I was a difficult child, I admit that. It is here that the story begins.
My story starts when I was three-years-old. I was an extremely intelligent and bright child, but also very stubborn. This wasn’t just normal stubborn, however, but a violent and explosive demand to do what I wanted when I wanted. I began seeing a shrink shortly thereafter and was diagnosed with Oppositional-Defiant Disorder. I didn’t have ODD however. This misdiagnosis pattern would continue for many years and my parents and I would run the gamut of childhood mental disorders. I was OCD, ADHD, ADD, depressed, etc…which called for many medications. By the time I was 9 years old I was taking or had taken Ritalin, Paxil, Clonadine, Adderal, and Adderal XR.
Fast forward to age 15 and I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and the drug Risperdal was added to my cocktail. I was supposed to consider my diagnosis a blessing (“You’re lucky they caught it so early” as if I had cancer and I could be cured). I felt like a zombie though. In fact, I don’t remember a great deal of high school at all…or much of age 9 to 22 for that matter.
When I was 22 I decided to take a radical move. I wasn’t entirely sure that I needed all that medication. My boyfriend, Jon, knew I didn’t need all that medication. So together, Jon and I weaned me off all the drugs little by little. It was a miserable, awful week of withdrawal but Jon and I weathered it together. And now I’m ok…I’m still here.
I did not have a mental illness after all. I was just a stubborn kid with a jealous streak who turned into a angsty teenager.
Now that I can think clearly, I’m me again. I’m outgoing and I approach people and talk to them, instead of “turtling”. It’s amazing to be me once more. I can’t help but wonder, though, where I would be today if I had never been on the drugs in the first place. I didn’t need them and I feel like they held me back. I probably would have more friends from high school and college. I’d probably have a Bachelor’s degree and maybe even a Masters. On the flip side, I probably would not have met Jon. I probably would not be a veterinary technician. It will do me no good to think about the “what if’s” but I must instead think about the “what now’s.”
Even after all the drugs and doctors, however, I don’t hate the psychologists or the medication. Looking back on where I was, I understand why my parents thought the medication was a good idea. I WAS miserable, and they were trying to help. I can’t blame them or anyone else for trying to help give me a better existence. I might not remember a lot of those days when I was on drugs, but the ones I do remember were happy.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I still have my bad days but now I find me giving myself private pep talks to ward off my fears and anxiety. At age 24 I’m finally happy.