In November of 1989 I was a 25 year old woman, recently separated from my husband, with two beautiful sons aged 4 and 1 year old. I lived in a two bedroom apartment, worked full-time and felt very torn to be away from my boys all day. I was determined to give them the best lives I possibly could which caused me to cook homemade meals every evening and never feeding them fast food or a can of Spaghetti Os for dinner. We sat together for our dinner talking about their day, played, then I gave them baths and after they were dressed in their favorite pajamas we all snuggled in my oldest son’s race car bed as I read their favorite books. This was my favorite time with them. They were relaxed, fresh from their baths and loved my undivided attention. It was a time for us to talk about anything and everything on our minds and in our hearts. We shared funny stories, fears, dreams, questions, comfort and encouragement. My love for them was my anchor and they were my purpose in life, my reason for getting out of bed every day and moving forward even through the tsunamis that I felt I was always trying to steer us out of or hold off. After they were asleep is when all of my important work began. I kept our home sterilized, ironed their clothes, polished their shoes, cleaned up our dinner dishes and prepared everything in the crock pot for the following day’s meal so I could just plug it in before I left for work. I had always been high energy, talked fast and insomnia, but I began to feel like the tazmanian devil. After it began to be obvious that I needed help, my best friend took me to the emergency room to “have my medication adjusted” and I was hospitalized for the first time. I still remember how much shame, fear and denial that I felt at that time. That first night they brought a woman into my room who had just been transferred from a medical step down unit because she drove her car off of a bridge attempting to end her life. The nurse explained to me that was why it was so important that people with our illness never to stop taking our medication even after we began to feel better. She obviously didn’t know me I remember thinking because I would never try to kill myself. Fast forward through decades of a very painful and very messy life to May 2004. It didn’t happen they way I thought it did. I never told myself I was going to kill myself and took the steps to make that happen. I was once again in that lonely, dark, deeply painful place and in what felt like seconds I jumped in our car, didn’t put on a seat belt, started the car, closed my eyes and drove as fast as I could into a tree. The car was totaled, but amazingly I walked away with just a back strain. I don’t believe I wanted to die, I just wanted to end the pain and that felt like the only way. I have never found anyone who has not personally experienced first hand bipolar mood disorder to truly understand. I am now post-menopausal and the hormonal changes have caused me to experience 3-4 years of deep depression that has crippled me so that I rarely leave my house, spend most of my time in my room and have lost most of my family and friends. I lost my health insurance about that time because I lost my job after my second hospitalization so I have been untreated during that time. I just turned 49 this month and I truly can’t go on like this much longer. I was not prepared for early menopause or how it would completely change how my illness presents itself. Has anyone else experienced a big change as you’ve grown older or due to a hormonal change?