Let me start from the beginning. Hi, I’m Manda; and any further self-descriptions of myself make me uncomfortable at the moment due to fatigue and the ability to go days without eating.
My entire life I was told that I suffered from depression. My entire life has been hiding that diagnosis from the world because I didn’t want to deal with the “Crazy” label and drive people away – sidetone: I’m a very hard lover, and that drives people away too.
Let me start over: Hi, I’m Manda; I have a lot of baggage that one day I just got tired of living with and decided to do something about it.
Let me start over: Hi, I’m Manda; and I’m actually fucking crazy. I am one wild ride not suited for everyone. That’s it – that’s the one I like.
One warm night in July this year, I got super black out drunk (a social norm for me) only to end surrendering myself to be Baker Acted the next day at the hospital. I was admitted with a pre-existing diagnosis of depression. I was originally diagnosed depressed at 13. I saw therapists on and off for the rest of my 20’s until I was convinced was a phase and that I’d gotten over.
I would tell friends that I “used to have depression” even though I’ve been secretly taking prescribed anti-depressants for most of my 20’s. I should also mention that I had a huge binge drinking habit, in case it wasn’t obvious. I would binge drink alone at home and hide my bottles around my room so that no one ever had a clue. This went on for years.
My “Rock Bottom” moment was getting to that blackout drunk stage to where I was finally willing to admit that I needed help and baker acted myself. I will never go back to that day. That day is a constant reminder that I have the power to win. I might not find the cure, but I was not born to give up on myself.
When I started this journey to live a happy and open life with depression, I filled up two Hefty garbage bags with bottles of Jose Cuervo and Jack Daniels varying from all sizes, empty beer bottles, and folded up six pack cartons from this year alone. I had some friends – my best friends – who knew I drank a lot. All my boyfriends in this decade at some point expressed their concern about how much I drank, but fuck them; they’re pussies, right? I think my close friends just didn’t know how to handle approaching me because on the exterior I’d always have my shit together. After a while I guess they figured, “She’s got a grip on it”. To be fair, my close friends and I are all fucked up in some way. Some of them are still finding their way too, so my signs for help weren’t always that obvious.
I’d been living with what was thought to be bouts of depression my entire life. Even after getting out of the hospital I was optimistic and proactive to get better and win the life I’ve always saw for myself. It is only up to me. In other words, I have nothing left to lose on my journey to true happiness, because I honestly have nothing now. My friendships are damaged, I’m in so much debt to where I can’t finance my own dreams. There’s nowhere left to go from here but forward, because deep down I know I can have everything I’ve ever wanted. I just needed to kiss death for clarity to focus on my irregular brain.
I’m not afraid to put in the work to get what I want. I’m committed to working with my therapist, and we started to delve into it being more than just depression; something just wasn’t clicking, including my medication at the time. We started to see that my forgetfulness can be contributed way back to childhood, where they missed the opportunity to diagnose me with ADHD. An overlooked diagnoses that severe obviously created a butterfly effect of developmental, social, and mental health issues.
This blog is called The Classy Nerd because that’s exactly what I am: A nerd. A creative brain fascinated by shit, including legally being considered disabled. And because of the unknown OCD characteristics I’ve developed over years of living undiagnosed, I started keeping track of my symptoms and side effects of going cold turkey off my Effexor (The gift of forgetfulness made me forget to make an appointment to see my primary for a crazy pill refill). In the eight days running wild, cold turkey off an anti-depressant, I lost days of sleep and experienced emotions from low to high in the most extreme fashion in very quick periods in time. Although really interesting and cool, I knew I couldn’t live my life this way because the day would leave me, disoriented, depressed, and exhausted. When I saw my primary on day 8 of my withdrawals, I showed her medical assistant and intern what I tracked and we discussed my symptoms in thorough detail. They left to go speak with the doctor, and she came in right away almost frantic like a concerned mom. She said, “I think you’re bipolar. I’m going to send you to our Psychiatrist right away”. I was so relieved that I cried for days. I finally had answers to start making more progress.
There’s an interesting wrench in the system however. I’ve lived a lifetime thinking it was just depression, I’m fine now. And even though I had re-admitted to myself that I live with depression, October 16, 2017 was the day it was confirmed that my mental illness is way more severe, and that I’ve been walking around unknowingly untreated. October 18th I saw my new Psychiatrist. I’ve seen a lot of Psychiatrists, and in my experience I never felt listened to. I got talked at and thrown a drug. Never talk at me; you will insult my intelligence and I will be the biggest dick to you because of your own condescending ignorance. I might even throw a punch at you, or find another way to fuck you up. With my intelligence insulted and my apprehensions of taking meds from doctors I didn’t even like because they didn’t sit down to “get it”, I’d never stay consistent with psychotherapy. I even had one psychiatrist tell me that I seemed fine so I could quit my meds cold turkey. You are never supposed to quit any anti-depressant or mental illness cold turkey. Ever. But he was my psychiatrist so I did!
It was relieving to meet my new Psychiatrist and instantly connect with him. He wants to help me so much that he speaks with my therapist frequently to make sure we’re all doing the best we can to get me there. He is also apprehensive about medications like I am. My goal is to live a sustainable life where I won’t need to be regulated with meds. It took me 28 years alone, but we’re here 👏🏾! Mental Illness is very real, and it doesn’t go away. It requires the strength to do the work and a strong support system. I’m happy, I truly am happy and confident living out loud as a mentally ill nerd! I know who I am now. The thing is, I could say, Well I know what it is now so that’s the end of that, wash my hands of it call it a day. I don’t want that. My life had a major revelation only three weeks ago. I’m not medicated accordingly, and overwhelming PTSD has started to set in.I will require a lot of work or I might lose my life, simply. It doesn’t just end with the diagnosis. If you set a goal to lose 30 lbs. and you reach it, you can start to focus on the toning part now the the fat burning hurdle is out of the way.
With that said, I’m still not sufficiently medically regulated yet. We’re less than a month in with all this rapid information, so we’re still in the trial-and-error period. So I can’t control if my hyper-emotional brain still impulsively says, “Yeah, you might be better off dead.“, “You should go get really drunk and be self destructive because no one gives a shit about you anyway, and alcohol is your friend. And if something bad happens to you, that will show them all“. I know that they’re cognitive distortions, I can’t stress enough that I am aware, but I get stuck trying to figure out how to make the thoughts go away. The way my condition works, I get stuck. I get overwhelmed with extreme bouts of depression and anxiety so high that I get paralyzed, trapped inside my own thoughts; I have no control over this. I also “Black out”, or lose track of what’s going on in front of me because I’m stuck trying to get a thought out, or my OCD is unsettled by something. I’ve been stuck while on the highway alone at night, which was a horrifying experience. I can fall asleep in parking lots because I’m too emotionally exhausted to drive.
There are setbacks: I miss work more than I’d like to because I’m exhausting all of my options in preventing the effects of my mental illness from taking over. The anxiety of missing work has also been culminating; missing so much work because we’re still in the process of figuring out not only what’s wrong with me, but how to manage my mental illness safely. I’m forever nervous that the one day a situation like this will happen to where they say, “you know what? this bitch is crazy and it’s counterproductive at this point. Fire her.” I don’t want to give the implication that I’m taking days off to take days off. Yes, I am great at smiling; I’m a natural at attracting positivity, which is why on the outside my condition can appear so confusing. I’m fully aware that the chemical regularity in my brain is off, and there’s nothing I can do about it until we find answers.But I’m always in a constant state of what do I do to make anyone around me feel calm so that I don’t frighten them? Some days the journey is interesting, other days it is pure hell.
asked with “coming out” with my mental illness, educating all my loved ones, and my immediate family who don’t understand the disease, and how mine affects me. They’re all just finding out over three weeks too, and although they mean well, there is stigma and ignorance. I’m black and a woman, so either mental illness is a white people thing or I’m being over-dramatic because of my gender therefore viewed as inferior. In other words, I have a lot on my plate! With no help! 😅
Remember this section of The Classy Nerds website as a safe place, especially if you’re unsure to why you might be sad. I have a long ways to go now that I have a vision of the path I’ve started walking. Make no mistake that even though I’m a confident and ambitious person, I know that I’m about to walk through hell; I know that it’s a hell worth walking through now however and that excites me to some degree. I’ll always share my experiences as we all get through our issues together, no matter how hard they may be some days. I would never intend to preach, but I will have no problem using my issues to help someone else get there too.
I want my life, and I will have it. Frankly I think what I have is a gift – a power, like Jean Grey’s potential to become the Pheonix. I will use The Classy Nerd as my weapon – my adamantium claws – to fight for my life, just like Logan would do for Jean Grey.