Up until she was 13 years old, Aubrey Good was a normal teenager with straight A’s.
But after her father got arrested, she began lashing out and purposely getting in trouble, self-medicating with alcohol and was kicked out of her first high school.
Doctors attributed her erratic behavior first to her traumatic experience and then to depression, but it wasn’t until she was 18 years old that the Philadelphia native was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Good said that it took years for her to accept her diagnosis, believing that people would view her as ‘crazy’.
Now 26, Good said she’s in a better place than she’s been in years and told Daily Mail Online that it took meeting others going through the same disorder before she finally felt comfortable to tell people she was suffering from a mental illness.
Aubrey Good, 26 (left and right), was a normal teenager getting straight A’s up until age 13. However, after her father was arrested, she turned from a straight-laced student to a misbehaving and rebellious teenager
Doctors originally diagnosed Good (pictured with her therapy dog, Roo) with depression and put her on an antidepressant, which she used for three years but didn’t help
When she was 12 years old, Good was a typical pre-teen who loved fashion and makeup, and was scoring grades that placed her at the top of her class.
But just one week after her 13th birthday, she suffered a traumatic experience when her father was arrested on charges of dealing drugs and eventually sent to prison.
All of a sudden, Good turned from a straight-laced student to a misbehaving and rebellious teenager.
‘I developed a lot of poor self-esteem and I felt like rebelling, and acting out was one way to get attention and really funnel my negative feelings about myself into my action,’ she told Daily Mail Online.
‘I self-medicated a lot with alcohol. I became hypersexual, constantly doing things to get in trouble.’
Good said that between kindergarten and eighth grade at her private school, she received three demerits, which is a mark awarded against someone for a fault or offense.
But between freshman and sophomore year alone, she received 100 demerits.
‘I was in detention almost every day and in sophomore year, I was dismissed and had to change high schools,’ she said.
Doctors originally diagnosed her with depression and put her on an antidepressant, which she used for three years.
However, she said it didn’t help as she went through waves of ‘apathy and hopelessness’.
‘When I was about 16, someone I looked up to was talking about joining the Navy and I got into my head that joining the military might be a way to travel,’ Good said.
‘But I was chomping at the bit and I talked my mom into letting me join the Army National Guard when I was 17.’
It wasn’t until Good was 18 years old that a psychiatrist told her she was misdiagnosed and that she actually had rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. Pictured: Aubrey with her husband John
Good said she was annoyed at being on the wrong medication for the wrong disorder for years and was worried about the stigma that would surround her new disorder. Pictured: Good and her husband on their wedding day
However, a year later, she was still going through cycles of shutting down into a depressed state and partying.
Her grandmother felt the diagnosis of depression was incorrect and asked Good to come with her to a psychiatrist to get revaluated.
She underwent a psychiatric evaluation, where it was discovered the previous diagnosis of depression was incorrect. Good was actually suffering from rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder which causes unusual and often sudden changes in mood and energy levels.
Moods of those with bipolar disorder range from periods of extreme elation and energy (known as a manic episode) to periods of extreme somberness and lack of energy (known as a depressive episode).
According to the International Bipolar Foundation, sufferers are diagnosed with rapid cycling if they have four or more manic, hypomanic, or depressive episodes in any 12-month period.
This severe form of the condition occurs in around 10 to 20 percent of all people with bipolar disorder.
Currently it is unknown what is the cause of bipolar disorder, which affects around 5.7 million US adults aged 18 or older.
Scientists say genetics could play a role and that those with a a family history of bipolar disorder are more likely to have it.
Several celebrities have gone public about their struggles with the condition including Kanye West, Demi Lovato, Mariah Carey, Mel Gibson and Jean Claude van Damme.
Environmental factors can also trigger the disorder, such as a stressful or traumatic event. Good believes it was her father’s arrest that triggered her symptoms.
Good says she initially struggled with the acceptance of her diagnosis and the unfair stigma that came with it.
She said it wasn’t until she began volunteering at the International Bipolar Foundation and met others going through the condition that she felt inspired to share her story. Pictured: Good
Good says she finally feels stable and wants to instill hope in others currently struggling. Pictured: Good and her husband
‘I was annoyed because of I’d gone through years of being on wrong medication for the wrong disorder and now I was being told I had a disorder I didn’t understand,’ she said.
‘The media portrayal of bipolar disorder is of people who are crazy and impulsive but I didn’t hear of anyone who was high-functioning. I tried to comply with medication but didn’t understand the disorder so I stopped taking it.’
She said between the ages of 18 and 20, she refused to take prescribed medication and instead self-medicated with alcohol.
Good reconnected with a friend from her second high school, John, when she was 20 years old, who convinced to ‘tone-down’ her partying.
A year after they decided to start dating, they moved to San Diego where he was living.
‘Four days after we moved into the apartment, he left for a field operation,’ Good said.
‘I was depressed, I stayed in bed all the time, ate in bed, I didn’t want to get up. I became angry and irritable and was lashing out at people.’
Good said it wasn’t until she began volunteering at the International Bipolar Foundation (IBF) and met others going through the condition that she felt inspired to share her story.
‘I think for so long I was being treated for it but I wasn’t accepting the diagnosis,’ she said.
‘When someone asked me what was wrong, I came up with a million-and-one excuses. But now I’m just open about it.’
She’s currently program coordinator at the IBF and says she finally feels stable and wants to instill hope in others currently struggling.
‘We are all different people and bipolar disorder might be our shared diagnosis but it affects everyone differently,’ she said.
‘It wasn’t until I swallowed my pride and stopped fighting who I was that I changed how I saw myself.’