I moved to Houston, Texas a year after high school (I took a year off). I was going to be a music performance major, and I was thrilled to live in a different city, far away from my parents. For about 6 months, my boyfriend and I lived with his mother. Then he broke up with me.
His new girlfriend, I’d heard, was Filipino like me. I was devastated. And a little weirded out. I certainly wasn’t going to continue living with his family, even though I didn’t know how to look for an apartment. So his mother (bless her) helped me find a nearby apartment, co-signed on the lease, and I moved out.
I had no furniture. No couch or futon to sit on, no bed to sleep on. I didn’t mind, though, because the place was mine. I spent an awful lot of time listening to Melissa Etheridge’s self-titled album. I played the song, “Similar Features,” over and over again so much, I thought the needle on the record player would be damaged from its constant use. And boy, did I ugly cry!
On campus I always ate alone, not that anyone ever invited me. I didn’t socialize with the other students in the percussion department. Most of them were older guys, or at least they seemed a lot older than my age, 19-20. I felt fear, fear, fear. I didn’t have any techniques for getting past the fear, so I turned to drugs and alcohol.
At the end of spring semester, a good friend moved back to Houston, where he was born. We got a place together. It was paaaaarty central. To me, anyway. My friend had a real job. Two of my co-workers unofficially lived with us. People were in and out of our place: my new, older (over 21) boyfriend; two couples who lived in our building.
This was, I believe, when I first experienced my first hypomanic episode. Life had become an all-day/all-night party. I hardly slept. Several months later, I went the other way. I felt suicidal for the first time in my life. I just felt awful, and I didn’t know why.
I talked to my parents over the phone, and I told them I wanted to kill myself. My mom said they would get me help back home. They came down to Houston and helped me move.
But I never got the help I needed until 1995. I don’t know why. Could be stigma in the Filipino-American community. Could be denial. Could be both.
Do you remember the circumstances surrounding you first manic episode? Or depressive episode?