Bipolar Disorder: From Tot to Grandmother (Non-Fiction)


This is an overview of my life from when my Mental Illnesses first showed up til now. It has spanned my whole life.

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My name is Tessa and I was born back in the mid 1950’s. Mental illness was not talked about then. Shhh, mommy had an aunt commit suicide many years ago. Shhhh, daddy has depression and alcholism. Shhh girl don’t talk about what you feel like or ask what is wrong with you. WE don’t talk about that. Don’t you understand?

I was a small child and something was definitely wrong with me. My mom gave me tranquilizers as a baby to keep food in my stomach. I didn’t sleep all night. Whenever life went wrong mom was there with a tiny pill to calm me down.

When I was around seven or eight years old I spent everyday getting yelled at for not going to sleep at night. I told them I wasn’t tired. I could NOT sleep. I didn’t need it. This would go on for months and then I would be depressed and not want to get up. I just wanted to be left alone with a book, but no, we had to fight over it and in the end I was shoved out the door and told not to come back until I was called. I was terrified to be out there.

I was not a bad child. Though I understand I threw some memorable temper tantrums and wouldn’t breathe. A glass of water was thrown in my face to shock me out of it. If I got hysterical crying and laughing I was smacked across the face to snap me out of it.

Looking back now I can see the signs of Bipolar Disorder and anxiety at the very least. As I approached the teen years it got worse. They still tried to force me to sleep. I didn’t sleep and got up everyday and went to school. Then would come the depression and emotional times. Right as clockwork.

My parents were frustrated, but didn’t know what to do. My mom used her little pills to calm me down as necessary.

As a teenager, that is when things did become a bit worse. When told to stop talking at school and I wouldn’t they would make me change seats. I did it with much noise as I stamped across the room and slammed my books on the desk. My teachers complained to my mom and she would just ask them to change the other child. It would be much easier on them. I still do that today when I am mad. I slam things.

Then I lost it and had a mini breakdown in German class. My brother was in the same class. I yelled at the teacher that she wasn’t teaching us anything and the class was worthless. We didn’t know it, but these incidents were Bipolar Disorder related.  I could be the sweetest thing in the world and then the devil took over. After the teacher talked to my mom it was decided to put me in study hall. My poor brother was stuck there.

Then my boyfriend who had just came back after I broke it off with him, told me that we have sex or we’re breaking up again. I was in a terrible quandary. I was 17 and I was taught it was wrong before marriage and I was afraid of my parents finding out. However, I couldn’t face another breakup so I allowed it to happen. He messed me up even more emotionally and I turned on him and didn’t want him to ever touch me again in any way.

In the meantime  I met someone else. He wouldn’t date me until I dropped the boyfriend and I was very willing after what he did to me. Well things didn’t go as planned and when I told him I wanted to break up with him he offered marriage. He knew I was emotionally easily manipulated and then threatened suicide if I didn’t say yes. I couldn’t take it and be responsible for that and I had to say yes.

Now if I could see the future I would have known that I married a Narcissist, but we were just 17 at the time, going on 18. Against my parents wishes, we got married at age 19 and had our first child at age 21.

Yes he did touch me occasionally and eventually I had three children. Those were the happiest days of my life and marriage.

Marriage continued to make me unhappy. He became obsessive and manipulated me all the time. My wants and needs were not considered important. I dreaded his touch. It disgusted me. In my mind he raped me. It was worse than physical rape would have been.

I worried there was something wrong with me and one night he tried to touch me and I flipped. I told him do not touch me! You look at me like I am a slab of meat. I hate it when you touch me.

That started my years of mental illness treatment. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and the medicine parade started. I couldn’t take them.

When I started changing and becoming stronger he wanted me to stop. He was losing some control. He was embarrassed that his wife was seeing a therapist. He wouldn’t come with me. He claimed it was all me and he had no problems.

I knew the only way out of that marriage without him trying suicide, was for him to want to leave. One night he lost it and I almost called the cops. He was screaming and carrying on about me leaving and yelled that he would commit suicide first and he went out to his truck and it was the coldest night of the winter and I only had a night shirt on, no slippers. I was out there barefoot in the snow and ice and no coat trying to keep him from shutting the truck door. His mind had snapped.

Finally he snapped out of it and saw me and we went back inside. He would not discuss it.

I wanted to be with another man to see if there was something wrong with me. I didn’t want to cheat on him so I told him I wanted an open marriage. He could do whatever he wanted and with whoever. There were rules. Safety rules for one. Plus we had children and they needed to be kept an eye on.

Eventually he broke the rules. I found out he was lying about where he was going and that the woman was lying to him about her and her husband wanting to swap spouses. Her husband knew nothing about it and demanded a divorce when he caught them.

Perfect for me. I wasn’t the one who left. He ruined the marriage and no committing of suicide. Not even me. He was watching me and waiting for a breakdown. Wasn’t happening. I was getting what I wanted. It sure hasn’t been easy, but I am happier.

After the divorce I had visitation rights to my 12 year old son. At 16 he demanded to live with me. He told his father if he said no he was running away he wasn’t staying there. I got my son back at age 16.

Did things go easy? No, they didn’t. I was getting worse from my un-medicated Bipolar Disorder and having problems with my jobs. I started therapy and then one day I was deeply depressed and didn’t want to spend the next 25 to 30 years living like I was.

I tried to commit suicide. I was unsuccessful and committed for 9 days and started on medications again. This time though I had someone who really took the time to try different things and she stayed away from the new drugs which I already knew I couldn’t take. I am on an old mood stabilizer and one of the only new drugs I hadn’t tried. I have been stable for 5 months now.

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