Today I have the privilege of sharing the story of Tiffany’s personal experience with bipolar disorder, opiate addiction, and a suicide attempt that almost landed her in the 27 Club. I stumbled across one of her blog posts in a blogging network group, and I knew immediately that she had a voice that people need to hear.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to think clearly. People with bipolar disorder experience high and low moods—known as mania and depression—which differ from the typical ups-and-downs most people experience.”
Bipolar disorder affects 2.8% of American adults, and it affects men and woman equally. Although the median age of onset is 25, bipolar disorder can start in early childhood or later in life. It affects all ages, races, and social classes.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the world of bipolar disorder through Tiffany’s eyes.
HAYYY. This was the introduction I received from multiple farmers when I was starting my homestead. I am not a farmer, but I like to say I am farmer-ish. So HAYYY! I am Tiffany Romito, a “farmerish” girl living outside of Seattle, Washington.
I am a bipolar mom just trying to get by on my funny farm with pigs and goats. I have three boys, and I live a hectic life wearing many hats. I’m a wife, mom, special ed teacher, friend, and daughter. My newest hat is being a mental health blogger. I detail my experience with bipolar disorder.
When I was 27 years old, I almost joined the 27 Club. According to Wikipedia, “The 27 Club includes popular musicians, artists, actors and athletes who have died at age 27.”
I was battling the biggest fight I’ve ever encountered in my life—addiction. I was chasing happiness through opiate use while trying to numb the irrational, self-deprecating thoughts in my head.
The voices in my head were so loud. These ruminating thoughts would present themselves whether I was manic or in a depressive state—so pretty much all the time.
They brought out the worst qualities in me. Jealousy. Insecurity. Hate. All I could do was quiet them down in any way possible.
My life felt like a facade. I appeared so happy and put together on the outside, but people couldn’t see how much I was suffering on the inside. My mania would last for days, and then, without warning, the pendulum would drop, leaving me in a severe depressive state. The opiate withdrawal intensified these feelings, and soon I was feeling suicidal.
One wet rainy afternoon, I remember driving home and wanting to just give up. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. I truly did not see the point in living. I vividly remember rounding a curve and suddenly just letting go of the wheel. Then I crashed into a telephone pole going 45 miles per hour.
I don’t know how I survived. The car looked like it had been split in half.
Seeking Professional Help
Afterwards, I knew I needed professional help. I was checked into an inpatient rehab center and given my first diagnosis. Bipolar Disorder. I was floored, but mostly I felt ashamed.
I felt ashamed because now there was a definitive reason that something was wrong with me. I felt ashamed because I felt flawed. Imperfect. Unable to be loved.
This shame has gone down significantly with the combination of medication and talk therapy. But ultimately, what really helped? My support system.
Tiffany’s Life Today
My friends, family, and husband have restored the faith I have in myself and in doing so, I don’t feel ashamed anymore. This “flaw” that I was so humiliated by has become something that I accept. I accept that I have bipolar disorder. This is me. This is my story.
I have a neurological brain disorder that unfortunately affects my mood and prohibits me from experiencing happiness at times. As I write that, my eyes are welling up with tears because I feel so much guilt in that statement. It’s not that I don’t want to enjoy my life; it’s just that sometimes it feels impossible.
As a new blogger, sharing my personal experience with bipolar disorder has opened up the conversation on mental illness. Many can relate and empathize. To those who can’t relate, I hope sharing my story still gives you an opportunity to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
I recently found out I am pregnant. I spent my previous pregnancies completely unmedicated. The severe depression I experience because of the lack of my antipsychotic drugs and mood stabilizers was debilitating.
Fortunately, I have found a psychiatrist who is willing to work with me and monitor me carefully, so I can still take my meds.
Bipolar disorder isn’t a death sentence. I didn’t join the 27 Club, but it terrifies me that I could have.
To anyone with bipolar disorder or any mental illness, please don’t suffer in silence. While our illness may be invisible, we are not. I see you. I hear you. I want our voices to be heard.
Don’t feel ashamed. Because at the end of the day, just remember, it’s okay to not be okay.
For more information on bipolar disorder, read the National Institute of Mental Health’s informative article.
Check out my comprehensive blog post about bipolar disorder and the blog posts I have written about many of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, including mania, depression, intrusive thoughts, and psychosis.
For a brief history of the 27 Club, read Rolling Stone’s article.
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