My world came crashing down in 1997. I had been successful in business for years managing my symptoms as best I knew how. Sleep was occasional, and endless hours of work were the norm. I had been divorced for 5 years and a single mom of two girls. It was an early morning at the office and my phone rang about 7 a.m. My insides began to shake and my mind raced past my ability to comprehend what was happening. Within an hour I was on my way to a mental hospital in Columbia, South Carolina.
My 7 day visit at the hospital brought me into a world I never knew. They gave me a room with no mirror and only a blanket and a sheet for my bed and one small dresser to put away my clothes I brought with me. Men and women surrounded me with obvious diagnoses and symptoms I began to recognize. It was at that moment I knew I had a problem. The triggers came and went as I sat there watching people rock back and forth, scream and lose control. I recognized the behavior, but in a different environment. My life flashed before me over and over again.
The doctor, with students from the medical school came to examine my mental state. They drug tested me and used hypnosis to calm my nerves. Within 15 minutes, my world experienced a paradigm shift. The word bipolar would now be the new me. Not the woman I created over the past 15 years of working hard, having a family and all my hopes of a future were wiped off the surface of my dreams. I was told I would never have any quality of life again with the medications I would now have to take the rest of my life.
That was 22 years ago. Since then I have had a successful career in real estate investing, owed several small businesses in various industries, and just graduated college at age 56. I’m also a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a friend. I learned many years ago as a child that I would have to learn to cope with life and to change the world in order to change my circumstances. Today I can say I’ve done all I could have ever wanted to do with my life and I’m free to be me, with a label of human.