I am Christina,
I Live with Bipolar...
“But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their STRENGTH renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; the will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.”
As far back as I can remember, we lived in the surrounding rural Eureka, MO area. My parents separated several times, leaving my brother and I to move on multiple occasions. I still recall the motorcycle rides through the hills of the area, with my dad, to spend the weekend with him. Then the flood of ’81 happened, the Meramec River came out of the banks and Times Beach was wiped out. I didn’t live there but my father worked in the small town and everything was a loss. Within two years, we moved to the city.
My emotions were hard to control. My mood swings were all over. The tantrums, I couldn’t express myself, I didn’t know how, only to cry and scream into my pillow. You see, all this is very close to me, my mother suffers depression. Growing up she was known for manic depression, what we now call today, BIPOLAR. So, on top of my own issues I was fighting, I was dealing with emotional turmoil of my mother on top the broken marriage of my parents.
THE TRIGGERS - From an early age I was molested. Family friends, I don’t recall. My parents did what they needed to rid me of the situation. Then there was the babysitter. She was a High School student. I can still vividly remember the details. I was 6. My parents were not aware. I was scared. I was told, if I would tell she would hurt my brother. He was 5.
THE MOVE - I hated it. I missed my friends. I had no new friends. I was teased at the new school. I was put down. The principal and teachers made me feel like I was not worthy. My mom gave me a birthday party for my 9th birthday right after we moved to help, only the girls in the class felt forced to come. Even with a smile on my face, it was a painful day. I suffered Anxiety, Depression, and Panic Attacks on a regular basis.
In high school, things got harder. New friends, new school with old grade school friends. I put a distance between old grade school friends because I needed a break, I needed to find myself. I needed to learn to stand on my own two feet while dealing with a very broken home life. I found an avenue to release the pain, by self-inflicting pain. I didn’t’ eat, I over exercised. I had to have a boyfriend. I would push one away and fall back into another relationship. They were toxic, for the most part. Nothing worked, I still felt the overwhelming emotions of worthlessness, hopelessness, lost.
College came, I was moving away from it all. I was told to maintain a 3.5 or I was coming home. I found a new release for the pain I was feeling, I turned to smoking and drinking. I was running on thin ground. Then the worst fear of mine, being away from home, being a young girl, having a variety of friends and being raped. It happened. I was raped. It was not a drunk night. It was not a party. It wasn't someone I didn't know. It happened on a weekend trip home, to visit friends. Date Rape. Someone I knew, someone I trusted, someone I cared for, someone I loved. He didn’t listen to my cries of NO. He kept saying “it’s ok”. I cried and cried. I wasn’t the same after.
The rape lead to a pregnancy. I was at a loss. Again, my parents didn’t know. I was ashamed. I knew they thought I would be lying. I kept this secret for a long time. I attempted taking my life. A roommate reached out. I tried to get help on campus. But it didn’t help, my grades kept falling. I had the pregnancy ended. I was 18 and alone and scared. The dream of becoming a teacher since I was 7 years old was ruined. I did return for another year away at school however, I couldn’t bare the pain and came home after two years. That was in 1995.
FAST FORWARD - 1997, I met an amazing young man. On our first date we went back to where we met. We drank and laughed. He dropped me off and I asked him in. I didn't want anything. He didn't expect anything. We sat up talking until 3:30 in the morning. I had to work the next day, Sunday. We both talked of our childhood, our college years and moving into the working world. I felt a connection and for the first time in my life I felt SAFE. I spoke of my college years as if he were there . He never batted an eye. He never judged me. He asked if he could hold me. I cried and he calmed me. He asked me to meet him at mass the next day when i got off work. God was leading me. We married in 1999.
Our first child, a girl, was born on Father’s Day! It was the best day of my life, our lives. Deep down I was scared though. In 2003 and 2006, two beautiful boys came into our lives. With each birth the postpartum depression seemed to linger longer and longer.
Doctor upon doctor appointments. “Try this medication.” It didn’t work, tried another and then another. Nothing seemed to work. For years I was on a roller coaster ready to jump off at the top. In my late thirties I (and my husband for that matter) couldn’t take much more. He supported me. We found a psychologist. It was then, in 2017, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Depression and High Anxiety Disorders. I had an answer.
I did Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Art Therapy, EMDR Therapy and regular talk therapy. I even did outpatient group therapy. I was up and down, sideways and backwards all at once. The doctor started canceling appointments, I was on thin ice AGAIN. We moved doctors. The history of what had and hadn’t worked. had to be told all over. The changes to medications. The ups and downs. More therapy. (Remember I am still trying to raise three kids, young teens at this point.) The psychologist wouldn’t listen to me. He wouldn’t LISTEN to my concerns and troubles. We are in mid 2019 at this point.
Nothing was changing…..
August of 2019, my husband found TMS Therapy (https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation/about/pac-20384625) and asked me to look into it. I went to the consultation. I was called back to speak with the psychologist on staff. Another new doctor –but this time was different. He ACTUALLY LISTENED to me. LISTENED to all the medications I have been on, my life story, my struggles of being a mom and the over worry my children were going to experience what I had. He listened intently. He let me cry on his shoulder from across the room. He CARED. Unfortunately, thanks to the awesome insurance world, they would not pay for the TMS therapy and the cost to pay out of pocket was upwards of $12-15K. Since I had been diagnosed as BIPOLAR – the therapy only covered DEPRESSION. But Dr. C took me on as a patient. I saw him every three weeks. We worked through all the medications I had been on since I was in my early 20’s. We, HE, found a combination that worked. And today I am happy to say, “I am so HAPPY. I am HERE. I am ALIVE and I am not letting anyone DULL MY SPARKLE!
So, you see, Mental Health is close to my heart and if I can help ONE person share their story, to help ONE person find an avenue to release the pain, to help ONE person understand, what they are feeling is VALID, to help ONE person find a way, as I have, to find happiness within their life; then my hopes of Peace in Artwork has been successful.
I know this is long and I thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. I would love to hear from you. On the Contact Page I have several ways to get in contact me, you can even leave a comment on the webpage. Remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! #Don'tLetAnyoneDullYourSparkle