August Warrior – Alleah

August Warrior – Alleah

Hello lovelies! Welcome to our August Warrior of the Month guest post.

I’m very excited about our August Warrior, Alleah. Alleah and I met in the VMA program at NAIT a few years ago. She’s such a sweet girl and I am happy that she agreed to do a guest post for me. While she always seems like a happy girl with a gorgeous smile, she has her demons. Like myself, she suffers from Bipolar Type II, as well as OCD. As someone who can totally relate, I am thrilled that she is brave enough to share her story with you guys. Read her story below:

Throughout my life, I’ve always been dramatic, moody, and sensitive. Situations that my friends were able to overcome were very difficult for me. Breakups, conflict, and failure felt like the end of the world. I would obsess over things, and I was unable to forgive myself for my feelings. Sometimes I thought about self-harm and suicide, despite the fact that I never wanted to die. It was so confusing for me, and I wondered if everyone thought like this.  I could never tell if I was just attention seeking, or if this was a genuine cry for help. I always brushed it off.

When I started college, I alternated between periods of depression and periods where I would feel social and buzzing, almost high. I had a difficult time focusing, had bad driving anxiety, racing thoughts, and struggled with exams. I was told that I had generalized anxiety disorder and started taking anti-anxiety medication. I felt a bit better. When I started my second year of school, I started partying a lot, exhibiting promiscuous behaviour, and became so social that I never really even gave myself time to rest. I created huge plans for my future that I would never really act on. I had so many unfinished projects going.

I started to notice that I would crash hard after my good periods and get depressed again. These mood changes hindered me so much that I started doing badly in school. I was already bad at exams, but I was either feeling too high and social to spend time studying to my best abilities, or too down and I was unable to absorb any material. My studying habits were strange. I always needed everything to be perfect before I started, and I wanted to incorporate creativity into my studies so badly (I was studying quite a science-based and practical program) that I was never very productive. I failed my second year, but was determined to keep trying. I did a bit better my second try, but not enough to get me past the grueling practical exam I had already failed.

On my third try, I failed for the last time. It sent me into a dark place. I felt remorse, regret, self-doubt, and excruciating self-hatred. I was hospitalized after an attempt at overdosing on pills. My family and friends saw this as a cry for help, and I tried some new anti-depressants. The same cycle started again. After healing and working through my depression, I started coming up again. I became ambitious to a fault, creating grandeur plans that I would never pursue. I was always shooting above my comfort level because I wanted everyone to know that I was capable and intelligent. I hated the thought that people may be judging me for my academic failures. I ended up getting a job in the service industry, which was stressful, but very fun. It catered to my social side, and I felt happy, although I did still become depressed every couple of weeks.

The restaurant industry was perfect for cultivating another few months of partying, drinking and never sleeping. I was a social butterfly, and although I adored the friends I made because of this, some of my behaviours were toxic. I felt like my mind was moving too fast, and the intrusive thoughts that I always had as a kid and teen were still present. I had a hard time controlling the voice in my head, and I either felt like I was amazing or loved, or that I was a useless lump who didn’t deserve to do the things that I enjoyed. I was confused that I felt this way even though my life was happy and fun.  One night, I felt super angry and volatile. Something minor had set me off, and I saw red. I couldn’t control the voice in my head and had little control over my mind. I ended up being hospitalized again. I was terrified and struck with absolute confusion, because I never wanted to die. I felt so ashamed of putting my family through an experience like this, and I made them promise to never tell anyone.

Finally, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type II and mild OCD. I now understood why my mind was the way it was, and although to this day I still feel very embarrassed about my hospitalization, I feel more comfortable being open about my mental health. The bipolar disorder was causing my extreme mood swings, and the OCD was causing my weird rituals and intrusive thoughts. I was put on a mood stabilizer and taken off anti-depressants, which were contributing to hypomania. I am still experimenting with dosages of lamictal, and may even try a different medicine in the future, but I no longer think about suicide or self-harm. The depression that I still occasionally carry with me does cause me to be lazy and unmotivated, but I am working at getting better.

Since being diagnosed, I have still dealt with hardships, such as a sudden disheartening medical diagnosis and my parents’ separation, but I have overcome both with so much more grace than I would have in the past. I am so proud of myself for overcoming these things without completely spontaneously combusting. I was even able to make some peace with my past failures. I still deal with symptoms such as dissociation, confusion about what is reality and what is not, and some depression and hypomania, but I am able to recognize why I am feeling these things and control how I work past them. I have a stable job where I still get to use some of my college experience, despite not finishing. I have a stable relationship, and a supportive group of family and friends. I am feeling less anxious about my future, and I am ready to work towards going back to school for something I am passionate about, creating independence, and picking up new and old hobbies. My impulsive self has learned a bit more patience and self-love, and my depressed self is usually able to come out of a slump the day that I feel it. Emotions are good. Vulnerability is good. Although those things have hindered me, they also make me an empathetic, romantic, and passionate person; and for that I am grateful.

 

How inspirational is this girl? Wow! Alleah, thank you for your bravery and strength in sharing your story with me and my readers. Coming out about your mental illness is never easy and I am honored to have given you the platform to do so. Keep fighting girl! You got this.

Stay tuned for more Warrior of the Month posts.

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