Accepting That I’m Bipolar

I remember the day clearly when my doctor gave me the diagnosis. I didn’t accept it and for years (15 to be exact), I went about my unbalanced and toxic life. I mean bipolar meant I was a crazy, right. Initially I did take the meds I was given, they balanced me but the side effects hindered my work because I’m a cake designer and photographer. The meds killed my creativity, so I stopped taking them after 2 months.

I honestly thought I was misdiagnosed. I explained away so many of the signs and symptoms with teenage hormones (which is when it started to appear), to just being a woman with mood swings because of hormones. Looking back it became worse after the birth of my second child. I attributed it to the baby blues and being that Southern Baptist prayed myself through.

I spent my adult life a mess, during what I now know were my manic episodes I felt so good, got so much done because of insomnia for days, reeked havoc on friends on and loves (not really realizing it until the mania had subsided and depression set in). After the mania, I’d regret what I’d done and the depression would be so heavy. I would feel so worthless, not wanting to live because my loved ones would be so much better off if I wasn’t around. All of these I blamed on mood swings. Never even thinking back to my diagnosis years before. I actually never even read up on bipolar because I wasn’t crazy.

Then 40 happened, and I was reevaluating my life. I was in the best relationship of my life, I’d relocated, I had one daughter in college another on her way and my son in route two years behind her, and I had gotten engaged. Life was looking. Yet something wasn’t right with me and looking back it hadn’t been for a long time. My doctor sent me to a therapist, who gave me the same diagnosis I’d received all those years ago but never accepted. This time I researched Bipolar II, and my life flashed before my eyes. It explained so much. This illness wasn’t going to be handled with just prayer, I’d have to go on meds. My therapist helped me to find a combination that would balance me but not hinder my creativity and I’m now living with this illness.

Next Friday I’ll be 44 and I’m trying to shed the shame associated with being Bipolar. Until last summer my doctor was the only person who knew I had this illness. Now my kids, other half and sister knows. Me telling them was like a light going off in their eyes. It made years of my behaviors make sense. In posting this I’m going to be forced to share this with other loved ones. I’m very nervous because to so many Bipolar is simply a mental illness. And although that is true, it’s also a very managable illness like any other illness. How it affects my life depends on how I treat it.

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