My Story - by The Bipolar Bandit‘My Story’

by ‘The Bipolar Bandit’

My name is Michelle Hughes and I started suffering from severe depression at the age of thirteen.  I would just cry and cry for no reason, and I could not concentrate or do simplest tasks like vacuuming. I would miss two weeks of school at a time.

I had a severe manic episode at the age of seventeen that resulted in a hospitalization.  It was during the month at the hospital that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

I was always a good student and high achiever.  After missing two weeks of school, I would make up all my work in two to three days.  It is now thought that those were mini manic episodes that enabled me to do that.

I got mainly As in school, was the president of several clubs in high school and graduated from college with a degree in elementary education.  I was the manager of a movie theater, a trainer at Walt Disney World, and taught school for about ten years.  I was even named Teacher of the Year in 2004.  I am not telling you about these accomplishments to brag, but to make you realize that even though I had this mental illness, I was still able to achieve a lot.

I have been hospitalized more times than I can count.  Although most of the time it was for psychiatric reasons, I was also hospitalized several times for ailments that were thought to be caused by the medications I was on for bipolar disorder.  I had pancreatitis, my gall bladder removed, numerous stomach problems severe enough for hospitalizations, tardive dyskenisia and heart problems bad enough to put me in the ICU.  The worst was when I developed dystonia and my chin was “stuck” to my chest for about four months.  I was really lucky this was not permanent.

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After being in the hospital for various reasons sixteen times in one year, I was forced to stop teaching and go on disability.

I have always tried to fight for the rights of the mentally ill.  I am also on a mission to fight the stigma of mental illness.  I have written numerous letters to politicians trying to change the way those who have mental illnesses are treated.

I fight the battle every day.  I mainly stay somewhat depressed, but am mostly worried about the manic episodes.  The last time I was hospitalized was for ten days and that was about four months ago.  I keep fighting the fight, although some days it seems hopeless.  I have a strong support system, a loving family, and a strong faith, and am determined to rise above this illness.  These things help me every day.

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