Bipolar Disorder: Until There’s A Cure

When I first started writing about mental illness and specifically bipolar disorder, I wanted to shed light on topics that affected me. I know I am not the only one in this world who has been met with life altering effects from an illness that does not have a cure. I cannot even begin to imagine what a cure would do to the many people who struggle with this chronic illness.

But the reality is we have no cure for bipolar disorder. With continued research there is always hope that one day others may not have to suffer with this relentless illness.

The good news is we do have more treatment options today than we did even five years ago. The medications are more tolerable and can help stabilize those of us who manage the mania and depressive swings. I only wish that it were not so hard for some people to seek treatment and know that life can get better when your mood swings aren’t controlling your daily living.

When I was working the other day a young man came into the store and ask me to help him. I started talking with him only to find out that like me, he too suffered with bipolar disorder. The more we talked the more apparent it became that he was unstable. I ask if he could get medical attention and he said he had access to care but didn’t believe in it.

My heart was breaking as he told me his story. He was sleeping in a local truck stop in the lounge at night because he was afraid to go to the local homeless shelter. He had been living on the streets for nearly four years. I told him that must be a tough life to which he replied, “It’s not bad living on the street if you have money.”

As it turns out this 24 year old young man had access to social security, but because of his state of mind he had ended up living on the street. He explained to me that he had recently gotten out of jail for making threatening comments to a police officer. He spent two months in jail not exactly a good place for receiving mental health treatment.

He left the store without buying anything and continued walking through the parking lot to other businesses. I thought to myself it is just a matter of time before he ends up back in the hands of law enforcement.

I wanted so much to help that young man, but there was nothing I could do except continue to raise awareness about mental illness. It caused me to pause and think about how fortunate I really am. Even though my life has been altered I have been blessed to have many safety nets in place and fortunate enough that my own mental illness did not take me down until much later in life.

By the time I was 24 years old, I had already walked into Olympic Stadium in Seoul, Korea as an Olympic Athlete; completed a college degree and was working for a Fortune 500 company.  My journey included many struggles with mental illness but those struggles got worse as I got older and my illness worsened. Many people are not as fortunate as I have been and for a moment in time I realized that those of us who have been blessed have a responsibility to others who are less fortunate and may not have a voice.

I don’t know why any of us have to suffer from a mental illness, but I do know that until there is a cure we must continue to raise awareness that mental illness can be treated. Lives are precious and those who cannot help themselves are dependent on those of us who can make a difference.



16 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder: Until There’s A Cure

  1. I agree. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how we best help those who do not want treatment. Similarly when we care for someone with substance abuse issues, we cannot make them choose recovery or sobriety.

    1. I understand what you are saying and that’s a good comparison. I just can’t help but feeling compassion towards those who have gone down a tough road because of their mental illness. Thanks for taking the time to comment Kitt.

  2. Amen, Amy. The truth. Beautifully said.Thank you for sharing this post. It breaks my heart when I see someone struggling with Bipolar disorder or mental illness and I can relate to the pain, but am unable to change things for them. I simply pray. You are so right-we must press on in raising awareness to help those who are still in the darkest struggles.

    1. Hi Amanda,
      Thanks for commenting. I think there is no worse feeling than to feel helpless. I just hope we all can continue the conversation about mental illness it can only help the cause.

  3. So good to see you back blogging, Amy! This was a beautifully written post and it was sad too when it came to the young man you spoke with. You were incredibly kind and compassionate to speak with him the way you did. You’re an amazing person who has accomplished so much – participating in an Olympics in Seoul, Korea must have been simply out-of-this-world!

    Yes, we must continue reminding ourselves that although bipolar has taken from us, we can still appreciate our blessings as you emphasized. We can still raise awareness, as you adeptly pointed out.

    And I’m still hoping for a cure on our lifetime!!!! 🙂

    1. Hi Dyane,
      As always your comment is so right on. I am glad to be back in blogger world just hope I can continue to connect with others. Hope you are doing awesome!

      1. Hi again, sweet Amy.

        I’m having one of those days….I may be entering the perimenopausal time (sorry, TMI) but I’m going to work out on the elliptical tonight. It always helps me to do that, unless I have a terrible cold/cough like I did in October, ugh – it went on for a long time – as an Olympic athlete I know you can relate to how important exercise is! 🙂

        So I’m not doing awesome per se, but I’m hanging in there. Every day I get out of bed, function, and stay out of the hospital is a triumph – that sounds melodramatic, but it’s true.

        Again, I’m really happy to see you back to blogging – it didn’t seem right without you! Forgive me for not checking in – I’ve been in a self-absorbed world over the past few months, and I promise not to do that again to you!


      2. Sorry you aren’t feeling great. But you are so right to count all those success markers–like getting up everyday and facing the world. And of course staying out of the hospital is such a big deal. So kudos to you for fighting the good fight! Glad to be back…I’ve missed it.

  4. I can relate to this post. I had a friend a while back that was obviously bipolar. He did not “believe” in the appropriate meds, but he self-medicated heavily. I tried to help him and show him by example that the right meds could help. He didn’t listen, and I felt helpless.

    1. I know what you mean about feeling helpless. It’s a tough position to be in especially when you know how both sides feel. I hope your friend got some help.

      1. While you’ve been accomplishing big goals, my health has gone down. So forgive comments with wrong words or spelled wrong. If you haven’t read my Lyme Journal in a while, when you have a minute read a couple so you don’t find yourself with Lyme.
        Take care.
        Big Hugs

  5. Hey Amy, I wonder if the young guy was paranoid regarding his not wanting to take medication? I agree that seeing others going unsupported and untreated is hard. Good on you for taking the time to talk to him and for sharing his story.

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