Bipolar Disorder Destroys Life and Then What?

Bipolar disorder not only disrupted my life it destroyed it. Every area of my life that I call my Pie of Life was affected: spiritual, financial, relationships/friendships, work, physical health and mental health. It took me a very long time to identify and process how each of these areas have been mutilated by an uncontrolled illness. But after recognizing the destruction I had to literally go back and start to pick up the pieces.

After I got my symptoms under control, I started to tell myself things like, “you deserve a life again.” But having a life meant facing the fall-out of all the things I no longer had and that was a terribly painful process. What also made it worse is that I had no “battle buddy” to walk the journey with me. I had a few family members but none who I really talked too about what I was going through on a daily basis. I might mention my struggles every now and then, but I never hashed it out.

I did utilize the services of a therapist and she was very supportive as I went through the “damage control” process. I found her most helpful as a support person for dealing with my last episode that resulted in a hospitalization. She helped me recover from the trauma inpatient care can sometimes inflict. As a matter of fact, I recently read someone’s blog where she was talking about how her therapist suggested she might have developed PTSD from a recent hospitalization. I have also been diagnosed with PTSD from things that happened during my episodes and then my subsequent hospitalizations. Trauma is trauma. Sometimes it does not necessarily matter, as much how we get to that point for the end result is similar.

Picking up the pieces of a shattered life is not a lot of fun. It is difficult to identify where you are going to start, let alone find the confidence to take one baby step forward and try. I found returning to my Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance group very helpful. Even though I have to admit I was skeptical that I would find as much support as I did. I simply did not know where to turn as I started piecing my life back together again, like a complex jigsaw puzzle with a million little pieces.

I actually sat down and made a plan. Even though I had an idea of what I wanted I knew if I could see it written down it may make even a bigger impact on me. So, I took each category of my Pie of Life and wrote it down and gave it a preliminary evaluation. I decided I would share with you my journey as I tediously rebuild my life.

I can tell you that in the area of relationships/friendships I have found great camaraderie in the blogging world. The active followers, viewers and readers have really made a difference in inspiring me to continue to write. It has also given me a connection to many individuals who understand the journey is not for the faint of heart. You have to dig down deep to want to attempt to rebuild your life. I have to give a big “thank you” to those who have encouraged me. I bet you didn’t know you had the power to influence a life when you wrote those comments or clicked on “like.” Little things make big differences!

I hope you will join me as I share the steps I am taking to build my life all over again. This is one way I know I will beat bipolar disorder.



36 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder Destroys Life and Then What?

      1. Dear Amy,

        If you glimpsed at my blog, you would have known yesterdays was one of the dreariest days of my life. I lost my lone brother, my love to BP and all.

  1. Hi Amy, What you expressed here sounds so much like what I’ve been feeling. While we are working towards building a new life, different than the one we knew prior to Bipolar disrupting it, we are still cycling big time. While taking meds faithfully, using coping skills, and trying to do and think right as much as possible, we still find ourselves feeling like we are at the mercy of the illness. But we aren’t. We aren’t at it’s mercy. We are doing all these right things. If we weren’t, we would be far worse off and we must remember that. Our lives are better than they were when we first got knocked off our feet. It’s not our old life, but it’s better than when we got knocked down. And you are sharing to help people know that, helping us not feel alone in this big world. Thanks, Amy. I’m glad your blog followers can be an encouragement to you.

    1. Hi Journeyupward!
      Thank you for your insightful comments! It is the battle against bipolar disorder that I have chosen to take on and I have convinced myself I am going to win! This is what your description sounds like to me and it also sounds like you are beating it too! Thanks for your vote of confidence and thank you for sharing.

  2. First of all I’m glad you are finding DBSA helpful. I don’t go anymore (I should), but at the time of my life I was going it helped me tremendously.

    Regarding writing. I started my blog in 2008 and took a break from it for awhile. When I started back I realized how cathartic it was and wondered why I ever stopped. I agree that it’s great to be a part of the blogging community.

    1. Hi Bradley,
      Thanks for your comment and for the vote of confidence with DBSA. I do enjoy my group and am glad I have started attending the meeting again. It’s a good group of people. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  3. I’m also trying to rebuild my life. I just had to resign from teaching after 17 years and I feel like my whole world has fallen apart. I no longer take any pleasure in former passions. I’ve lost the best parts of myself. I love working but I can’t work. I have a Masters + 30 credits and I can’t even work.
    I will be following your steps as you rebuild and perhaps we can encourage each other. I am still struggling with med combos but I plan to practice more cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Motivation is an ongoing battle and I’m having a difficult time processing information. Simple tasks take three times as long as before. It’s so frustrating. I fight every day and it’s exhausting.
    I have two children, a five year old daughter and a 14 year old stepson. I often feel so guilty because I am not on top of things like other parents. I worry that they will pick up on my illness or grow to resent that I am not that outgoing, involved parent who has kids over and makes them all lunch, volunteers at school, keeps a clean house, etc. I’m doing the best I can but my limitations frustrate and sadden me a great deal. I was always that energetic, fun, and creative person and now that I’m not, no one wants to be around me. It’s lonely. I guess they were never real friends to begin with but that’s also a sobering reality.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing your journey and I will be looking forward to it!

    1. Christina,
      I am so sorry you had to resign your teaching position. I had a long career myself and can truly understand how much of our identify and self-esteem is tied to our career. But it really sounds like you need to take a time out for yourself and work on getting your symptoms at a place where they won’t interfere as much with your life. Just because you have resigned from teaching you earned that Master’s plus 30 and it is not going anywhere. I also have a Master’s and sometimes I felt like what was all that work for…but I learned it doesn’t help your self-esteem to think that way. I learned I had to focus on being kind to myself and acknowledging I had an illness and most importantly that illness was not my fault. It is not your fault you got sick. Life will get better again. It takes time and patience and a whole lot of faith. Don’t give up hope whatever you do. Hang in there! Thank you so much for sharing. Amy

  4. Great post Amy and like you mental illness had none of the positive aspects that some with mental illness talk of. No creative highs. And where to start??? That million dollar question.
    I look forward to hearing more about your journey.
    cheers, Glenn

    1. Hi Glenn,
      Thanks for the vote of confidence. You know this recover journey and rebuilding life is kind of fun once you get going. I’m hoping to have lots of fun with all the new things that will present themselves to me. Glad you will be along for the ride!

      1. Had a great weekend Amy. Your post reflected my own experience of BiPolar, destructive all the way.

  5. Great post as usual, my friend!

    Yes, as you mentioned above, my therapist suggested that I had PTSD. I actually had a whopping SEVEN hospitalizations since 2007. The first one was two months after having a baby! 😦

    I have flashbacks from the lengthy amount of time I spent in those sterile, hideous, euphemistically named “behavioral health” units.

    When I drive by one of the hospitals I stayed at (it’s in my community) it’s a constant reminder to me of the worst times in my life.

    On a brighter note, I”m profoundly glad that those experiences are behind me. I hope and pray that I never ask to be hospitalized or be 5150’d again! I’m going to fight that possibility with all my might! I look forward to being your friend as we restore our lives and I think that very good things are in store for you, dear Amy!!

    1. Hello My Friend!
      So good to read your comment. I am so sorry you have flashbacks. I have lived through them and they are far from fun. But if you can make it through them you will be able to heal. I do think it would be difficult to drive by the hospital and think about the hospitalization. I have one in my small town, but I don’t pass it often and when I do I just call it a “dump” and laugh to myself knowing I’ll insist my family take me to a nicer place if I ever need it again. Thank you so much for your vote of confidence in me. I am smiling as I write these words. I have hope again and that is just an awesome feeling. I just feel like saying, “I’m back!” Thank you!

  6. I have been rebuilding my life for a long time. I was diagnosed when I was 19 and now I am 44. I’ve had a lot of steps forward and then back again. I’ve found supportive people in my DBSA support group and at church. It really helps to have found people who understand my situation and offer help as needed.

    1. Andrea,
      That is so great that you have such a wonderful support system. And you are so right..on the journey we have times when things are going well and times when setbacks occur. Just good to know you have support in place. Thanks so much for adding to the discussion.

  7. It is a daily battle, even after the breakdowns, or hospitalizations, trials of different medications, therapy sessions, etc. etc. And few people understand. The blogging friends, however ephemeral, understand more than my supposed “real” friends. Blogosphere allows for more openness and honesty, at least for me. I say things here I have never told my “real” friends and never will most likely. But I have a husband who became a psychiatric social worker after we were married some years and I have to say he is the only non-BP who really does understand. He has a mental illness himself so that helps, too. But, you are right, blogging is a great outlet and there is a support group out there somewhere. I wish you the very best in your recovery. Even though I started off this comment saying it is a daily battle, recovery is the goal to strive towards and is possible to varying degrees.

    1. Hi Stockdalewolfe,
      Thank you for sharing your perspective about recovery. You are truly right it is a daily battle to live with bipolar disorder and the management of the illness that comes with it. But I can say it does get easier once the symptoms are resolved or mostly resolved. This is what I had to focus on first, getting the medications right and keeping symptoms at bay. But I do believe in recovery and I know it is a lifelong journey..but I am up for the challenge! Thanks for writing.

      1. You are welcome. I wish you the best in your recovery. I chronicled my recovery in an autobiography recently reviewed. Should you be interested, drop by to have a look. In any case, it is possible to recover and you will. Especially if you believe… besides we are all on life-long journeys, even the supposedly “normal people.” Getting the medications right is a HUGE step!

  8. I love how you describe bipolar as ‘mutilates’ your life. That’s such a good description! And I like that you have a solid, written plan of action. Personally, I wouldn’t know where to start – but just mulling it over is a start, I guess. I will join you on your journey. My own life lies in pieces. But we’re a tough lot 🙂

    1. Hi Pieces of Bipolar,
      Thank you for your comment. If you wanted to jot down a few things on paper you could. I just found categories that resonated with me. Like: relationships, friendships, spiritual, financial, work, mental health, and physical health. Then I started evaluating where I am on each path. It has taken me a long time to do this and now I am just walking that journey forward and writing about it as I move along the path. I’m glad you are reading and contributing to the discussion. We are a tough lot as you say. Thank you for commenting.

  9. I won’t bother you with a lot tonight. I just want you to know that I read your blog and think you are very courageous and I always find some insight in your blog posts or something to think about further.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. Some days I don’t feel like I have a lot of courage but I will take your compliment and hold onto it. Thank you!

  10. I am rebuilding my life also. I found out no human power could relieve bi polar. Only a god power. Go to church or synaguage to pray to god and will give you the answers. A good step recovery program is celebrate recovery. You will lead a good life with this

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