Finding My Way

By Stephanie P.

My mind's journey is bipolar in nature as it has taken me through the depths of sheer hopelessness to the heights of indescribable vision. 

photo of Stephanie P.

Life leading up to high school graduation day was a time of meeting expectations. Fortunately for me, I grew up in a safe haven blessed with a supportive family, dependable friends, devoted teachers, and dynamic coaches. This nurturing environment and my inherent makeup marked by intense drive, aggressive temperament, and a keen sense of compassion for those around me contributed to my successful path.

As a freshman in college, I felt like a small fish thrust out of the bowl and into a fast-moving river. Almost three months into my first semester, overwhelmed by constant negativity and extreme homesickness, the relentless downward spiral took hold. My being was essentially transformed into a dazed zombie with a disorganized mind. I was unable to take care, let alone acknowledge, the most basic of needs. A Major Depressive Disorder diagnosis soon followed, as did an extended hospital stay and a grueling year-long struggle to return to a high-functioning status.

Purpose renewed and back in school, I was granted a three-year term of “stability” until the unthinkable happened. In the summer of 2001, my dad passed by suicide. My response to this horrific tragedy, characterized as a manic episode, prompted intervention and the official Bipolar diagnosis.

Adapting to new medication took time, but I managed to graduate from college and find stability in work. Thinking that the worst was behind me, I decided to move across country for graduate school. The tremendous change in every aspect of my life triggered another episode. This third episode quickly snowballed into a severe manic/psychotic break, for which hospitalization with police escort was required.

After the mania subsided, my spirit took a beating in that I was functionally depressed for over a year. Withdrawing from graduate school, I was forced to discontinue the path I had set for myself. Truth be told, I am still searching for the next step, but in doing so I have come to terms with this thing called Bipolar. It is not who I am, but it is how I would describe the wide spectrum of emotion within my range. Despite this illness taking both my dad and years of my young life away from me, I am sincerely thankful for the insight gained and amazed by my mind’s miraculous journey.