The Life of Bipolar

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  • Can I live a good life with bipolar disorder? | Screening 2 Supports? Treat every experience you have as a learning one. Try and think of it as the next foot forward. For example, if you are hospitalized, try not to think about it as a disruption of your progress but rather a lesson about what triggers you to get to that stage. Think of it as having a toolbox, and each time something happens, take something from the experience and put in your toolbox for the next time you feel something coming over you. Never compare yourself to others. Recovery is made up of little, daily victories that should be celebrated. If the hardest thing you did today was get out of bed, then take pride in that.

Each day is an accomplishment.

What it's like to have bipolar, by people who have bipolar

If you are a feeling a certain way, regardless of the circumstances that brought you there, you are entitled to feel that way. My official diagnosis is bipolar I with a seasonal component. What that means is my depression hits epic levels for during the months of November to March. As a result, I can be in a really bad depression cycle and it gets worse every year at the same time. I can feel the changes at the end of October as the season gets colder. As the temperature drops my depression increases and becomes a more prominent aspect of my daily life.

Living with bipolar disorder as an adult: Heidi Iwig describes life after treatment

In contrast, during the summer months, my depression is manageable, or even nonexistent. It is very easy to turn to self-harm when you live with bipolar I disorder. I turned to self-harm as a teen and in my early twenties to keep my suicidal thoughts at bay.

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It was easier to deal with physical pain than my emotional pain. I now advocate against suicide as a final option and want others living with bipolar I to know that suicide is never the answer. With the help of a mental health professional, you can start taking steps towards limiting your own depression cycles and finding healthy ways to cope with your symptoms.

Your medical team will look at what works for your bipolar I diagnosis but know that the side effects can be harsh. At the beginning of my diagnosis, I just took whatever my psychiatrist prescribed without knowing the long-term effects. Over the course of ten years, I have struggled mightily with my two important medications—Seroquel and Ativan.

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They both have harsh long-term issues as they are supposed to be used as short-term solutions. I will always have the extreme depression cycles and the extreme mania episodes, but learning how to manage and continuously work on your mental health can change your outlook on life entirely.

It is not a shameful thing to have a mental illness, and the sooner you realize that truth, the sooner you can move forward. I thought when I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder that my life had ended. For the three years that followed my mind was marred by extreme levels of depression. I could barely live with it. It took my last suicide attempt for me to wake up and finally accept help.

The mistake I made was not believing that there was something seriously wrong with me. And I usually remember my wedding anniversary. After that I tend to become a little bit like Edith Bunker, but the date of my diagnosis is forever etched into my memory. The spiral to hell began with a family outing to the Grand Canyon and ended with a half-frozen chicken. Our two teenage sons helped pack the family van with tents and fishing poles and we sang songs and reminisced as we drove the miles; our first visit to the Grand Canyon. We arrived in time for a glorious sunset, set up our camp, enjoyed our meal, and slept well in the mountain air.

The next morning I woke early and took a short hike to view the Grand Canyon up close. I stood at the very edge and looked straight down, about six-thousand feet down. Without reason or cause a black dark depression swept over me and I thought about stepping out and slipping over the edge.

I moved forward to dangle one foot and I watched in fascination as the ground began to crumble a bit; pieces of dirt fell, plunged so deeply, beyond my view. Just dark depression, sadness. I looked up and out over the canyon and suddenly a beautiful large bird flew out over my head and dove deep, playing against the air near the cliffs, it soared. I watched as he folded his wings tightly against his body, he twisted, no longer bird-shaped, now like an arrow he plunged.

His body fell quickly, plummeting a few hundred yards, spinning out-of-control, and then suddenly his wings spread out wide and bird-shaped again he soared back up above the canyon walls, then above me. We went off on a hike and I remained silent about my experience.

I never spoke about the deep depression that had suddenly overwhelmed me. That was the first step of mistakes. I had experienced some depression at times in the past, but those were times when everyone has normal lows; after the death of my grandmother, some postpartum depression, my doctor prescribed a few weeks of valium. But in a strange way that seemed a blessing, my father was an odd sort. He never held a job longer than a few months. He often disappeared on fishing trips for weeks at a time. Autumn had finally arrived to the Arizona desert and I thought it would be nice to have an oven meal.

I planned a roast chicken dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans. The thighs were still frozen. In a half of a milli-second my bright yellow kitchen turned dark and the blackness returned, my mind swirled with confusion. How would I stuff it? The thighs were frozen to the body.

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What would I do now? It would never roast, the meat would be raw. I only knew that my dinner was ruined. My day way ruined. My life was horrible. What was I supposed to do with a stupid half-frozen chicken? Tears began to stream down my face and I plunged to the floor in a lotus position.