Before I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I was misdiagnosed with Major Depression when I was 16. It was my very first episode, and it lasted for months. I started self-harming and began to have suicidal thoughts.
Let me back up a bit. I was a varsity swimmer. Breaststroke was my specialty. I made the Varsity team by the time I was in eighth grade, and when it wasn’t summer training or the fall swim season, I was on the local YMCA competitive team. Between competitive swimming and playing violin in our school’s chamber orchestra, which involved traveling for musical performances, I stayed busy. I loved what I did. I loved swimming. I loved performing Saint-Saëns and Bach and Mozart. I was happy.
But something happened the summer before 10th grade. It was early on during summer vacation; summer swim training had just started. My best friend’s older sister was having a graduation party. I was in a rush; I’d just gotten out of swim practice, and I was rushing through the house to get changed so I could head to the party. I had a bad habit of walking over my bed, as it took up most of my small bedroom. Being in flip-flops, I tripped. My foot or sandal got caught in the sheets of the unmade bed, and I went flying across the room and out the door. I broke my right ankle and sprained my left.
I missed the entire summer training season. My cast was taken off at the end of the summer. I swam the fall varsity season, but I was so incredibly behind. My competition times were terrible. No matter how hard I trained, I couldn’t swim as fast as I used to. Frustration and the first signs of depression began to creep in. The season ended, and as the weeks passed, I grew depressed more and more. I gave up on swimming.
Finally, after months of cutting, I was contemplating suicide one night. I had a bowl of vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles and was sitting on the floor in my bedroom. As I was thinking about different ways to kill myself, I took a bite of my dessert. “This ice cream is good,” I thought to myself. Breaking down into tears, I realized that if I died, I’d never be able to enjoy ice cream again. At that moment, I chose to live.
I didn’t have another episode until college, when I had my first manic episode. Sadly, I ended up attempting suicide for the first time at 21. July 25th, 2020 was the one-year anniversary of my second suicide attempt. I celebrated being alive with ice cream and sprinkles. I’ve learned to appreciate all the amazingly wonderful things in life that I get to enjoy because I’m still alive. Live music. Cooking a delicious meal. Watching a favorite movie. I’m happy to be alive.