Rachel

I was diagnosed with bipolar type two at the age of 17. I was approaching the end of my final year at high school and the pressure of exams was slowly getting to me so I decided to take part in some recreational drug use to calm my nerves. After nearly four days of no sleep, a shopping spree of spending a thousand dollars in less than two hours and multiple epiphanies and hallucinations to name a few of my symptoms, my parents took me to a hospital where I was placed in a psychiatric ward and I stayed for five weeks. During that time I missed out on my senior year formal, a pre-planned holiday with my friends and my 18th birthday. Those five weeks were the most traumatizing yet life changing time of my life. I wasn’t told why I was there, I was confused and to make matters worse I was placed in the adult ward because there was no room in the youth ward and I was about to turn 18. After I was discharged I experienced my low for about a month if not more but with medication I improved.

About three years later I was living out of home and interstate and was off the medication with Doctor approval for about a year or more when I had my second manic episode. This time it was due to stress as I had gotten myself in dangerous situations with the wrong people. At the time I thought I was helping them I just ended up vulnerable to people who were going down bad paths in life and I know it isn’t an exaggeration when I say I was putting my own life at risk (evident to me before the episode, not a figment of my imagination). Given I was alone and didn’t have family to acknowledge the changes in me I was lucky to get help when family circumstances brought us back together and my cousin insisted I get help. This episode wasn’t as severe as the last but I still experienced the low after. I was put back on lithium at a lower dose than what I would like but I tolerate it. I know one day I will be able to function without the meds. I’m not silly about it and will do so with Doctors discretion but I know that they are an aid in me managing this illness and are not a crutch I need in order to “get through” life.

I am 24 now and it has been a little over 4 years since that last episode and I am doing really well. I’m in a loving relationship with a man who plans to marry me and loves me for me and although he accepts and understands my bipolar it is such a non-issue for him it’s like I don’t even have it. My family is very supportive as always which is a big help and I am at university studying to be a teacher. I am still on the medication but I am in the process with my Doctor of possible reduction very soon. Bipolar does not have to be a disorder that rules your life. You get to decide how to deal with it and ignoring it won’t make it go away. Living with bipolar has made me a stronger person, I’m more empathetic to others’ circumstances and life hurdles and I am proud that despite it I am creating the life I’ve always wanted to lead.

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