Thursday, May 9, 2013

My name is Dawna and this is my story...

When I was asked to write this, I didn't have to think twice about it. The first answer that came to mind was absolutely, yes I will, but before I do so, it needs to be said that mental disorders or diseases of the mind are no more shameful than diseases of the heart, the lungs or any other organ of the body. They are just harder to comprehend, even by those of us who suffer from them. 
My name is Dawna LeMay and ten years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety and OCD.
The first thing you need to know, is that I never would have taken the first step to see a psychiatrist to
get a diagnosis if it wasn't for the fact that I had a 4 year old son at the time and it was about 6 weeks after the death of my mother, who I had cared for, for four years. He was doing some silly thing that 4 year olds do and it was just more than I could take at that moment, and I sat on the staircase, literally ripping hair out of my head,crying and repeating, "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you." Words my son doesn't remember, but I will never forget. That even at this moment bring tears to my eyes.

Over the next year I went through extensive therapy, covering everything from sexual abuse by an uncle, a brother and a family friend, to the sometimes abominable way my own mother treated me and disrespected me growing up, causing me to question her love, almost right up until her dying day. An abusive relationship in my teens and a close call in my twenties...the cherry on top being in the position of playing 24 hour caregiver to the woman I still wasn't entirely sure loved me, but was certain that this was the one way of earning that love. Watching her slowly die for 36 months, spending long days in hospitals and longer nights at home struggling with whether I hoped she lived or died. I suppose you can understand where the PTSD comes in now?

Now, put that PTSD on top of some Bipolar. (Which is a condition both of my parents were diagnosed with. My father, back in the day when it was still called "manic depression" and my mother in her early 40's) I was told I was "rapid cycling." If you ask my son what that means, he will tell you that it means: "You'll be having a really funny conversation with her in the kitchen and she'll be making up her hilarious lyrics to songs while she's making dinner and by the time you're finished eating she will be sitting alone and want nothing to do with anyone." Yeah...that's rapid.

 I have been out of therapy and off medication for 8 years. A year after my mother passed and I had gotten myself more together, I moved with my son to CT to live with his dad and we finally got married. I weened myself off my meds and thought everything was going to be fine, since I was removed from all the things that were "triggers" for me.

However, over the course of the last several months I had begun to notice myself having less and less of my "highs" and they didn't last as long. My "lows" were coming more often and lasting longer. I was drinking more often (which was a big red flag for me, because I am a BIG TIME self medicator!!) On "Ash Wednesday" I went to the psychiatrist. On "Good Friday" I had my last drink
and on my grandfather's birthday (god rest his soul) I began trying to put my life together once again.
It is very important for people to know that there are so many places out there to get support. With todays technology you just type in the word and you have thousands of links to choose from!

If you suspect that someone you know is in trouble, talk to them, maybe you can encourage them to seek help, or even convince them to talk to their primary care physician who could advise them. Mental illness doesn't just go away over time (as I am finding out). Mental illness is very serious and very seriously overlooked. Many times because there are still so many who attach such a stigma to it.

I was asked if I wanted to post anonymously and I said that anonymity didn't matter to me. Helping matters. I don't care if my name is attached to it or not. But, if it isn't attached, I don't want anyone to think it's out of shame. I am very proud of everything that makes me who I am, including my struggles. Without my struggles, you wouldn't recognize my triumphs. <3 

No comments:

Post a Comment