Love Found in the Ashes

My name is Robbie. I grew up a happy kid. Outgoing, energetic, bubbly. I was a little sensitive, but nothing too bad. I had a happy life. As I became a teenager, I joined almost every sport I could, basketball, baseball, volleyball, track, rugby, football, and hockey, I was a lead spokesperson a a few assemblies and even organized pep rallies. I was confident and loved being around people.

A week before my 19 birthday I experienced a very traumatic event. I was drugged, sexually violated and life has never been the same.

mental illness stigmaA year later the pain of that night got to be too much and I pondered taking my life. Now what I need to you to know is that I didn’t want to die. I just wanted the pain to stop! In fact, I remember thinking “if can just get this pain in my chest to stop, I can breathe again.” I’m the luckiest girl in the world because my best friend showed up just as I was sitting there pondering the end of my life. She stopped me and proceeded to get me help.

The mental health nurse I went and saw asked me 35 questions. She said that I answered 32/35 and told me I was clinically depressed. She put me on antidepressants and sent me on my way. Little did she know I wasn’t depressed. I was showing signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and that I had Bipolar Disorder Type II.

While I was on the antidepressants I was numb. I felt like a robot. Gong about life just to survive, but not to live. I felt no joy, no happiness, no drive to live. I was moving and breathing but I wasn’t living. I was on them for almost 2 years before I couldn’t take it anymore and I stopped.

It would be 4 years before I ended up back on antidepressants. My Grandfather was extremely ill and I knew he would be passing away soon. I knew this would absolutely devastate me, so I called and made an appointment with my doctor. A few weeks later he put me back on the same meds that I was on before and sent me on my merry way.

A few months after my grandfather passed I moved back in with my grandmother to help her with the transition. What she doesn’t know is that this probably helped me more than it helped her. She was my rock. It didn’t matter why I was upset, she would just hold me and let me cry. The harder I cried the tighter she held me. One day while I was putting myself down while I was crying, she held on tight and whispered “I’d take your lows any day in order to be able to feel your highs.” I’ll never forget those words.

Two years later, I turned 26. My life started taking a turn for the worst. I went from being 170lbs to 108lbs! This was 100% because of my mental illnesses, however, I did not understand this at the time. I was in a good relationship, which was nice since everything else was a mess. I had two of my best friends in extremely abusive relationships, I was broke, working three jobs, and I had just unexpectedly lost a very good friend. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, and I was always primed and ready to defend. I didn’t understand what was going with my body. It was in major fight or flight mode and constantly on high alert.

I moved back home at 27 years old to try and save some money. My hypo-mania and depressive episodes were comingshutterstock_198223583 (2) quite rapidly, even a couple of times a day. I was blessed to get into counseling. I could not have gotten to where I am today without it. After a few months of weekly visits, she figured out that my diagnosis of depression was probably incorrect. My Psychiatrist diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder Type II and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

As I sit here I’m still in disbelief that I am opening up telling my story. I just started telling family members a year ago! It’s amazing what a person is capable of when they surround themselves with a great support system, including a fantastic counsellor, the proper medication, some great grounding techniques, and handful of creative therapy outlets.

I was born with bipolar disorder and that I can never have change. However, PTSD is a very confusing disorder to have, especially when you don’t know you have it. I will now have this disorder for the rest of my life, all because of that dummy that decided he wanted to have a fun night, or show off to his buddies, or whatever it was he was trying to prove that night. He got one night of fun. I got a lifetime with an illness that was forced upon me. The next time I woke up, I was not the person my family knew and loved. It felt I died that night. It’s taken me 10 years to realize that no matter what I do, I will never be able to bring my old self back. All I can do is learn to love the girl that grew from her ashes, and tell my story in the hopes that others won’t have to know what it’s like to live after being violated and destroyed for someone else’s pleasure.

shutterstock_192450863 (2)My life is not at all what I would have pictured when I was a child. I never would have pictured missing family gatherings because I just simply don’t have the energy to fake a smile and face the world. I never would have pictured my life filled with mood swings every day. I never would have imagined a life of waking up as Dr. Jekyll when I don’t get enough sleep. However, I also don’t think I could have ever imagined a life filled with this much deep and incredible love! A love for nature. A love for photography. A love for my family. A love for my friends. A love for my love. And a love for life when I have the energy to enjoy it. It’s one of the many curses and beauties of having bipolar disorder and I feel everything so incredibly deep, right deep down into my toes. The bad, but also the good! I wouldn’t change this for the world! There are so many negative things that I could focus on, but I choose to see the good in my illnesses. I chose to see the beauty. I chose to see the wonder. At least for today.

Author: Robyn Wells

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