K.W. age 15

from Greensboro, NC

It started when I was about 13. That is when I noticed the depression. When I started 7 grade, it became worse. I hated school because I was made fun of the weight I gained from certain medications I was taking. I had panic attacks, would hide in the bathroom, cry or sleep during class.

I ended up having to leave school, because I would call my mom everyday wanting to go home. A teacher would come to my house and tutor me, but I was so depressed that I hardly ever did my work and just barely passed. In my 8 grade year I was sent to a B.E.D (behavioral and emotional disorder). school where I would be with kids who had problems similar to mine, but I hated it there. I acted out a lot and ended up failing that year, because I slept through it all.

My second year of 8 grade wasn't so great either. I was sent to a group home and became bulimic and suicidal. I would get so angry at times, I would hit anyone who crossed my path. One day, I hit two teachers and a student and they locked me in a room, until my group home manager came and got me. I was in and out of hospitals four times within two years, and nothing seemed to work. My experience in the group home was horrible. I felt the staff wasn't properly trained and let us do whatever we wanted.

I ended up running away constantly and hooking up with guys, because I was so impulsive. We even had guys spend the nights in the Group Home. There was a lot of drug usage, too. I was finally removed, when a resident tried to set the house on fire.

My stay at the home was short. In June, I was sent to John Umstead Hospital for a seven month residential treatment program. When I arrived, I was still cutting myself and was in denial. I felt nothing was wrong with me. I remember one time I was put on assault precaution because I was very stressed out and no one would listen to me. I ended up fighting four different people.

I loved it there though, because I was 'slowly' getting better and it felt good.

After seven and a half months, I was released, and I felt like a totally new person. I've been at home since Dec. 31 and I am a lot better. I go to a regular school now. I still have some incidents, but I've only been suspended once. I try not to let my anger get the best of me anymore.

I still feel really horrible sometimes, but I know it's all part of being bipolar. I wanted to thank you for your segment on bipolar kids, because I feel so alone all the time even though I have a loving family and friends that support me. Hearing those kids share their stories was wonderful and we had so much in common! You don't know what this means to me, and I'd love to help you spread the word about bipolar disorder. Thank you.

Looking back, what could have been done at the time to improve the situation? Treatment, medication, a different approach, or understanding from others around you?

I wish more people would understand the bipolar illness and how it effects whoever has it. I don't think there was anything I could've done differently. All I can do now is educate people about my illness and hope they at least try to understand.

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