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In a depressed state...
...I'm usually frustrated with life in general, and everything gets harder to do. It seems like I'm carrying something heavy, and I'm always tired. Sometimes I get really mad, too. A good example of a situation like that happened in 1996 about half a year before I was diagnosed with having bipolar disorder type one. I remember sitting at my computer and writing this letter to a good friend of mine while crying so much I could probably flood a city, not just a room like Alice did in Wonderland. I won't mention any names or irrelevant personal information for the sake of privacy.
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. The Letter
This was written when I was 13 years old.
"The problems started last year. Well, the middle of last year. It just started as neglecting school work. Not that I never did that before; I did, plenty of times. But I was neglecting it more and more. It reached a point in 6th grade (1996-1997), near the end of the year, where on my request I was transferred from the most advanced Hebrew class to one of the lowest ones. I was in a private Jewish school. That was the only class I was neglecting more than usual. Hebrew, foreign language, actually. Anyway, that neglect of school work and school turned to hatred soon after, when my parents tried to set very strict (according to me) rules. Of course, that didn't stop me from neglecting work. It turned out the usual, "No I will not do that homework!" in Hebrew, to "LEAVE ME ALONE!" Yes, a quote from me screaming at my mom. I had tons of fights. But since I lived with my mom, not my dad, she took the main brunt of the fights. I never hated her. I hated her as a parent. I hated my dad as a parent. They're both good and nice people. But I still had lots of fights.

That hatred of school soon, predictably, spilled out onto Math, ELA (English Language Arts), Music, Science (even though science is my favorite subject!), Navi (a Judaic/religious subject), and Tanach (another Judaic/religious study). I hated them all and soon refused to do the homework.


Always fighting.
I refused to go to school. Period. It was very hard for me to get up, get dressed, and go to school. I had no motivation for anything. I never had any fun in school. I never even learned anything.

Of course, they (meaning my parents and grown ups in general) knew that my main source of fun and enlightenment, even, was the computer. Specifically speaking, AOL and my friends there.

I think that's why they didn't just "take the computer away." So, just like a military strategy, they placed the computer under a sort of boycott. I had to finish all homework, cooperate in class, do all schoolwork blah blah blah before getting the computer back. Of course again, it got worse. They decided that I needed the computer. Either that or I was just really good at deceiving them of it. I'll tell you it's the former.
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Panic Attacks
Things got a little closer to normal when the computer was mine again, but only until 9:30 PM on weekdays and 11:30 PM on weekends. A fair deal, I said. Well, almost fair. Then one day out of nowhere I had a panic attack. It was a Tuesday, I think, around the beginning of the end of school (I'm not sure of the month...I'll get back to you on that a little later). I don't remember it so well, but I do remember this: I felt very shaky, and couldn't control a lot of my movements. I had the pins and needles sensation in my hands and arms. I was hyperventilating. I had a splitting headache. I felt dizzy and I felt really weak. Turns out I also had the flu (or if that's not correct spelling, then I had influenza). I spent half the day in the school office sitting down. The cots were all taken up by others. I spent about 4 hours just sitting, feeling nauseous, staring at the floor watching the world spin around me. That was a really bad day. Anyway, after that I had a revised schedule. On Monday I would be at school at 9:15 and leave at 12:25. Tuesday would be the hardest day. I would get to school at 11:30 and leave at 4:30. Yes, 4:30 was the normal dismissal time! Wednesday: I'd get there at 10:00, and leave at 2:15. Thursday: Arrive at 10:00 and leave at 1:30. Friday: Arrive at 10:00 and leave at 1:30. It was much shorter than the regular day.

Roller-
coaster
It helped. The modified schedule helped, but not the way they wanted. My homework was never done, but my school work was. And I was also coming to school without too much difficulty. Being there was another problem though. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays were not so hard. I hated being at school, still, but I could manage. I left out Tuesday for a reason. Tuesdays proved to be the hardest days by a lot. It was the longest, but only by 45 minutes. The problem was, I think, in the way the classes were arranged. I'd get there and immediately rush to Math. Then I'd have a half hour Lunch and Supervised Study (a half hour of basically doing what homework you have or other school-related things). Then off to Art. Tuesdays always had this big dark feeling. And most of the bad whether days were on Tuesdays. They were usually rainy and cloudy...and always felt "evil" for some reason.
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Body and Mind
By Art, my body was already failing me on most of those Tuesdays. After Art we had a double period of Science, meaning Science for one and a half hours straight. The Science teacher was the most strict teacher (that I went to) in the school (that's also only in my opinion). I should point out that I no longer went to any Hebrew classes (I knew the language well enough), went only to two Tanach classes a week, one Navi class a week, two TSBP classes a week, and I went to every Math class in the week, every ELA but one in the week, every Science class, no Music, and the only Art class in the week. After the Science class I went to ELA. Then, at 4:30 I was released (and I said "released" on purpose). Seeing how this did not help with my hatred of school, I returned to therapy with an old therapist I knew. I was in therapy before because of my parents' divorce, which happened to be timed so nicely so it was at the age when I could feel the most confused, angry and hurt from it all. My brother was too young to understand what was happening--he was only a little baby--so he wasn't so hurt from it.

The therapist I went to was nice, but in one month of returning to her (after five years not in therapy) I decided to quit, because all that was doing was wasting MORE of my time. Time that could just as easily be spent using the computer and being online for the few hours I had left each day. Well, then we tried to go to a psychologist. The ones who give out drugs. Like Pro-Zac.

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Pro-Zac didn't exactly work.
I was seen by one. He gave me a small dosage of Pro-Zac to take each day. It had not only the correct effect on me, making me less depressed (which I was beyond belief), it made me jolly. So jolly, in fact, that we quit Pro-Zac because I still wasn't doing any work and still hated school. I just joked about it now. There was only difference in my behavior, not my attitude. So we were stuck. What was left to us now? We could try many other doctors, and we did try, but they all said that they couldn't see me because of some health insurance something or other. Interpretation: They wouldn't get paid a lot, so they didn't see me.

Still Mis-
diagnosed
Back at school, things were easing up. No, rather, I was easing up. I suddenly started to go to school without ANY reminder, presence of another person, nothing. I just went. I never had fun, but I went. On the flip side, those panic attacks started getting worse. Not more frequent--I only had 3 in total--but worse. The next time it happened I was in Art. Yes, a Tuesday. Again, I couldn't control more or less what I was doing. I mean, I was jumpy, jittery and anxious at one second, or tired and exhausted and depressed the next. I was dizzy, I had a splitting headache, I had that same pins and needles feeling, and that same feeling of weakness. I got out of Art and asked the Director, "May I leave now?" She said that I should "Sit down right here and I'll be back in a moment." Well, she brought the school psychologist with her. I went down with him to his office. He asked me the regular questions like, "How do you feel," which I responded to with, that's right, my medical symptoms. He also asked me questions like "Do you think you're going to die?" That may sound crazy, but it makes sense. Especially if you saw how I looked. Pale, thin (from not eating) and shaking.
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Turning Point
I was always looking at the floor. I kept seeing faces in the rug. Not scary faces, but funny, friendly faces. :) Some of the faces were goblins and dragons...but they didn't seem frightening in any way. They always seemed to be smiling, if even a mischievous sort of smile, it was calming. Other faces were normal human beings, some people with no hair, some with tons of hair. Others with large eyes, some with small eyes...all kinds of faces--all in the rug.

Whatever.... The outcome of that little chat we (me and the psychologist) had was that my mom came to pick me up and go home.

We also got the name of a hospital and a study people were doing on kids like me, that have the same problem in school as me. We applied there for an interview.

In the mean time I had read Ender's Game. The book really opened my mind to questions. Seriously. Everything I looked at now generated a question in me. Why is glass clear and steel isn't? How come there are solid materials, when, in essence, all things are made up of tiny atoms floating around inside the surface tension of whatever the object is. What about pressure. Creases on paper--are the atoms folded? I had billions of questions.


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... What was so much worse about today is that this Tuesday I didn't go home early or anything. I "didn't let the stress out." In other words, I bottled up all the tension from the day at school. When I came home, I was supposed to go to the supermarket to buy a few things. I came through the door and bluntly said, "No, I will not go to the supermarket tonight."

Well, the next thing I knew my mom had asked how my day was. I said that it was terrible. I came to my room, switched on the computer, and turned to see that my mom had followed me. I remembered my homework assignments and then added, "I'm not doing my homework either."

She answered, "Well, maybe not now--"

I interrupted her. "NO! I won't do it! Period!" I was screaming.

"If you don't do that, well, you won't do other things--", she replied, glancing at the computer. The term "other things" meant AOL and the computer, of course.

"NO! NOT AT ALL!" My throat was already sore from screaming so loudly. "GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE!" She stood at the doorway to my room. "GO AWAY!" I shouted.

"I know you've been through a lot..." she started to say. She continued through my screaming, but I don't remember what she was saying.

My throat was hoarse. "NOW! LEAVE ME ALONE! LEAVE ME ALONE!" She wouldn't leave. Instead, she continued looking from the floor up to me, repeating things that I couldn't quite make out. I was crying now. I jumped out of my seat and lunged forward, ready to strike at her. Half way there, though, I turned around, screamed "GO AWAY!" and sat back down. She finally left.

My hands and face were soaked with saltwater. I couldn't stop crying. I had probably let my stress and anger be cultivated inside of me, till the slightest spark could start the fire. I leaned forward, put my head in my hands and cried more. The worst Tuesday I ever had.

Then I came online, read your letter, and started writing this."

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