Words of Encouragement for the Recently Diagnosed
In 2006 at the age of 26 I was first hospitalized for bipolar disorder. From 2006-2008 I endured a bumpy journey of job changes and four hospitalizations while I struggled to become medically compliant. My first two prescription cocktails made me nauseous, numb, and nervous. I fidgeted all of the time and even tried to jump out of my mom’s care at a red light because I just couldn’t sit still and I preferred to walk home. I would start and stop my medications when I felt like it. I felt my doctors weren’t listening to my concerns and the drugs that actually made me feel worse were expensive.
When I finally found the right prescription regimen I was happy to spend the money to feel better. Accepting a bipolar diagnosis was the most important step I made towards wellness. I lost two years of my life to my stubborn denial and refusal to look for a better doctor. I was lucky to find a doctor I enjoyed working with through my last hospitalization. I urge you to trust the medical professionals in your life and work with them using open communication to find the right treatment plan for your optimal mental health.
I still have mood swings every month. They seem to be related to my menstrual cycle and hormone changes. My doctor and I agree they are manageable. My medication keeps me in a safe zone and I’ve learned to accept the limits of my illness. Some nights I won’t sleep and that’s okay. The next day I’ll avoid caffeine and push through then take my prescribed medication to help me sleep that night. When I am more “manic” I capitalize on my energy and complete tasks I have been putting off. When I am more “depressed” I work hard to ignore the suicidal voice in my head and refocus my thoughts on a positive fantasy. Recently I considered what it would be like to have lunch with a favorite celebrity, what questions I would ask and how I would fee after such an encounter.
I’ve learned it is essential to my ongoing health to ride my mood swings like a roller coaster. I enjoy the up times and work hard to survive the down times. This is better for me than the initial numbness I felt from the wrong medications. I needed to feel my emotions. I cry less and laugh more now that I am well medicated. I have held a stable position for the last seven years. My life as a diagnosed bipolar patient is much better than my life as an undiagnosed, dramatically mood fluctuating individual. Looking back I can see the last ten years of my life have been a learning process. I am now hopeful about my future and recently re-enrolled to finish my bachelor degree. I am happy to say I am a better person having survived the struggles of initial diagnosis and disease acceptance. Living with this illness has made me appreciate the good in life in a more profound way.