I am Bipolar 1, also called Bipolar Disorder, and sometimes still referred to as Manic Depression. You see? You’ve already stumbled upon one controversy in the world of mental illness. People have strong opinions about the way you refer to a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. I am Bipolar 1 and I don’t mind how you refer to it. However, I do wish there were fewer false mental health labels and fewer stigmas.
Today is World Mental Health Day. So, instead of inserting pie charts or statistics, I’m going to tell you a little about My Big Bipolar Life.
I was diagnosed with Depression at age 19, but looking back it might have been the Depressive side of Bipolar we were focused on; it was hard to tell. It was a typical age to begin to have Bipolar problems. I started therapy and was prescribed medicine by a great doctor. His focus was getting me out of my Depression, but somehow I put both the Depression and Mania to work. Here’s an example: I was earning my BFA and I used the suffering and deep pain of Depression to express in my art. Conversely, I exploited the Manic episodes for limitless creativity, contagious enthusiasm, and the ability to stay up for days in a row to work on projects. I honestly didn’t want the mania to end. I never do.
But nothing is that simple. When Bipolar episodes start with me:
- I have no control over when episodes start or end.
- I have no control over how intense they are.
- I have no control over if it’s going to be Depression or Mania.
- Will I understand what’s happening to me at the time? I won’t care.
- Will those around me understand and help me? Hopefully, but sometimes I just upset them.
- Will I be so out of control I do something I regret? Possibly and damage control is not fun.
- What goes up must come down.
Why Am I Bipolar?
Several factors contribute to my having Bipolar Disorder. One is DNA, and my family tree is populated with people with mental illnesses. Bipolar Disorder is one.
Jump Forward To Today
I’ve had great doctors and horrible ones, excellent therapists and terrible ones. I feel like I’ve been prescribed every drug possible to find the right combination through trial and error. Now I take several medications throughout the day. It sounds like a lot, but their particular chemical combination works well for me, so I feel gratitude.
I’m a strong person and want to achieve specific goals in life, just like everyone else. I can do that by following a certain lifestyle: No alcohol ever, exercise, meditate, sleep enough, take my medicine on time, and spending time in nature. That’s the end of my Bipolar story today.