low. Suicide was always on my mind, but I was too chicken to follow through with it. For me, suicidal thoughts became as automatic as breathing. The fact that I have family was the only thing that kept me grounded. Fortunately I haven't become a statistic. I figured out all of my illnesses on my own, mainly through medical books. Doctors wouldn't listen. I was terrified to admit to many of the crazier things I did in the privacy of my home because I was afraid someone would take my kids from me. I had visual hallucinations when my kids were small because of extreme stress. I used to see blood dripping from the walls and know absolutely that it was their blood but I also knew that what I was seeing wasnt real so I just hid it from everyone. I never told a soul. When my youngest son was diagnosed with bipolar, I read The Bipolar Child and it was like they had been living with me as a child. It described me that accurately. Now I had a name for what was wrong with me. I started my search to get help. My first foray into help wasnt that successful. I went to a therapist who told me to ask my general practioner to prescribe an antidepressant. I had no clue that taking that advice would lead me into a four month long vacation in hell. At first I thought I had found a magic pill. I started feeling wonderful! But wonderful soon skyrocketed into full blown mania with little to no sleep, grandiose thought patterns, delusional thinking, reckless actions, total disregard for my family or job. I was completely out of control. It was awful. And I simply couldnt stop. I also started having physical problems at about this time too that wouldnt respond to any treatment. My knees would swell uncontrollably. I couldnt walk. My back would hurt so badly I could hardly get out of bed in the mornings, my hips would lock up on me, I had painful places on my body that hurt to the touch and I felt like I had a constant case of the flu. I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. There was a psychiatrist who happened to share office space with the doctor who diagnosed me with fibro and I had my boyfriend take me in to see him because I was literally at the point of wanting to die if I couldnt get relief from this unrelenting emotional pain. I was reeling back and forth between bouts of severe mania and depression from the antidepressants they had me on and I had no idea why. That man saved my life. Much to my surprise this doctor listened to my history, was supportive and confirmed my diagnosis. Then, together we worked out a prescription regimen for me to start with the realization that it may take time to find what works for me along with the proper dosage. It's a total ****-shoot, purely trial and error. What works for one person might not work for another. My Doctor and I are a team. That's critical in finding the right doctor. Unfortunately, I had to switch doctors due to losing insurance. Now my medications are up in the air again and Im trying to reach stability once more.