Jessica hails from Syracuse, New York presently and is a very inspiring lady, dealing with serious mental and physical health conditions for many years. She shares her story living with bipolar illness below and also helps others who are stuggling with bipolar or other issues on her Facebook page: Mental Illness Support. Give it a look!
1. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank You for giving me the opportunity to share my story. With May being mental health awareness month I’m trying to do anything to get awareness for mental illness out there.
My name is Jessica & I’m 26 years old from Syracuse, New York. I was first diagnosed at age 14 with Bipolar Disorder, Severe Depression, Schizo-effective, Borderline Personality Disorder, General/Social anxiety Disorder & OCD.
I always knew something was off about me, I was always the “loner girl”. in school when all the kids were playing I was sitting by myself with the teachers on the picnic tables. I never was social even as a child, it got worse as I got older.
When I was 14 my whole life changed & my mother got remarried causing me to act out. I didn’t deal well with change (who does). One minute I’m living in a place where I have been for 9 years & the next I’m being ripped away to live with people I don’t know nearly two hours away. This definitely had an impact on my life, it brought my illness out I believe.
2. What events led to you receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder?
Mental Illness runs in my family on my mothers side. My mother was diagnosed with Bi Polar Disorder in her thirties. At about age 14 I hit my lowest point. Months leading up my Mom was going though another divorce & she had just started a new relationship so I spent the majority of my days alone.
I was very withdrawn, most days I didn’t even go to school. Every one & anyone annoyed me, completely. Sounds were louder than usual, my body would ache & I wasn’t doing any physical activity. On a beautiful day I would be held up in my room blaring music I wouldn’t normally listened to. My mom being a nurse knew that I had the bipolar gene in me. She suffered from mental illness & so did my biological father (whom I didn’t have a relationship with).
My mom had her own issues going on in her life & her way of trying to make me happy was getting me a puppy. After we got our golden retriever Bailey Lee I was happy for about a second then I went right back to depression. Even a puppy (A Puppy!) couldn’t make me happy.
One night after just feeling overwhelmed with sadness I went into the bathroom, took a razor out & slit one of my wrists. I remember walking into my Mom’s room while she was running on the treadmill with blood streaming down my arm crying hysterically. Within seconds my Mom grabbed my arm & pushed me in the car & had me admitted to the emergency room.
It was then I was admitted from St. Lawrence to Syracuse Hospitals in a matter of three days. Then I was sent to St. Lawrence Pysch for nearly 6 months. It was then I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Schizo-Effective, Manic Depressive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder. General/Social Anxiety Disorder & OCD.
3. If you don’t mind, can you share how old you were at the time of diagnosis and what type of bipolar illness you have i.e. Bipolar I Disorder (BP-1), Bipolar II Disorder (BP-2), Cyclothymic, etc.
I was age 14 when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar 1 & 2. I have periods of severe mood episodes from mania & depression to alternate periods of severe depression. As I have gotten older the episodes of mania have increased as well as the depression.
4. Do you have other diagnosed medical conditions besides bipolar (physical or mental)? For example, I have fibromyalgia and deal with chronic fatigue. I also have a form of subclinical hypothyroid. All of these have affected my bipolar states and when treated successfully my severe bipolar illness states (psychosis of mania, suicidal depression) improved much.
I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polystitic Ovary Syndrome) at age 12. This has effected my moods & body. My inability of possibly never being able to have children has effected me emotionally (drastically). My lifetime dream is to become a mom. To hear that may not be able to happen effects your mindset & depression seeks in.
I also was most recently diagnosed with IBS (irratable Bowl Syndrome) which effects my depression & body. I can’t do things that the typically person can.
5. Now for the good stuff! What things – medications, vitamins, therapy, books, alternative treatments, etc. – have helped you to not only survive this difficult illness but thrive in your life?
Since I was 14 I have been on lithium, my dosage has increased throughout the years but I’m not sure where I would be without it. I have been on many mood stabilizers but lithium by far has given me the strongest effect.
In my past therapy hasn’t always worked for me so two years ago I invented my own therapy, www.facebook.com/JessieLee.Support. You can click on that link to learn more.
Being able to help people that are struggling with mental illness has been my biggest recovery. For many years I felt alone with my illness, then I started this support blog & I realized I am not alone. To see all these people that are in need of support & not getting it in their “real world” made me think “well I need to change this”.
No one should have to live with a mental illness & feel all alone. Suicides happen everyday, to think how many attempts I have had on my life just for the simple reason I felt like I didn’t belong in this world, I had no one. We’re loosing people to suicide simply because we’re being misunderstood & people think they’re alone!
6. What advice do you have for others who may be overwhelmed by the symptoms (hypomania leading to impulsive behaviour, rapid cycling mood changes, hospitalizations due to severe depressive episode or a manic episode resulting in psychosis…) and feel discouraged or without hope?
To all of you that just feel lost, feel like no one understands you, believe it or not you are not alone. During my most darkest times I felt like I had no one, I was ashamed of what I was living with. I felt like a failure, I felt like I didn’t belong on earth, like I was invisible.
I could be screaming in a crowded room & no one would look at me. I fought for years in silence, until one day I got tired of fighting. You don’t ever have to fight alone, your not in this alone. If you are ever feeling like the only way out is to end your life, THINK AGAIN!
Reach out for help to anyone you can trust. Believe it or not their are people in your world that love you for you. Please know that you are worthy of every thing life has to offer. Don’t give up, not ever!!
– Jessie Lee
I am saddened you dealt with so many difficult issues at such a young age – that in itself makes your story of survival and triumph all that more impressive! Congrats!
All kids have struggles, but when it drops down into ‘serious illness’ and sucide attempts like you share above it becomes tragic in a way. We all deserve to live healthy, productive lives.
It is excellent that lithium has helped you – many, many others have had their bipolar successfully treated with lithium (made me fatigued). I love your Facebook page – Mental Illness Support – and will be following, probably stealing a few posts and reposting on my FB page LOL! But will give you a link, of course.
Best of luck and will stay in virtual touch via FB. Molly
Photograph courtesy of Jessica, all rights reserved.