Thursday, June 7, 2012
One day at a time
I wish I could tell you that living with bipolar disorder or or any mental illness was easy when you're in treatment. The fact is that in my 23 years, nothing about it has been easy. It's been tough, it's been hard, it's been messy. I have lost so many things because of it. I have lost friends, boyfriends, and I have lost my career. So yes I wish I could sit here today and tell you that having bipolar disorder was going to be an easy road once you're in treatment, but that would be lying and I need to tell you the truth about it. I do not want to discourage anyone from getting help, but I do want to let everyone know what they can expect once in treatment. Being diagnosed at 16 I thought I had found out what was "wrong" with me and they can finally treat me. I thought by taking my medication and going to therapy would be all that I had to do to live a fairly normal life. But after that day there was nothing normal about my life ever again. I'm not writing this for a pity party and I never want anyone to feel sorry for me or treat me differently because I have bipolar disorder. I am just trying to show the family and friends and others that have bipolar disorder what they might experience when they leave the doctors office or hospital. I know I had no idea and it would of been helpful to know some of these things. If you're diagnosed with bipolar disorder after you've received your medical treatment then you will want to find support. Support has kept me going for 23 years. Without the support of others I wouldn't be alive today. I am one of the lucky ones because my family has always supported me throughout my entire battles with this illness. Sure my family did not understand it at first but they did what they could to try to understand it and help me. They've always done everthing in their power to try to be there for me and help me get through my mood swings. Many doctors will tell you with the right medication and treatment you can live a normal life. Well I do not think that's entirely true and I wanted to let people know that it takes much more than the medication to manage this illness. I know everyone is completely different that has this disorder, so you have to do what works best for you and only time will let you know what that will be. You need to know that medication that works today might stop working in a year or two. I have taken so many combinations of medication over the years and each time it is a big adjustment. You need to know even with medication you will still have mood swings because balancing serotonin is not an exact science and there is no way at this time to measure it. That is why a support system is key because during those bad days you will need help to get through them. Support can even be found on the Internet. In fact that is one of the best places I have found to talk to others that know how I feel. I have some people in my life that think by just taking the medication it will "fix" everything. So everyone that has someone in their life with a mental illness needs to know that this is not the case. It does help and it is needed but it is a day to day struggle. The best things for people to do that support someone with a mental illness is to just encourage them and not judge them. Most of all they need to know it is no one's fault that they have this illness. There is no cure for bipolar disorder so it is a lifelong illness that has to be managed with proper treatment. At this point in my life I try to take it day by day and pat myself on the back for even the smallest things that I was able to complete that day. When I get into bed each night I give myself a huge pat on my back. I know that might seem strange but it means I have fought my illness another day and I have survived.