Have you ever stopped to think what it may be like to live with bipolar disorder? Probably not, unless you have a loved one who is impacted by it or you are personally affected. So I want to take a few minutes to describe what living with bipolar disorder is like for me.
First of all, living with a mental illness affects your self-esteem and confidence. There is not many things worse than getting a psychiatric diagnosis by our cultural standards. This is why I get so passionate about mental health awareness. You cannot receive treatment for something if you don’t know what you are dealing with and yet the moment you get that “label” it can change how you think about yourself and how others see you.
Second, treatment is available and in most cases it works. The downside is that it can take ten years to find the right combination of medications that work for each person. Now for a moment imagine what it would be like to constantly change medications. I believe I have taken more than 30 different meds before finally finding the right combination. It is a long frustrating journey.
Third, medications have side effects. It takes time and sometimes learning lessons the hard way before you understand for most people you can never stop taking medications for the remainder of your life. No matter how many articles I have found where people say they get along great without medications, in my experience it is never an option for me not to take bipolar meds. Even though the side effects of weight gain and slow metabolism feed into that whole idea of lack of confidence and self-esteem, it is still far better to be overweight than mentally unstable.
Finally, once you have recovered no one would ever know you live with an invisible illness. You cannot see bipolar disorder and unless I hadn’t told the world I live with it you would never know. This is one of the many benefits of recovering and that I can attest is something you can do!
Living with bipolar disorder is just a fact of life for me. But the journey was long and arduous before I could get to this point. If you are a family member of a loved one who lives with bipolar disorder keep the faith your loved one will get better. And if you live with bipolar disorder keep on fighting it will get better.