In today’s blog post, I will touch upon major hypomanic and depressive episodes that I went through when I was about 16-17 years old.

It is a sensitive topic for me because of how intense my inner turmoil was at the time. That said, I tried to analyze my feelings and how I dealt with depression to the best of my abilities.

Design on the subject of intuition between parent and child made of profiles of woman and child, human eye and abstract elements

My “Sweet 16” was marked by big life changes. I was admitted to the Faculty of Law, met my lifelong friends and had depression, which I failed to hide from others this time around.

I look back on my student years very fondly. I had awesome teachers, exciting academic subjects and felt an intoxicating sense of freedom. During that time, I met my very dear friend who has been my rock for fourteen years now.

I was absolutely hyped up when I started my first year at the university. I’m not exactly sure whether it was a hypomanic attack or just a healthy enthusiasm, as my childhood dream of joining the law school came true. Attending classes and interacting with my groupmates made me giddy with excitement. Everything came easy to me. There were loads of hangouts, plans, and even research work. I invested a lot of time and effort into my studies. That’s how the first academic year flew by. My guess is that it was most probably hypomania.

All hell broke loose in the fall of 2007. My kidney problem got worse. A large kidney stone had dislodged, I started bleeding and got immediately hospitalized. Four weeks of kidney stone removal treatment, four general anesthesia within a month, IVs and ER became the first trigger.

The second trigger was me having a one-sided crush which brought me nothing but a heartache.

And then the fall season served as the third trigger.

It hit me so damn hard! I could feel my body trying to tie itself in a knot. With my shoulders hunched and head bowed down, I wanted to remain in the fetal position without moving at all.

To block out the sounds of the outside world, I would have my headphones on all the time, listening to sad songs and rock music.

As I was getting older, certain things about my condition started to become prominent. When going through a depressive episode, aside from experiencing hopelessness, pain, incredible fatigue, and emotional exhaustion, I become edgy. I start listening to heavy metal and such, swearing a lot more than I typically do and speaking harshly.

I don’t cry much but when I actually do, it’s like turning on the waterworks. My kids can’t remember the last time it happened, although it occurred often before I started therapy and went on medication. It felt as if my whole body was hurting.

That friend of mine, who has been by my side for many years, managed to pull me out of that nightmare. We were smoking, drinking and talking. She listened to me, while the songs by Splean* and Boris Grebenshchikov** were playing on the computer. I vividly remember the kitchen without any furniture, us sitting with our backs leaning against the radiator and crying our sorrows away.

That’s when it got better. Hour-long conversations with someone you trust and who cares about you deeply literally saved me.

Typically, we would get a bottle of whiskey and sipped it slowly all night through. When we ran out of words, we would listen to music. And when the music stopped, we would just stay silent. It was my first experience of managing to ease the pain, talking about it or simply letting it dissolve in silence. This was the first time when I was not alone. The first time I felt that I have a shoulder to lean on, and that made me feel better.

* A popular Russian rock band

** Singer and songwriter for Aquarium band and one of the most prominent members of the generation which is widely considered the “founding fathers” of Russian rock music

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