Romeo native shares story of overcoming bipolar disorder – Macomb Daily
Having two brothers with Down Syndrome, Tim Chorzempa of Rochester Hills knows the importance of looking at a person first rather than their disability.
Her siblings showed her that a mental health issue doesn’t define who you are and that you can achieve greatness through the goals you set for yourself.
So he wasn’t shaken when her date said she had bipolar disorder.
He already knew who she was and that he would love her all his life. She is now his wife and best friend, Meg Chorzempa, who is proof that someone with bipolar disorder can not only be successful, but also find true love.
“Eight years ago I spent three months in a group home, locked up and watched at all times after becoming non-compliant with medication. I cut and burned, attempted suicide, and spent time on Social Security disability,” Meg said. “Today I’m happily married, working full-time in my nonprofit career, and owning my own home.”
She is also working on her Masters in Fine Arts and Creative Writing, which will allow her to pursue her passion for creative writing and become an author. To top it off, she launched a digital newsletter to discuss her recovery journey and to offer hope to others with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness or manic depression is a mental disorder, causes unusual changes in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration and the ability to perform daily tasks.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are three types of bipolar disorder, all of which involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up”, elated, irritable or energetic behavior (called manic episodes) to very “down”, sad, indifferent or desperate periods (called depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are called hypomanic episodes. The NIMH defines the three types as follows:
Bipolar I Disorder— defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes also occur, usually lasting at least 2 weeks. Depressive episodes with mixed characteristics (having depressive symptoms and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.
Bipolar II Disorder– defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-fledged manic episodes that are typical of bipolar I disorder.
Cyclothymic disorder (also called cyclothymia) — defined by periods of hypomanic symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms of at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.
Sometimes a person may have symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not fit into the three categories listed above, called “other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.”
Bipolar disorder is usually diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood, as was the case for Meg.
“I had a happy childhood,” said Meg, who was one of five children raised by Sharon and Denis LeDuc of Washington Township.
Her father served as a senior attorney at Romeo District Court 41-1 for 18 years before retiring and opening a mediation and arbitration practice in Shelby Township. She remembers being a little girl who followed him around town distributing election materials during the elections.
As a student at Romeo High School, Meg was known to be a high achiever.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to get good grades,” Meg said. “I just wanted my parents to be proud of me.”
Her hard work paid off academically, but Meg struggled to make friends at school and suffered from bouts of depression.
“I would lie on the floor in my bedroom and cry or beat myself up. I couldn’t see telling my parents,” Meg said. “I wanted to ask for help but I didn’t know how.”
His teachers sensed something was wrong. As a member of the school newspaper staff, she was so distressed and worried about an article that she ended up missing her deadline, which was unusual for her.
“My teacher then asked me, ‘Meg, is there something wrong?’ I lied and told him, ‘No. Everything is fine,” she recalls.
If she could travel back in time today, Meg would tell her teen to talk to the teacher and tell her she was suffering from depression and needed help. She would tell herself that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that her parents love her no matter what.
Despite her mental health issues, Meg graduated at the top of her class and was admitted to the University of Michigan, where she majored in English in hopes of becoming an English author or teacher.
During her freshman year of college, Meg excelled academically and even socially, making several friends. She also sought help from a counselor, but after returning from a 6-week trip abroad to study Spanish, everything changed.
“I was so anxious and nervous before the trip,” Meg said. “It went well but I think it sparked something.”
Shortly after returning home, she began having suicidal thoughts and began cutting herself (thighs) to distract those thoughts.
The actual clinical term for this type of self-harm is nonsuicidal self-harm (NSS).
Fortunately, one of the friends she made in college called her mother and told her what was going on. Meg remembers the call as it was around the same time she won a writing award.
“I had managed to hide it for a long time – bipolar people can be very successful – but the cracks were showing,” Meg said.
After that, her parents convinced her to go home and go to school, which she did several days a week.
“It was a huge effort, but I did it and graduated in 2007 with honors,” Meg said.
While finishing her studies, Meg saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with severe depression and gave her a prescription to help her cope with the bad days. However, instead of getting better, she got worse and that’s when her mother confronted her about what was going on.
“I felt so bad. I should have told him,” Meg said. “After that, my mum really advocated for me to get a proper diagnosis. She suspected I was bipolar – there’s a family history.
Once diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Meg was given the medication she needed, but one of the side effects was weight gain. After gaining 60 pounds, she started hitting the gym. She lost weight, but soon after her triumph, she gained it all back. Frustrated, she stopped taking her medication, which led to a major setback in her recovery.
“I just got out of control,” Meg said. “I became delusional and paranoid. I remember thinking the CIA was following me and my phone was tapped. I also had this idea that I was a ballet dancer and that I could speak French.
She spent three months in a group home, where she was cared for, locked up and constantly monitored. Once stable again, she returned to her parents, who helped keep her healthy, not only by continuing to take her medication and in therapy, but by eating better and working out at the gym.
Eventually, Meg started dating again.
“I would go out a few times and on the third date I would tell them I was bipolar,” Meg said. “Then they would disappear.”
Tim, on the other hand, was different.
“When I told Tim, he just rolled with it. He just said, ‘What matters is that you’re a good person. That’s what I’m looking for, a good woman with a good heart. said Meg, her eyes sparkling.
Tim said he admired Meg’s courage to be candid about her condition.
“It really says something about his character,” said Tim, whose marriage proposal evolved during a conversation they both had about enjoying each other’s company.
“She’s a very compassionate and kind person. She’s determined. She’s very smart and funny,” said Tim, who married the love of his life on June 15, 2019 in a small ceremony attended by friends. and family.
“My husband and I have a special relationship, with him accepting me and loving me, bipolar disorder and everything, and supporting him at work and at home. He’s a special man,” said Meg, who will celebrate her third wedding anniversary and eight years since she tried to harm herself in any way.
“I drew a line in the sand and thought, ‘I’m never going back there again,'” Meg said. “I don’t allow myself to think of self-harm as a possibility. A quick run is now a way for me to deal with feelings that in the past might have led me to self-harm. Exercise appears to be a positive alternative, perhaps because it releases endorphins.
She also strives to educate others about her experience so that they too can recover.
With so many people feeling anxious, depressed, even traumatized, with the continued impact of the pandemic, Meg said it was important to emphasize that there is no shame in asking for help.
“It’s totally possible to have a mental health issue and have a good, fulfilling life, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that,” Meg said. “People also think that healthy, loving relationships are out of reach for someone with a diagnosis like bipolar disorder. But a couple can make it work even with a serious mental health issue in the mix by developing trust, empathy and ongoing communication and when the partner with the mental health issue is dedicated to treatment.