What can be worse than bipolar? The prospect of living the rest of your life with the illness, that's what. Whether you suspect you may have bipolar or have been recently diagnosed with the illness, chances are your life is in shambles. You may have run up debts, you may have left your employment, your friends and loved ones may have deserted you. Life sucks.
You may be working up the courage to seek help. You may be walking out the doctor's office with your first prescription in hand. Or you may be an old hand at this, in which case your dominant feeling may be, here we go again.
What now? you may wonder. Am I ever going to be able to put my life back together? Or will it always be - like this?
My recent "mailbag" contains correspondence from a number of individuals living in an uncertain state of psychiatric limbo, and one who is experiencing a clear case of psychiatric hell.
Alikat7, age 23, writes:
"I was just recently diagnosed with Bipolar II a month ago after I had a period of episodes of poor judgments, reckless spending, and hypersexuality/promiscuous behavior spanning over the last 3 years that was so out of my character that my relationships with my family and friends were damaged. During this time I had periods of crippling depression where I wanted to just die. Before I had my daughter, I would deal with my severe mood swings by downing alcohol."
Alikat mentions suicidal thoughts and the fact that her daughter is her saving grace. "I am going to a psychologist and a psychiatrist," she concludes, "so hopefully they will help me get this under control."
"I had no idea what being bipolar really is." She reached her breaking point, left her career job, ran through her 401K, and is having no success at finding new employment. "I pray," she concludes, "and am trying not to be desperate."
Andrew Thompson, who has been staying up all night on manic-fueled creativity, and who seems to be alienating his friends, writes:
"Even though I now recognize all these symptoms, I find myself in denial about it, often thinking ‘oh, I just needed to capture that song in one session so it sounded uniform, so I had to stay up late', or ‘I'm just writing because I'm lonely'. Or ‘I'm just going through a very creative period, and my meds are keeping my mania in check" (which is still my favorite excuse).'"
Kittygrow, a year into her diagnosis, writes:
"Are there any tests out there to confirm [my diagnosis]? How do I really know??? After a year on a terrifying roller coaster on different meds, Lamictal has rescued me-literally."
CG73 wants to know:
"On this site, you can choose a role of ‘recovered' - would some of those folks please tell me how long it took and how many doctors and meds you went through to get there?"