Mental health is a very important issue for me.
I have bipolar disorder, PTSD, panic disorder, and high anxiety, so it’s important for me to share my story and to do my part in spreading mental health awareness. I’m also a former alcoholic, bulimic, and anorexic. My story is not a simple one to share, but I’ll try to tell as much as I can!
Childhood and Teenage Years
When I was about 10 years old, I began to have some massive mood swings and depressions. At the time, I was diagnosed incorrectly by the family doctor as having depression, and I was put on the drug Celexa. Needless to say, Celexa didn’t do much for me, and my highs and lows just got worse, and my anxiety became a daily struggle. Family troubles such as my twin sister having un-diagnosed autism along with heavy depression and my father being a heavy and abusive alcoholic didn’t help my disorder either … I lived in a very dysfunctional home as a child and teenager. I developed some mild PTSD from my father and suffer from it to this day.
At the age of 15, I was told by a theater teacher that I needed to lose some weight in order to get better roles (I was a talented singer). I remember reading in Teen Magazine (that tells my age, ha!) about this thing called bulimia where girls threw up in order to lose weight. My teenage brain told me that it was a grand idea, and I headed into my parents’ bathroom to vomit for my first time. This kick-started my 17 year long battle with bulimia and anorexia.
Along with the newfound bulimia, meanwhile, my moods kept getting worse and worse. I had thoughts of suicide and cut myself a few times out of frustration – I still bear one scar on my lower tummy from that period. I saw many different psychiatrists and counselors, but none of them helped me – they just threw random meds out and tried talk therapy which didn’t help. I remember lashing out at my mother in despair one day because our theater wasn’t performing The Secret Garden (they opted for Oklahoma! instead, damn them) – that was an awful day for me and my poor mom.
I went off to college in 2003 to a different city and joined a sorority. Sadly, I felt that I didn’t fit in with my sorority sisters, and I kept throwing up (ever thrown up down the drain in a dorm shower? Yes, I’m that person!) and having long periods of sadness and moodiness. In 2005, I had my first mental breakdown. I dropped out of school and came home, severely depressed and in a fog. I remember my mom trying to get me out of bed to walk at the park for just 10 minutes, and I cried the entire time … my mom knew I needed help, so we went back to the current psychiatrist, and I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder and put on a mood stabilizer.
The mood stabilizers seemed to help, but I kept being put on different cocktails of medication when I badly needed consistency. The bulimia raged on too.
2007 to 2009: The Struggle Continues
In 2007, I met my future husband … he was married at the time to another girl, but we were all friends and had a lovely summer together with horses and camping.
In the fall of 2008, drama between my husband’s former wife and me caused me to be suicidal. Luke and I were in love then, but we didn’t show it out of respect for Luke’s ex-wife, but as fate has it, Luke’s ex left him, and we were able to finally show our love through long walks and talks over the drama. Sadly for me, Luke had to leave Amarillo to go live with his family in McKinney, and I was left alone and miserable without him. I overdosed on my medication, and I was hospitalized for the first time and taken to a psych ward. The psych ward in Amarillo is basically a miserable holding tank where no help is truly given – they just wait for you to seem stable and then release you back into society after being evaluated.
In November 2008, Luke and I decided that we couldn’t live without each other, and I asked Luke to come back to Amarillo and move into my apartment with me. He did just that! Meanwhile, I still was seeing an incompetent doctor who kept placing me on random medications in an effort to help me (it did not). About this time, I found my favorite counselor, Brenda. Brenda was seriously the most amazing, caring, intuitive, understanding counselor on the planet – I’ve seen many, many counselors, but Brenda just got me and always had ideas for help (plus I think I’d grown more receptive to talk therapy compared to when I was a teenager).
In 2009, I overdosed on my medications yet again. Back to the hospital, back to the psycho ward I went.
I began seeing Dr. Jenkins, my kick ass current doctor. He placed me on Latuda, a drug specifically for bipolar disorder which truly seemed to help my moods. He also tried TMS Therapy on me (it caused me to become manic, but it was worth a try).
2009 – 2012: Newly Weds
From 2009 to 2012, I slept a TON. I spent most of my time in bed, depressed and exhausted as ever … I noticeably began drinking alcohol more often too.
Luke and I married in April 2012. I had a manic and drunken night and shaved my beautiful long hair off my head earlier that year in January (worst decision ever), so my wedding pictures feature me with very short hair. The bulimia raged on too … I was spending far too much money on binge food and our finances were strained.
2013 – 2016: The Worst Years of My Life
My drinking became out of control from 2013 to 2016, and I subsequently lived the worst years of my life during this time, y’all. Due to a failed attempt to get into a giant house with a horse barn (causing terrible tension with my dad as he funded the entire ordeal), I started drinking to numb the pain and in an attempt to manage my moods. My medications were not working properly at this time, needless to say.
Luke would often come home to find me passed out on the floor with bruises all over my body from running into things in that terrible house. He told me that he dreaded coming home to his drunk wife ever night … I was being a terrible partner by drinking daily, usually to get hammered, and that haunts me to this day. I developed a nasty and constant gurgle in my throat and an odd limp in one of my legs from the constant exposure to alcohol. It was just pure hell, yet I continued to drink.
In February of 2016, I got nearly blackout drunk and took too many Xanax as an attempt to make myself feel better … I called my mom (who had ironically wanted to take me to dinner that night), and she took me to the hospital. I recall lying in a hospital bed in the ER, still drunk out of my mind and high on Xanax, hooked up to various machines … I do remember very clearly Luke telling my mom that “she just drinks and drinks.” Lucky for my drunk ass, the doctor decided not to admit me to the psych ward this time. It was a miserable experience regardless, and I was on 24 hour watch for 3 days.
At this time, my psychiatrist insisted that I try a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation center through one of the hospitals here … this did not go well, and I absolutely resented going to that center. I’d get drunk and go to my mandated meetings and would lie blatantly about getting a sponsor, such and such. I never failed a breathalyzer by some act of God, but I was drinking like a fish. Eventually I had enough of my new psychiatrist and nurse from the center and soon was able to be back with Dr. Jenkins (after telling him that my time at the center was a success).
Around late 2015, I began to experience symptoms of anorexia (b/p sub-type), something that I never thought I’d have … I had always been bulimic at that point, but due to heavy restricting and constant vomiting, I dropped down to 109 pounds (I’m 5’10”). My drinking was still rampant, and I did a few things which really hurt my husband at this time … I know he forgives me, yet I still feel just terrible.
Luke and my mom finally insisted that I needed to go to an eating disorder treatment center, so off I went to Denver in July off 2016 (our house became under contract with a new owner at this time too).
I’m thankful for my time at the Eating Disorder Recovery Center in Denver for sure – one doctor there told me that my limp was caused by alcohol, and this really resonated with me. I also met some fabulous new friends who struggled with the same issues. My psychiatrist there put me on Gabapentin for my high anxiety, a much better and safer choice for me than Xanax or Klonopin (I had a seizure coming off Klonopin at the ED Recovery Center, it was so scary! I was confined to a wheelchair for two days afterward).
Luke and I moved to an apartment in August of 2016, and now we’re in a lovely newly built complex … it’s a HAPPY place to be for me without the taint of alcohol. I abstain like I’m allergic to alcohol.
My eating disordered behaviors continued into early 2017, however, and it took me some time and counseling with Brenda to realize that it was time to stop my ED in its tracks. I made this decision slowly, and recovery was not linear for me (I relapsed with anorexia in the summer of 2017), but as of 2018, I’m primarily ED free and at a healthy weight. I also eat regular meals and try to keep any eating disordered thoughts at bay, although I admit it’s difficult for me at times. My medications (Latuda, Trintellix, Buspar, Rexulti, Xanax, Gabapentin, and Trazadone) work very well for me, and I am as stable as I can hope to be … I think I’ve finally found the winning combination. Finally!
Currently: Living Life as I Should Be
My moods and anxiety still show up in my life – my anxiety (usually in the form of irrational fears and racing heartbeat) comes out at night, and some days are simply better than others in the mood department (I tend to err on the side of depression in the wintertime). I am as stable as I could ultimately ask for, however, and I truly am grateful for stability and sobriety. I do not work – my stability is a full-time job for me, and I’ve grown to accept that (I feel guilty often about this, but it’s for my own good).
Currently, I’m focused on gaining muscle weight, eating healthy meals, and my goal is to be a living Wonder Woman (my hero!) who has beaten her issues. My ED surfaces at times, I’ll admit, but I’m trying my best to kick it’s ass!
And that’s my mental health story. I think it’s important to share my experiences in order to raise awareness for bipolar disorder, anxiety, PTSD, alcoholism, and eating disorders – people have some many misconceptions about them out there, and I want to be a voice who champions mental health awareness.
Thank you for reading! 🙂