Hi! My name is Richard and for years I thought I had Bipolar Disorder. Can you blame me for thinking that when every doctor I met during my dark and depressed teenage years diagnosed me with that disorder? Who was I to tell a doctor that he was wrong? I had mood swings and I was depressed. All I wanted from my doctor was medication to stop me from feeling like I was dying on the inside. The doctor knows best, right? At least that’s what I’ve been told.
In October 2021, my close friend Gabriel told me not to get mad at him (I assured him I wouldn’t) and told me that he talked about my symptoms to a friend who was a doctor. He told her about my mood swings, my ‘I’ll cut myself if you don’t reply to my text’ threats and my black-and-white point of view of this world. His friend agreed that I wasn’t suffering from Bipolar Disorder and she suggested that I have Borderline Personality Disorder.
Gabriel told me that he wasn’t trying to go behind my back and tell people my business. He apologized many times and I told him that it was, ‘All good.’ But everything wasn’t ‘all good.’ It definitely bothered me that he told someone else about my personal issues even though that’s exactly what I do through my Twitter page. Gabriel told me I should do some research, and I hesitantly said I would.
The first thought that came to my mind when Gabriel told me about his discovery was, ‘I’m Bipolar. I have Bipolar Disorder. That woman doesn’t know what she’s talking about.’ As you can see, I’m incredibly defensive when it comes to my mental health. Even though I was a bit sceptical at first, I’m glad I ended up doing some research because it explained a lot about some of the symptoms I was having that didn’t fit with Bipolar Disorder. All of the anxiety I experience, coupled with my daily various mood swings, come from Borderline Personality Disorder.
SELF-MEDICATING WHILE LIVING WITH BPD
Living with Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t easy, to say the least. Being in public makes me paranoid and I feel like everyone is looking at me. I have to resort to pretending that I’m talking on my cell phone to alleviate my paranoia and anxiety. It may seem a bit ridiculous, but hey, whatever it takes to make things a bit little easier for myself.
I use drugs (weed, liquor, and something called molly (ecstasy in a crystalline form with a higher level of purity) to help with my anxiety and mood swings. But being a person who can’t do anything in moderation, I only end up hurting myself. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’m addicted to weed.
I went back to my home town Birmingham to visit friends and family last October and that’s when my mood swings and smoking habits got out of control. I went out to eat with a bunch of my friends and the only thing on my mind was running to the bathroom to cry my eyes out. I was dealing with a mood swing and I was dying on the inside.
I later told my friend Angel about this and he asked me, “Why would you do that? You still felt that way with everyone there for you?” I just looked down at the ground and said, ‘Yeah, I still felt that way.’ It doesn’t matter who’s around. Nothing was going to change the fact that I felt like I was in hell.
During my trip back home, I spent £250 on weed. This may not seem like a big number, but when you’re only visiting for three weeks it is a bit exorbitant. My addiction to weed has led me to do things I’m not proud of. I’ve spent money on weed when it should have gone towards food, rent, and other living expenses. I’ve also stolen weed (and Molly) from my roommates. Yeah, I was that hooked.
I went to my kitchen, put on my headphones, and started listening to music. Then I started to drink while taking a few hits of Molly. A few minutes passed by before I started to experience what drug users call a “bad trip.”
I’ve never felt so alone and empty. The only thing I wanted in that moment of darkness and vulnerability was love. I also wanted to take a knife and stab myself. I never ended up following through with the latter. And looking back on that night, I should have never left my friends and gone home alone.
I should not have taken anything. I’m not surprised though; I tend to do the opposite of what is good for me when I have a mood swing. Why? I don’t know. I think my friend Elaine said it best when she said, “Richard, you’re a smart guy but you make really stupid decisions.”
I’m now on my way to living a drug-free life, and I couldn’t be any happier with my decision. The withdrawal symptoms suck, but I know I have to stop smoking before things get out of hand again. Besides, I’m the happiest guy in the world. I don’t need drugs anymore.
TRYING TO FEEL BETTER
Ever since moving to London about two years ago, my personality and confidence have been magnified and enhanced to a degree I could have never imagined. This newfound confidence and positivity have definitely helped me in dealing with my anxiety and mood swings even though there are times when I feel overwhelmed.
During these times, my new-found confidence and positivity don’t do a damn thing for me. That’s how strong my mood swings are. The best way for me to describe the pain I get is for me to say that it’s paralyzing. I shut down mentally, physically, and emotionally. I hide behind my phone and I avoid all human interaction. You will literally see me on my phone with my face glued to the screen while my friends around me socialize. That’s how overwhelming my mood swings can be at times.
DEALING WITH ANXIETY
The other day at work everyone was called into the conference room while I was in the bathroom. As soon as I stepped out of the bathroom, one of my co-workers told me to go to the conference room. I said, ‘Are you serious?’ I wasn’t mad or anything, I was just in a rush to go on my break and write. I stepped into the room and I immediately knew I was going to get a crazy amount of anxiety. Luckily for me, I had a cup of water in my hand.
I used my cup of water as a defence mechanism. Anytime I felt overwhelmed or anxious I took a sip of water. Each time I did this, I was “hiding” behind my shield (my cup of water). This helped relieve my anxiety along with sitting beside my co-worker Sarah. She may never know it, but every time I would ask her a question (e.g. Who’s this birthday cake for?) it was to relieve my anxiety. At one point I was taking a sip of water and I noticed my hands started to shake due to the anxiety I was feeling. I just did my best to ignore it.
Even though I had a lot of anxiety during this brief moment, I was still smiling, laughing, and singing happy birthday to my supervisor along with everyone else. After the singing ended I immediately left the conference room and I headed outside to go on my break.
Once I got outside, I smiled and laughed at myself. I do my best to take things in stride and for the most part, I can usually handle my anxiety. But I do have my moments where I’m overwhelmed.
GETTING THE RIGHT DIAGNOSIS
Comparing my life when ‘I ”had” Bipolar Disorder to my life now is like night and day. When I thought I had Bipolar Disorder I was in and out of hospitals, I cut myself 11 times over a period of six months, and I spent the entire month of November last year drinking myself to sleep because the pain was unbearable. I went back on medication for a month because I was extremely close to killing myself. I relapsed pretty badly.
Fast forward to my life now and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I never thought any of this was possible, and I’m literally living my dream. Even though I get mood swings on a daily basis and those same mood swings make it increasingly difficult for me to quit smoking weed, I’m doing my best to cope.
I don’t take prescribed medication because I prefer to live with pain, happiness, and anger than to be numb. Where’s the fun in that? What’s the point in living if you can’t feel anything? I’ve gone nine months without cutting myself and it’s something I hope I never do again.
Anxiety and mood swings are something I am going to deal with for the rest of my life. With everything I’ve gone through since moving back to London I’m more than confident that I will be able to handle whatever comes my way. It won’t be easy but I’ve made it this far. There’s no turning back now.