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.
Your positive attitude gives me hope, as I am 45 years old and my entire family i.e. my grandmother, mother, daughter, son, husband, and my father -deceased from suicide (when I was 16 yrs old which was a huge stigma and of which I am embarrassed to admit that as a teen I was extremely ashamed and embarrassed of how he died) and I have mental health issues, as well as drug addictions.
My children showed signs of mental illness in their late teens, my daughter has anxiety and depression issues, my son has no diagnosis yet – due to various reasons, one of which is because I live in the Fresno CA and we have virtually no child mental health help here at all. Children in crisis have to be sent either 3 hours south of here or 4 hours north of here to get help. My drug counselor’s daughter was sent many times to Bakersfield via ambulance, with restraints on the whole trip.
Anyways, stigma is bad but what is even worse is ignorance due to non-education of mental health. This country needs to include mental health screenings at doctor visits from early childhood, make mental health as common as the rest of our health visits, we get physicals for our bodies – we need the same for our brains and make it so common that it’s just a part of daily life. Wouldn’t that have been nice for us growing up? I can’t believe its still not that way today.
Keep up your positivity, it’s contagious!
There is help in Fresno, CA-Sievert, MD group sees children, and the best is have children seen early so as they do not go into crisis and have a plan if they do.
Marybeth, I just came across this site n read your story n I have to say you are brave. Along with everyone else whose brave enough to tell someone how hard it is to live with bipolar.
Thank you for sharing your story! I am also a wife,Mother,Grandmother,Aunt,Mother in Law Daughter and full time Family member……..I would like to just say one thing about your diagnosis……..You are NOT BiPolar…you HAVE BiPolar….It is an illness like having cancer or diabetes……but, you are NOT Cancer! Please don’t let yourself be defined by this disease……It can be treated and managed.
To Marybeth: I agree with another respondent– you are not bipolar, you have bipolar. Just like there are people with high blood pressure. And to Carrie H: there is help in Fresno, CA-Sievert, MD group sees children, and the best is have children seen early so as they do not go into crisis and have a plan if they do.