My name is Colleen McClory and I’m a 56 year old woman. I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 28. For over 2 decades I managed to remain stable with outpatient visits to psychiatrists and medication compliance. There were many life changes throughout those years but the manic highs and depressive lows were balanced.
My biological father also suffers with the dual diagnosis of bipolar and alcoholism. My family has dealt with these illnesses all my life so when I was diagnosed with the same disorder my mom blamed herself for ever getting involved with my father. My first hospitalization was terrifying. I ended up at Read Mental Health Center in Chicago, then through the diligence of my mom was transferred to Lutheran General. I spent about 3 weeks there (‘til my insurance ran out). I had been paranoid, hallucinating and manic. I learned that I had been self-medicating by drinking in order to sleep.
At 28, I started a company thinking I was going to be an entertainment agent and traveled to Los Angeles, CA to make that dream a reality. At 54, I started another company to do the same thing thinking I was older and wiser. True examples of grandiose thinking. When I was 54 I would binge drink and not take my night meds because, in a twisted way, I knew I shouldn’t drink when I took them so I chose the alcohol -big mistake!
These activities spiraled into acts of spending wildly and sexual promiscuity – some more classic manic symptoms. In December of 2018 I attempted suicide. I was feeling hopeless about financial struggles and work stressors and felt it would be my only solution. After I got out of the hospital, things were still not ok. I didn’t hit rock bottom until I lost my job and stopped almost all social interactions. I stopped driving my car and stopped eating which led to a weight loss of almost 100 lbs. I was neglecting almost any self-care.
I’m currently living in a residential facility that supports transitioning to independent living. I work at a job that I love! I look forward to seeing family and friends and going to social events, especially those involving any type of music. I write poetry. I’m a member of a church near my work. I’m a very active, social person and I’m enjoying life again. My mental illness does not define me! Sure there are good and bad days like anyone else, but when I realize things are getting too high or low, I now use my combinations of meds coping skills and therapy to get me through the next day. I now value every day I’m alive! The power of prayer and positivity my friends! Peace out.