GUEST BLOGGER – Alicia has shared in the most honest and genuine way, just what living with bipolar means to her. It demonstrates how different yet similar everyone’s experiences of the same illness can be. Thank you Alicia for being so brave in sharing your story.
Are you bipolar 1 or 2 and when were you diagnosed? I am Bipolar 2, and was officially diagnosed in December 2013. I first began seeking help for my mental health by the end of 2003, so it was a long time coming.
How did seeing the psychiatrist come about, when I’m guessing ultimately he or she gave you a diagnosis? When I first began seeking treatment, I didn’t know where to go; and, I was embarrassed that I even needed to do so (stigma). I began be seeing a general practitioner, then a neurologist and neuropsychologist and worked together, then a psychiatrist. You can read what finally led me to seeking treatment at this link… https://lifesodaily.com/crying-out/
How did you feel when you received the diagnosis? After 10 years, I honestly felt relief. Now that we knew what was going on with me…proper treatment could be sought.
What treatment have you received, and are you still being treated in terms of meds and/or therapy? I take an antidepressant along with a mood stabilizer. It took a bit of time to determine the best combo and doses, but what I’m on now works. Also, for my anxiety, I take Xanax as needed. Luckily, my use of xanax is minimum these days. I visit my psychiatrist regularly. For awhile it was weekly. Right now, I’m at once every two months. When needed, I go more often. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (which he never referred to, but I realized later that’s what was happening) has been a life-saver, as well.
What does having a manic or hypomanic episode mean to you? For me, it’s irritability and anger. I’ve learned to give myself a “time out” by walking away if people are around. Hurting relationships, especially those of family, needs to be avoided.
How does it affect your working life/relationships/being a mummy and any other facet of your day to day life? This is a loaded question! After 20 years of being an educator, I resigned in February 2018. I couldn’t do it anymore. The demands were higher than I could deal with. I was exhausted, yet had no time to truly recuperate. More regarding my work and motherhood can be read at these links… https://lifesodaily.com/mentalhealthday-medical-leave/
The same questions for when you have a depressive low. Ugh. Just horrible. It’s super low and super long. It feels like impending doom. Suicide ideation swims around in my mind. I feel worthless. I feel unable to pull myself out of the depths. Luckily, due to therapy and meds, I’ve learned to keep from taking this dangerous downturn.
What do you suffer from the most, highs or lows? Definitely the lows. A little bit about it here… https://lifesodaily.com/mental-mud/
Is there any history of mental illness in your family? None that’s been admitted to. I have an aunt and cousin who have since said they have depression.
Do you worry about the stigma attached to mental illness? Always. It’s so strong that it’s hard to not even stigmatize myself at times. Also, I wonder…when should I let people know? Or how? Or even should I? I actually have a guest post yet to be published regarding this. Here is a link if you want to read it ahead of time… https://docs.google.com/document/d/14l-u246CuuJLOf-KPKAxfeSJYgaD7WMCH8SZELaJAbQ/edit?usp=sharing
And, another couple I wrote previously… regarding me… https://lifesodaily.com/swear-not-crazy/
Regarding stigma in general… https://lifesodaily.com/stigma-surrounding-mental-illness/
How do you see your life going forwards, in terms of the challenges it may bring? I feel I’m on my right path now. I have a support system. I have a plan for myself when things start spiraling. I have a doctor. I have meds. I’m hoping that I can continue speaking out in order to let others know they don’t have to struggle in silence. There are those like you and me who understand.
Written by Alicia