The truth about depression, suicidal thoughts and bipolar disorder. His story starts at just 16 years old, when Ross Szabo was diagnosed with bipolar disorder which escalated to depression, suicidal thoughts, anger control problems and psychotic features. At just 17, he was hospitalized for attempting to take his own life. He has found a way to not just survive, but thrive and has gone on to speak to over a million people on a mission to normalize mental health disorders.
Ross talks about what was going on in his life during his teens when things were at their worst for him. He explains how he felt it was easier to use alcohol as a numbing agent than wait for medication to work. As he began to drink, his bipolar symptoms changed. As oppose to mania and depression, he began to have massive bouts of anger. It wasn’t until he began to have hallucinations that people began to get scared and respond.
“The hallucinations are not something you forget. When it first starts happening to you, you’re in this state of paranoia because you don’t know what’s real.” Ross explains the details of hallucinations and how he was able to rationalize and understand what was happening to him.
After entering a deep state of depression, he struggled with taking his own life for 4 months. Eventually, he attempted suicide and was hospitalized. He was seeing a therapist twice a week for those 4 months and never once mentioned his suicidal thoughts to them. He didn’t want to die, he just didn’t see a way out of his bipolar disorder.
Ross is so brave to explain his feelings and rationalizations of that time. He wishes that he would’ve, “Had the understanding that it took more strength to talk about it than to hide it.”
The turning point came at age 21, when his parents admitted to him that they didn’t think he would live to be 21 years old. He had never seen his parents cry like that. A while later, after drinking excessively, he laid unconscious for 21 hours. When he woke, he looked at himself in the mirror and told himself that he was either going to die or have to change. That was 5 years after he was diagnosed.
“No one ever asked me, ‘How does it feel to have bipolar disorder?'”
“I think the reason mental health disorders and self hate are so closely tied to each other is because they fuel each other.”
I ask him what he needed to hear during that crucial period. Ross shares, “I think I need to explore further how I did feel about having these emotions as oppose to just having them. I think I needed to be asked, ‘How does it feel to hallucinate and what does it feel like to have all these people laugh at you. And to have these situations in your life that you can’t control?'”
According to Ross, the best part of his life now is being able to be in the moment and enjoy emotions for what they are instead of being afraid.
If you’re out there and you’re dealing with a mental health issue and you’re somewhere on that spectrum wether it’s dealing with anxiety, a major trauma or it’s escalating into something more like the bipolar disorder, I hope that you do some of the things we discussed to experience your life potential.
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