Hi. I’m Gale. I had everything going for me at 19- senior in college, singer in a wedding/bar mitzvah band, engaged to be married, etc. Then, boom, I had depressive and manic episodes and finally, after a few hospitalizations in regular hospitals and diagnosed as Bipolar 1, my parents got me into NIMH (National Institutes of Mental Health) in Bethesda, Md. I stayed there a year for their research and to stabilize me on medication.
After that, my life changed dramatically. I really couldn’t go back to school- I couldn’t concentrate with the meds. I couldn’t sing in the band anymore with all the side effects, I gained weight, broke up with my fiancee, (he was abusive and the therapy helped me), and went to a support group and later ran a few of them.. I did later get married and had a child, which was very difficult because I had to go off the medication and suffered with pre and post partum depression. I divorced in 2000.
I think at 54, I’ve learned to cope the best I can, and I know my triggers. I went on SSDI and work part time as a caregiver to the elderly. That works for me. I know I would have been a teacher with a good pension by now, but I have to accept this life. I do have a great boyfriend and great mom, who has always been there for me. I do sing in a chorus which has been enough for me. So, I coped, but tragedy struck 4 years ago when my son drowned in a car accident. My doctor and family were there for me, and I’m sure the meds kept me alive.
It isn’t easy living with this illness- often I feel sorry for myself. My boyfriend gives me support, he’s great. My ex husband never did. You have to find supportive people around you.
I will give support when I can to anyone that asks me. I don’t talk about it to my clients, they have enough to cope with. I try and stay professional, but try to educate people when they bring it up, since I also studied a lot of psychology in school. Basically, I stay to myself these days and just post on facebook, the happy stuff, mainly. I have learned and grown with this illness, but I definitely go “one day at a time” which my first doctor told me to do.
Now, in 2015, I have decided to switch medications to get less side effects. I was on basically the same meds since I was 19. So far, so good. I’m gradually adjusting to this new med. I have better concentration, less tremors and I’m more active. Yessss.