My first suicide attempt was when I was nine years old. I have spent my entire life dropping into the depths of darkness, wanting nothing more than to be dead. But depression and bipolar disorder were taboo subjects. If I had cancer, I would have sympathy, flowers, fundraisers, and hugs. My disorder is secret, unmentionable, and invisible. 
I was not diagnosed until I was 47 years old- bipolar I with psychotic features, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Over the course of my life, I have taken twenty different medications that have not worked and one that has. Lithium keeps my moods balanced. 
One year into therapy, I crashed and landed in the hospital. Throw “treatment resistant” in front of my diagnosis. I made a drastic decision- I went to a University hospital with a “treatment resistant mood disorder clinic” and started electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). A treatment made popular by the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” After, I felt happy for the first time, ever. 
It creeps up on me silently and unexpected. I had been feeling so good – maybe too good. I should know the pattern by now. Hypomania (or even full-blown mania) leaving me feeling high, invincible, and elated. Then there was the fall from above deep down into the deepest caverns of my mind. All I could think about was finding my box knife, going to the gun store, or gathering up all my pills. It was time to set up an appointment for ECT.
I liked ECT, now that I have gotten used to it. My last few times the nausea and vomiting were lessened. The routine of it all was comforting in itself. First, the shot of the muscle relaxer and the insertion of the IV. My favorite part was going into the treatment room and lying on the bed. The anesthesiologist would start to do his thing while the psychiatrist would ask a few questions. Then the nurse would come in and hold the oxygen over my mouth. I loved the high from the oxygen. Then the meds that would put me to sleep would be injected into my IV and off to sleep I would go. It was my second favorite part – that moment between awake and asleep and being able to feel the moment of moving from one to the other. Of course, there was one injection I disliked, always given while the psychiatrist was asking his questions. I always felt it hit in the depth of my belly. Almost a falling feeling, sliding down the bed, out of control. 
While I am sleeping, the psychiatrist induces two seizures using electroshock therapy. I wake up with an intense headache and plenty of vomiting. I suffer from some amnesia and struggle to form new memories right after the treatment.
I am now three weeks post ECT. My mood has been pretty good – even hitting those hypomanic invincible stages. I can tell there is a pattern now – my mood lifts the most two weeks after. It is not perfect. Even feeling good, I become suicidal and a danger to myself. This time, though, I fought through it– and I made no new additional appointments yet. So far I am still alive. I am still happy.


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