For ten years I have lived under the shadow of my diagnosis. Bipolar 1 Major Depressive disorder Generalized anxiety disorder.
At 46 years old I began the struggle of medication adjustments, bearing with the many side effects of the medications..and the many limitations having this illness would put on my life.
Now at 56 I am coming out into the light. Finding my way as a person who struggles with a mental illness. A person who foremost takes my medication. A person who gets proper rest, limits stress, eats healthy, and gets some exercise. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a mother in law, a grandmother an aunt, a friend. And I am Bipolar.
As far back as I can remember I struggled with highs and lows. I wish I had gotten treatment much earlier but I didn’t want a mental illness. It was a sign of weakness. Of course I could be well if I tried harder. Worked harder. Prayed harder.
I like so many others didn’t believe it was a sickness. I like so many others never understood that mental illness was like so many other illnesses it required medication to treat the symptoms. It was not unlike diabetes, thyroid disease, heart disease.
But unlike those illnesses mental illness carried with it shame. Embarrassment. It was not spoken of. You are never asked how you are feeling. It’s the stigma of this illness that makes it hard for people to seek help and stick with their treatment.
I choose to share my story now to help someone, anyone know that you too can come out of the shadows into the light.
Life does exist after your diagnosis.