Please Note: This piece is written solely from a personal perspective. I am in no way implying that anyone with low grades or laziness has a mental illness.
I remember back in Grade 8 my English teacher told my parents that I just “ambled” through school, and life, and if I just gave it a little more effort I would be a straight A student. The next semester I made the honour roll for the first (and only) time.
Well, what no one knew then was I already was putting as much effort as I could in everything I did. I wasn’t diagnosed with depression until my late twenties; however, they traced it back to when I was just 8-years-old. I felt like an outsider even with the friends that I had.
Maybe I was good at writing, but I couldn’t do it on command. So I would end up rushing all my assignments the night before they were due. I really wasn’t lazy, though it was just easier to let people believe that. I, of course, didn’t know what depression was.Since I couldn’t talk to anyone about how I was feeling, I just held it in and become more and more depressed.
This became the pattern of my life – I seemed to amble along well enough to just get by, but really I was pushing myself to the limit in every way imaginable. In my mid-teens, I started getting very emotional one minute and overly happy the next. My parents decided that maybe it would be good for me to go to away for grade 12 and I went back East to my father’s school in Regina, Saskatchewan. It turned out to be an even tougher experience than staying on the west coast.
I have talked about the difficulties with my parents and the school in past posts so won’t repeat it all now. I just needed to mention it for reference. What is important here is that I could see this person just getting along on the outside, making so many mistakes along the way that affected relationships, jobs, everything. But on the inside I was running marathons trying to fix things, trying to figure out why all of this was happening to me.
About three years after I was diagnosed with depression, I was diagnosed with bipolar. This was traced back to when I was 15 – 16 when I started having huge mood swings. When I was 20 or so this was put down to PMS, which was just starting to get recognition. My psychiatrist at the time (my first and worst) wouldn’t hear any of it even though I could map it all out on the calendar with my swings and cycle. Well, I did have that, but I also had bipolar.
I have worked very hard to get to where I am today – to a point where I say I have been diagnosed with bipolar and others are shocked. Also to a point where I don’t have to run 50 miles an hour inside to get my physical self to do/not do something. This hasn’t been easy and there have been some consequences. However, I am content with my life now.
The lesson here, I guess, is you should never judge a book by its cover. What may look like laziness could be depression or some other illness. What may look like someone who is crazy (or “on drugs”) could very possibly be a manic episode. It is also important to not diagnose these symptoms yourself, whether it is you or a loved one. Go to a doctor as soon as possible.
As for me, I still amble along…in the dog park with my constant companion, Violet!