By Karis Maguire
I grew up in a home where I was home-schooled. I had no friends. My entire childhood was spent alone in my room playing with imaginary friends. I didn't know how to act, how to talk or how to make friends. It felt like there was always something wrong with me and I ended up being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at a young age.
I experienced manic episodes and depressive lows. Manic episodes are intoxicating. During these chaotic episodes, I almost always acted out. I engaged in dangerous activities and hurt people around me without regret. Mania is like addiction. My drive to continue to “feel good” became my primary purpose in life, which inevitably generated insatiable amounts of chaos. Later in life in my manic behaviors progressed. I ended up having multiple affairs without regards to my partner. After the stimulating allure of the mania wore off, I would crash into dark and depressive bottoms. I would spend days, if not weeks on the couch. I wouldn’t eat. I simply could not live.
When I drank for the first time, I felt like I could be whatever I wanted to be. I felt social, attractive, alluring. I had a newfound ability to make friends. I had arrived. I didn't need to think about anything. My thoughts were my greatest liability and drinking allowed me to escape the vicious cycle that thinking can create.
After 12 years of using drugs and allowing my Bipolar Disorder to remain untreated, I finally hit a wall. I was naked and alone. I couldn't stop using dope.
What had I become? Where was I? Who was I?
These were the questions that I couldn't even answer. I was lost and ready to face surrender, in this moment of clarity. I was ready for something different.
I have been saved today, all due to my program of recovery. Sobriety saved my life. After a tremendous amount of growth and work, I get to live a life of joy, happiness and freedom. For the most part, I feel that I belong in this world. I get to know who I am today. I live in the present. I get to be myself. The gift of acceptance has allowed me to embrace my Bipolar Disorder and my addiction. I know that they are aspects of me; they do not define who I am in my core.
I wake up today and get to experience love and friendship. I get to sit and be quiet with myself. I don't have to spin out. I have found a friend that never goes anywhere and I get to enjoy being me. Recovery has helped me with getting to know my true self. I don't have to be a prisoner to my disease. I can finally look at myself in the mirror.