In my time on here I have read an immense amount of topics on teen pregnancy and mental illness. So I thought I would share a bit of my story, to see if it might help answer others thoughts.
My mood disorder, Bipolar 1, started to manifest at age 12. I was a happy though quiet girl when suddenly my world flipped upside down. Cackling madly while trying to drink poison, screaming at friends at school for no reason and a terrible paranoia that people were reading my thoughts. It was a very confusing time, I told no one of my wild behaviour and no one noticed anything in me to be too concerned about.
Through high school I was tormented with low self-estem, erratic behaviour and deep depression. Every day was a struggle to keep hold of myself, my identity and sometimes that was just impossible. When I started college (Australia age 16) I thought it would be a fresh start, a chance to change who I was into what I am. But a week into college I found out I was pregnant, not only pregnant but 5 months pregnant. I went into shock, the father of this newly discovered child had been my first boyfriend, who I hadn't spoken to in months.
Telling my family. My poor father, I've never seen him cry so much before or since, one of my sisters was angry and scared the other scared but supportive. My mother was practicle and gave me what support she could while working full time, studying full time after she had just left my father.
Pregnancy was, strangely enough, a massive relief. I didn't feel depressed I felt ecstatic! I drifted through the remaining 4 months of my pregnancy, scared, very lonely but on the whole happy. The birth of my child was a shock, it is rather horribly painful to give birth and I think that's when I started to crack. I had my baby and I couldn't sleep, I had endless bouts of mastitis which was very painful and I just could not sleep. The father of my child stayed with me for a couple of months but when he admitted drug problem I had to ask him to leave.
Now the strain started to show, I was alone, I only had two kind-of friends who I could no longer relate to. My family are very hard working busy people, though sometimes my mother and I would talk. My poor mother! I was getting more paranoid by the day that she secretly hated me, that EVERYONE did. I started to hear whispered voices while going to sleep which soon erupted into many voices shouting. I thought I saw Jesus, I thought I remembered flying. I started to tell people what their past lives were and, as I thought I could fly, I leapt of a second story balcony and damaged my ankle and knee.
I listened to the radio, waiting for a message from three characters I'd made up, protectors of the Earth, I was the fourth and my son was the 'chosen child'. This went on for nine months, but nobody really noticed, I kept it all a secret. Until one day when I was positive I would get a radio message and I didn't. The truth hit me. It wasn't real. Suddenly I was petrified! What was real?! What was a horrible vision of my insanity?! I was mortified and told no one, I spent the next year figuring out what was real and what was not until I no longer suffered psychotic delusions. But I did have moods, irrational fears, horrible lows, embarrassing highs and all swapping many times in a day.
At this stage my first REAL struggle with my sons father came up, after missing 4 weekends in a row of seeing our 2 year old, of being sent home for 2 weeks in a row for being under the influence, he started threatening me. The threats wouldn't make sense, they would come at random times and as a single mother I was scared, I didn't know what this person was capable of after all. As scared as I was of losing, I took him to court and got a DVO. Now we had to meet him out for visitation which the father organised every 3 months or so.
The experience left me frazzled and scared, more irrational fears popped up until I could no longer leave the house without suffering major panic attacks, sometimes completely passing out or throwing up in public. I had gotten Hepatitis A and was very sick for the next year, each day shrinking more into my shell and thanking the almighty that at least I had a beautiful son, at least I was a caring and kind mother. I clung to that shred of confidence. I attempted university 4 different times but I could never keep up, I couldn't even keep up with housework which my mother ended up helping with as she lived next door.
I got some therapy and had a brief period of normality before I started to slip again... into mania. My step fathers best friend suggested we quickly move away together to the neighbouring state, he said no one really liked me or appreciated me, but he did. He was 52 and I was 22. I moved and was thoroughly punished for it, when the mania wore off I was devastated, he was not nice to me, took my keycards, made fun of my son behind his back and I started to drink at night. A bottle of wine a night to shut out his words, to shut out the fact that I had done this, what I never ever thought I would have done. I had no money to move back home and we lived like that for 7 months, halving the house so we never had to see each other. That was when I visited my family... I never went back.
Relieved but feeling horribly guilt for what I had done I tried to pick my life back up, but it was hard, I'd hurt people, I'd killed my confidence, I was now revolted in sex and dating. Eventually I snapped enough for my best friend to notice who sent me back to a psychologist. Who then sent me to The Black Dog Institute, to be tested for Bipolar. I never actually expected to be diagnosed with Bipolar, I was sure my illness would be something different surely... something curable.
It wasn't "Bipolar type 1 with psychotic features and ultra rapid cycling". I was so shocked, it took a few weeks for it to sink in... I was going to feel this way... forever. Then came the medication trials, endless horrible zombie pills, horrible looking mood-charts and many many tears. I never wanted to be on lithium, it was my last option. But, when I took it, everything just simmered down a bit. I still had moods, stiil felt lost, but the feeling was no longer all body and soul consuming. Relief! Over the next year I slowly built back up my self esteem, I conquered my fear of intimacy and got together with an old friend of mine. My life slowly started to knit back together. it took a lot of effort, it STILL take a lot of effort but I think I got through everything okay. Throughout everything my love and care and attention towards my son never wavered, I pride myself hugely on my parenting. I wrote, throughout the mess, two novels and am writing 5 more, I kept wonderful friends, I held shaky relationships with my family and found a beautiful man to share my time with.
All and all I think it could have been a lot worse and I love my life regardless of my trials. I think that should give hope to people, that no matter what may happen to you, you can still find happiness, still treasure memories. Well, I find it a hopeful story anyway!
What a good story... Thanks for sharing with us
First of all, I must tell you, your writing skills are very good. Thank you for sharing your story. Good luck to you. You are a survivor.