Living In A Bipolar World

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 22 years old.  At that time, I really didn't understand how the diagnosis was made.  I felt unstable and unloveable.  I was depressed, and having a hard time coping with life.  The doctor I was seeing (whose name I now don't remember) put me on lithium and told me it would help.   I definitely felt more stable, but I also felt like a robot.  I had no urge to experience life, I did not enjoy anything, I did not feel sad or happy or anything.  I simply felt like I was wrapped in bubble wrap and my emotions were left out.   I didn't especially care about anything, and each day was another day of apathy.  After a few months of this, I stopped taking the medications and stopped seeing the doctor.  I did not believe her diagnosis, and I felt like the medication was simply too much.

And my world began to spin again.  I could feel, breathe and luxurate in the breathing.  I woke up and became me.  So I began to experience life again.  And then everything spun out of control.  I lost friends, felt crazy, and did not know what to do.  I did not want counseling, I did not want to see a psychiatrist.  I had just begun dating a wonderful guy, and he encouraged me to try therapy without the drugs.  I went to three sessions and quit, but his encouragement gave me the will to try and not let the crazy control me.  And things began to bump along.

I ended up marrying the wonderful guy, and my life changed for the better.  Two years after marrying him, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl and almost instantly sank into a horrible post-partum depression.  My physician gave me some anti-depressants and by the time my daughter was 18 months old, I felt better.  I was weaned off the drugs, and continued to bump along with my little family.   Then, just after my daughter turned 3, I began to feel restless and unhappy.  I was anxious about many things, I wanted another baby, I wanted to go to school, I wanted everything.  My husband seemed less supportive of anything and I began to spiral out of control.  I finally confessed to him that I was unhappy, and we went to couples counseling. 

This time I was paired with a wonderful therapist and after a few sessions together, I began to see her alone.  We acknowledged my illness, and began tracking my moods.  She taught me some coping mechanisms for stressors that seemed to affect my moods, and I learned how to handle my life.  After a year with her, I began going to school again and we weathered the rough patches there, too.  I began to feel like I was in control more than I ever have.  The best part about my therapist is she has come to agree with me that I do not need to be medicated.  However, she has been very clear that I will probably need to be with a therapist in some capacity for the rest of my life because I need to be monitored.  My husband was taught how to learn and react to my moods, and in the last two years, my life has been a lot less rocky.  I have promoted at work, I have been taking online college courses, I go out with friends, spend a lot of time with my husband and daughter, and have learned to live with myself.  I still have upswings and downswings.  I am currently experiencing depression.  Since I am a rapid cycler, I have the knowledge that my moods will pass within a few weeks or a month.  Nothing has every lasted longer. 

I am in control of my illness, not the other way around.   Drugs are not for everyone, and I highly encourage others who suffer mild versions of mental illnesses to consider the possibility of handling their condition without harming their bodies with strong drugs.   I also acknowlege and understand that there are many many people who suffer much more severe symptoms and must rely on drugs to keep them functioning.  This is not something I would recommend doing without the help of a professional, though.  My life before therapy was crazy and unpredictable.  Now I am productive and able to handle whatever my moods throw at me. 
knutmeg knutmeg
31-35, F
Jul 23, 2010