I believe that the most difficult thing for me, at first, was learning how to "spot" my symptoms after I found Recovery. Before Recovery, everything was so muddled up in my mind that I could never identify just what was going on. I only knew that I was "different" from all the other kids (especially in high school.) No one else ever seemed to be as alienated from the others as I was. No one could figure out (any more than I could) why I was happy as a lark at times and then again become so depressed that I couldn't function. My brain seemed to be in a state of suspended animation at those times. It was hard to think, and even things like familiar phone numbers of close friends completely flew out of my mind. Once when that happened, my mother said to me, "Don't tell me you're getting stupid!" My mother also embarrassed me in front of the rest of my dysfunctional family at the tender age of 14 when she exclaimed that I had a moustache! OK, it was peach fuzz there on my upper lip, but having dark brown hair did not help the situation. Remarks like that from loved ones only made the illness harder to bear.
My parents divorced and I lived with my grandmother, who would say quite often that she was "too old to have a kid around." (She really was, being in her 70's. My mother worked for the government in St Paul and other towns that were fairly nearby. She came home on weekends and holidays. I also had an aunt and two uncles ho felt it their responsibility to be my judge and jury.
I really believed that I had no hope of ever living a "normal" life. Imagine how surprised and relieved I was to discover during my first hospitalization years later, that bipolar disorder stems from a chemical imbalance. True, it went untreated for such a long period of time that behavioral and other problems were inevitable. It is also genetic; both my father and mother had periods of depression. My father took care of his with a bottle of booze (or so he thought); it only made him more depressed. My mother's took the form of almost constant fatigue. The living room couch was the first comfortable place she would find to hide herself in, even after she had only gotten out of bed a short time before. Actually, sometimes she never bothered to get out of her robe. Sounds a lot like my own habits and attitudes. It was during those times that I developed the self-consciousness that led to what I now know as "fearful temper." I always felt embarrassed because of how I "acted," intimidated and really verbally abused by the very people I thought were supposed to love and care about me.
Despite those tumultuous years, the stress at home and all the times I missed classes, I did graduate from high school, mostly because I excelled in the subjects I loved (English, spelling, grammar - and of course I could type like a demon on those old manual typewriters, especially when I was in a manic phase) Luckily, shorthand came easy for me too, and as a result I've had excellent jobs throughout my life. After I found Recovery, I finally learned that there is no hopeless case.