Dying in Silence, Speaking to live

In 2009, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. A diagnosis that would forever change my life and the lives of others around me. I am swallowing my pride and reaching out to everyone today, because I have struggled for so long, I’m exhausted and I truly need help. Some may judge me for reaching out on this type of platform, but I am at a loss as to how to recover from the past several years of literally losing everything, including, but not limited to my marriage, my children, my business (and literally, my mental well-being for a long time).

What the raise is for: I am asking for the funds today to help me get a reliable car so I can travel to work and to my ongoing treatment. My treatment and medication is very costly. In one month alone the medication can cost up to $300. I need to cover some of my very basic needs. Eventually I would like to sustain enough to hopefully have a place for me/my kids again.  Once I am financially stable again,  I want to publish a book that I have already started writing to help others who struggle with this devastating diagnosis. I would like to travel to reach out and speak to groups and individuals to help everyone who struggles with Bipolar Disorder or anyone who has had to deal with watching a loved one struggle.

I also want to pay it forward, so for every $25.00 donated, I will give $5.00 to the Suicide Crisis Center who continues to save lives. Anything that you can give WILL help. I have literally been negative in my bank account on almost a weekly basis after pay day, so even the smallest donation would be appreciated. Also, please feel free to share my story. We are all affected by mental illness and maybe this story will help save a life today. The road to recovery is a long one, but the road less traveled is worth traveling. Suicide does not stop the pain, it just passes it along to your loved ones.    As you will see once you read the rest of the story, my struggle has not been an easy one. My continued treatment is essential!

I have suffered in silence for many years, because I have been ashamed of the mental illness that has robbed me of everything and it left me clinging to life. To better understand this devastating illness, which I can only described as the worst depression you can imagine multiplied by five, I wanted to share a passage I wrote to the extent I have experienced it:

“What day is it anyway? Why did I have to wake up? God, please let me go. I cannot live with this pain. Please, let me die of a broken heart.”

I am in immeasurable pain. I can physically feel the depression - it is crippling. My mind flashes back to better times; my marriage, my beautiful children, a lovely home and a thriving career. Why was I not grateful? Why did I always have a need for more? How did I lose it all? These thoughts plague my mind breaking - what is left of me.

I look at the clock it is 4PM. I do not know if I have the strength to walk the short distance from my room to the bathroom. I feel like I have already died a million deaths. The hot water pouring over me is the only reminder that I am still alive. I feel lost in hell. Depression has battered my heart and my body and its crushing my soul. My knees grow weak from the anxiety. I step out of the shower and fall to the floor. I am too weak to move. I cannot recall the last time that I had a meal. I lay on the bath rug in a towel. I am on my back looking up.

I pray, “God please take me now or help me create a miracle. Please God give me a sign that I have a purpose.”

With that I crawl back to my room and into an empty bed. Empty that is how I have felt most of my life.

Today, I pray that you all will hear my story and not only choose to help me, but also help others who have suffered in silence. Although those of us who suffer with bi-polar disorder appear to be physically well, we are not well mentally and we most often suffer in silence. You cannot see it, but bi-polar disorder is debilitating and without proper diagnosis can become fatal, as I almost experience many times before I was properly diagnosed and correctly medicated, which is an entire other issue. Many times, family and friends do not understand what appears to be irrational behavior and disorganization, which are symptomatic of the illness, which causes alienation and severed relationship, due to lack of education . There are many families that walk away, stay in denial and as the path my family has chosen to take, loved ones often times turn their backs on someone that is in perilous situation of crossing a fatal line, resulting in suicide. Suicide and Bi-polar Disorder are commensurate and should be taken very seriously. If you know someone who is suffering from this devastating illness, PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP ON THEM. You may end up being the only person they have in life that loves them.

If you are reading this please know that I have suffered severely from this illness, very severely - for nine years. Over the past nine years, I have been hospitalized over ten times and I have personally experienced and witnessed the horrific ways in which mentally ill patients are treated. Every time I was in the hospital, I would lose something.

The first time, I lost my kids, which has been the greatest loss by far. I have lost well over $100,000 in income, while incurring hundreds of thousands in medical bills, only to be dragged through a flawed system. Each time I had an episode, each situation grew more severe in nature. Below is a picture of my kids two weeks before my first hospital stay and five weeks before custody was awarded to my ex husband.  ONE THING I CAN NEVER GET BACK IS THE TIME I LOST WITH MY KIDS!

My Battle

My family thinks I am being manipulative, but there is nothing manipulative about wanting to die. In fact, I have fought so hard for my life that I have decided if I give into the pain, God will forgive me because I would not be killing myself - the Bipolar would be killing me. I was not diagnosed until I was 33, so I remember being “normal” which can be one of the hardest parts. I had a thriving career and was very active in the community and with my children and I was able to give back to my community as I often have done.   

A little over one year ago, as a final attempt to get the help that I desperately needed, I made an appearance on “The Dr. Phil Show.” They were able to lead me in the right direction. I was treated at The Hanley Center in Florida. In the three months that I was there for treatment they were able to get me the proper diagnosis and on the road to recovery. Recovery is hard and it is a daily battle. I have been very consistent in my treatment, and I have also been blessed to have worked with some of the greatest doctors in the world. This has allowed me to become healthy again, and remain fully committed to my treatment.

What many did not know is that when I got back from the Dr. Phil show, I literally had NOTHING left. I did not have a car, I did not have clothes, I did not have a home and I was on food stamps just so I could eat. Fortunately, enough for me I did have a friend that was gracious enough to take me into her home, where I still live while I am trying to regain my financial stamina. I also had an ex-mother-in law that was willing to give me a car, so I can travel to and from work. I am a loyal, dedicated and hard worker, and I always work hard, sometimes to my detriment. Many people may think that Bipolar people are lazy and try to make excuses, but that is not always the case. We battle each day to just survive, often with suicidal thoughts that almost never give in, unless we are properly medicated. Words cannot describe the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that I have had to endure, as I have had to decide between gas to travel to work and food (I lost the food stamps when I finally secured employment). I stay up at night wondering if I will end up homeless like so many others with my illness. I have had to live in a constant state of worry and fear. The financial stress that I face is almost as bad as the disease itself. I am mentally healthy now, but I am financially depleted. It can be hard to separate the depression of the disease from the situational depression of being so financially depleted.

As many of you know, I have been very blessed to help thousands of people in my lifetime. I want to climb back up the financial ladder, so I can be an example for my kids and help educate people on this terrible illness. My goal and my passion is to save lives and I can do so, but first - I must save my own.

I cannot even cover my basic needs at this point and I need help financially to regain my strength/confidence and financial stamina. I want to be the victor and no longer the victim!

Today, I am at a low and I am asking for everyone’s help, no matter how small the amount. I simply cannot fall much further or allow myself to give up. The car that my ex-mother-in-law gave me broke down on Monday evening and I had $40 left for the week. I could not even afford to have the car towed and certainly cannot afford to repair it at this point.

As I sat in my car crying and feeling a crushing feeling of loneliness, I contemplated suicide yet again. I got out of my car and headed towards a rail road track. I did not want to live. The thoughts of my children were playing in my head, along with the letters that my daughter wrote me while I was in treatment begging me not to end my life and to get better. I thought of how much they would miss me, but I also thought they may be better off without me. As I headed towards the train, I got a call. Possibly a life saving call from my friend, Cynthia who was there to help. Cynthia has been my rock and even as I see her struggle as a single mother she is always there to help me.    

I cannot stress enough how hard it has been to share this story. If I did NOT need the help right now, I would not be sharing my story. It is hard to be this vulnerable. However, it is also a bit freeing as well. I no longer have to suffer in silence.

Remember mental illness does not have a face...Reach out to someone today you know may need this story.

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Amber Rodgers 
Lewisville, TX
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