Bipolar Disorder by Kristi Laughlin

     My name is Kristi and I'm a twenty-one year old living with bipolar disorder. Before I was diagnosed, I thought that there was no one else in the world going through what I was going through. I had never heard of manic depression or bipolar disorder. When I was fifteen, I suffered extreme bouts of anger, getting extremely violent towards my friends and family and sometimes even towards myself. I would wake up some mornings, hell bent and on a war path for no apparent reason, genuinely feeling like the entire world owed me something. I made miserable the lives of my parents and younger brother, treating them in a way that no loving family should ever be treated. When I wasn't manic or psychotic, I was extremely depressed. I would lay in my room with a blanket nailed over the window, wearing the same clothes for days on end, not eating and feeling completely disconnected from the world. I was hopeless and pathetic.

     I began to experiment with drugs, as many people with bipolar disorder tend to do. I grew quite fond of cocaine, doing it almost the entire day everyday. I loved the false sense of contentment that it gave me while I was high, but when I would come down off it, I would experience the worst psychotic episodes of my life. I literally wanted to die.
     Once my family began to realize that their daughter was going through something much more serious than teen rebellion, they had me see a psychiatrist. Sure enough, the doctor prescribed me medications for bipolar disorder (a mood stabilizer, an anti-psychotic, and an anti-depressant). The meds made me feel very withdrawn and zombie-like. I began refusing them and after a violent manic episode, was hospitalized. This went on for about a year, getting in and out of the psych ward and getting on and off different kinds of medications. Nothing worked for me. I began to lose hope for a normal life.

     One night, over at a friends' house, a blunt was passed to me. I didn't think twice about it and hit it. Within a few moments, a sense of peace and well-being spread through my body and mind that I had not felt for years. The feeling of comfort was so intense that it almost had me in tears. I knew I had found a way to live a normal life.

     The next time I saw my psychiatrist, I told her that I had began smoking marijuana to alleviate my symptoms and that it had been working like a charm. I told her that I felt like myself again for the first time in years. I was ecstatic. She, on the other hand, was not too thrilled. She told me that marijuana was a harmful drug and that I only thought it was helping me because my judgment was clouded (literally). That was when I began to do my own research and take my disorder into my own hands.

     That was all about six years ago, and since then I've tried over ten more medications to get my disorder under control with no avail. I haven't taken any meds for about a year and a half now and have been smoking about a gram or so of marijuana a day. I am so proud and happy to say that I almost never experience any symptoms of my disorder. I am a happy, energetic, friendly, motivated young woman. I'm almost finished with college and I have a wonderful relationship with my family. Without marijuana, I would not be where I am today. I feel truly blessed. Marijuana literally saved my life.