May Warrior – Rachael

May Warrior – Rachael

The first thing I want to say about my next Warrior is, WOW! This beautiful young woman reached out to me on social media saying she wanted to share her story in the hopes of raising awareness. I knew that she had Bipolar Disorder, like myself, but I did not know the extent of her past and the amount of resilience she has had in her life. I am HONORED to share her story with all of you.

First off I’m a 25 year old mother to two special needs children. I’m a student. I am a sister. I am a daughter—of abuse and neglect. I am bipolar type one. I am panic disorder. I am anorexia. And I am ptsd. Secondly, notice how that sounded weird? You aren’t what illness you may say or think you are. Your illness is separate from you. Yes, it is part of you. But it does not define you. Let that sink in. So let me correct myself, as I hope you do too; I have bipolar disorder type one, I have panic disorder, I have anorexia and I have ptsd. And this is my story.

Growing up I was a highly sensitive smart child who showed anxiety very early on but had two abusive neglectful parents. They ignored the signs and physical symptoms of anxiety. They ignored the stomach aches, the heart palpation’s, the sweats, the excessive worry and so forth. Not having a safe place from the physical and emotional abuse lead to the desire to control everything and or some cases, lose control of everything.

So puberty and pre-teenage years roll around but so does restriction of food, mood swings, binge drinking and high risk behaviors with a large amount of self harm. Then a suicide attempt at only the age of 13. A hospitalization followed for 7 days in a children’s psych ward. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type two. My parents wanted a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis and the same diagnosis was given. I was almost transferred to a group home because of the abuse but I was terrified to tell the truth when it came down to making an official statement. The use of therapy and medication for treatment was started with the second opinion but treatment quickly fell through the cracks. And I relapsed into old habits, same toxic environment and the same place I was before hospitalization: depressed, suicidal, manic, substance dependent and self harmed.  

I spun out control for a few years and lost everything. I lost my safety. My security. My entity. Myself. I drank out of control until I was obliterated, sick and blacked out. A boy who I thought I could trust saw an opportunity to sexually assault me. So did another boy on a separate occasion. And so did another boy also on another separate occasion and then I finally woke up; although it was me waking up traumatized and terrified, I said enough was enough. I stopped drinking cold turkey. However, when I realized the extent of what happened to me, I became scared of men. I became scared to leave my house. I became scared of eye contact. I became isolated. I became afraid of sex. I became afraid to sleep because of nightmares. I became afraid of my body. And I became afraid of life.

Fast forward to sobriety and motherhood with traumas still in tow. Drinking seemed to be a thing of the past. But another demon showed up, one called Ana or better known as anorexia. However this slipped under the radar from everyone around me because what new mother doesn’t want to lose the baby weight. What started off as healthy calorie counting turned into obsessive calorie counting. Safe foods and unsafe foods developed. Times to eat and times not to eat appeared. Controlling everything food related hid the anxieties of being a new mother, anxieties of bills and generalized anxieties that developed previously and continuously. 

Then, another pregnancy occurred 3 years later and the topic of gaining enough weight was a huge concern the whole pregnancy. I gained enough for doctors to relax a bit but they wanted me to gain more. After the birth of my second child I began restricting more severely than before. Then drinking happened a few years after. And guess who showed up once again in full force: bipolar episodes. The rapid cycling of mania and depression were happening on top of symptoms of unknown ptsd and panic disorder. In June 2018, I had another suicide attempt that I wasn’t

hospitalized for because I convinced the person closest to me at the time I was fine despite reckless behaviors, heavy drinking and self-harm.

So then in October 2018, I finally started therapy with the realization my mental health was out of control. And a week into therapy twice a week, it triggered memories. Which led to another suicide attempt that I was hospitalized for. I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder type one, ptsd and panic disorder. It’s been a lifetime of mental illness, traumas and challenges as you can see but I now have a lifetime of supports to deal with my illnesses. 

I take medications to get through life which I’m still learning to be okay with. They make me stable and offer solace from chaos most days. They aren’t perfect nor bullet proof. I still have episodes of depression and mania, although they are shortened. I still have sensations of panic and feelings of what feels like I’m going to die that make me want to hide from the world but I’m able to rationalize them most days. I still have days of restriction and binging but I’m at a healthy weight after years of poor health. But lastly and most importantly, I am still here. I’m still fighting. And so are you and you are not alone. Things may never be perfect but they can be better. So I share my story in hopes you can realize things change, you will grow, you will hurt, you will feel an assortment of emotions, and you will live life if you work through the hard times. I hope after reading this you can allow yourself to experience life to the best of your ability with the supports that are there to help. We’re in this together.

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