“Thanks to a very loving and understanding partner, I was able to work through more of the anxiety I felt.”
My struggles with emotional and mental problems began at age 12, when I experienced my first nervous breakdown. At age 20 I was diagnosed with major depression. By the time I was 30 that diagnosis had changed to chronic major depression with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Later, ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) were added to my diagnoses. At age 40, and after three suicide attempts within two years, my therapist began to suspect that I suffered from bipolar disorder. After lengthy testing, it was determined that I did indeed have bipolar, and my medications were changed accordingly. I found some relief in knowing why I behaved the way I did and having medications that seemed to make a difference.
My relief was to be short-lived, however, as a man I loved very much committed suicide by hanging eight months later, and I was the one to find him. For the next six months my life went into a tailspin of intense pain and sorrow over his death, complicated by the divorce I was going through at the time. The posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) I suffered as a result of his death took over my life, and it became almost impossible for me to function. Brushing my teeth, combing my hair, taking a shower, or fixing meals were almost insurmountable tasks most days. Gradually it got better and I was able to leave my apartment. I started doing things with friends again, but I still felt safest at home.
Thanks to a very loving and understanding partner, I was able to work through more of the anxiety I felt and start living a somewhat "normal" life. This relationship was to last for a year and a half and it was instrumental in helping to bring me out of the shadows.
This fall I enrolled in college again and began work on a second undergraduate degree, double majoring in multimedia/web design and computer graphic design. I still have difficulty concentrating, an exaggerated startle response, and problems with feeling worthless at times. I find myself becoming irritable when I don't live up to my own expectations and angry about being afraid to develop a new support network of friends. I am fortunate, though, to have a very large support network of online friends who are also survivors of a loved one's suicide. This group has been very important in keeping me alive for the past three years. I also have a psychotherapist I respect and admire, who works hard with me to unlock the mysteries of my mind.
I have been blessed with two sons and a daughter-in-law who are the most precious people in my life, and their belief in my ability to succeed is a driving force. Even