This is my first post, but I'm glad that this forum is available!
So let me give you some background on my situation, and maybe some of you might be able to respond:
I'm a 22/f who was diagnosed with depression in high school. Took Lexapro 10mg for about a year, but then my mom lost her job (father's estranged) and we couldn't afford meds so I had to quit. I went to college, and things seemed somewhat "okay" though I had really dark moments (and consequently swore off alcohol because it seemed to make it worse, not the easiest thing to do in college).
I was really successful in college though -- I went to a top-10 university in the US, straight As, president of the second-largest student group on campus, held a job, yadda yadda. The dean even asked once when I slept, but though I felt tired, I got by fine on 5-6 hours/night.
My senior year of college, things got really bad. I felt like everything started spiraling out of control. I started off the year basically narcoleptic -- I fell asleep everywhere (in class, at lunch, in meetings). The university doctor did a bunch of medical tests but found nothing "medically" wrong so he attributed my sleeping problems to "senior year stress." My sleep schedule never got back to "normal" persay, but it improved and I felt better in terms of getting enough rest.
However, I started noticing really terrible mood swings. At first, I thought it might be related to PMS, since it seemed to be cyclical. However, birth control and I don't get along (I've tired 5-6 different types, they all really messed with me in various ways). I would go from feeling "okay" or even "mildly happy" to suicidal in a matter of minutes. Little things my mom or boyfriend would say would send me into emotional trainwrecks; I would spend hours in bed raging with suicidal thoughts and then "coming down" off the rage into a state of emotional emptiness and feeling physically ill (stomachache, fever, chills).
No one really took me seriously though because of my college success. Everyone I talked to, from friends to family to school counselors said my symptoms were stress-related and that I should do "meditation" or "yoga." I graduated, then started studying for LSATs. During this time, I really felt my mind losing it -- I started having constant nightmares, panic attacks, insomnia, and general feelings of hopelessness/death OR I would be a really effective studier, absorb tons of material, score near perfects on the test. I never felt "balanced" during my study -- on test day, I had a massive panic attack and blew the test.
Since the test, and since getting rejected by a lot of really neat opportunities, I've further fell into this suicidal tailspin. I basically go between feeling dull and useless to wanting to die, at least once a week. My mom is quite unhelpful; she blames me for my emotions (maybe it is my fault?), and I don't have the financial means to pursue proper psychiatric care/counseling.
My question to board users -- is this bipolar disorder or just depression that's escalated? Any suggestions as to what I can do? (PLEASE don't say "yoga/meditation" -- I really can't get my mind to focus on either of those things, I've tried.)