Every so often I take a look at the blogs I have written over the past four years and see which ones people view the most. Tonight I noticed one of the most popular was “Rebuilding a Bipolar Life.” It was written almost four years ago. It had to do with my quest to work on my spiritual self.
Another blog that has been very popular has been “Bipolar Disorder Destroys Life and then what’s next?” It was written a little over three years ago. If you’ve been following my blog or Facebook page you probably know I have found my “what’s next.”
After reading the blogs and comments I’m inspired to write a letter to my fellow bipolar warriors about some of the things I’ve learned from reflecting back in time.
Dear Bipolar Warriors,
I’m not sure where you are in the journey of living with bipolar disorder. You may be newly diagnosed and confused as heck about this illness. You might still be struggling trying to find the right combinations of medications. Like me, you may have experienced a significant amount of loss because of bipolar disorder. Maybe you’re kicking it and have mastered how to live well with bipolar. Wherever you are on the journey here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
Living with a chronic mental illness is challenging. Okay. That’s clearly an understatement. There are challenges with people who are close to you understanding the illness, accepting that sometimes you’re not always going to feel well and giving you a chance to live to your potential when you are well. There are complications with relationships. It all gets better over time.
Some days it gets frustrating to have to fill pill boxes (I fill three weeks at a time). But looking back I can tell you there was a time when I would sit on the edge of my bed, dump the pills in my hand and begrudge having to take them. I would think, “I’m sick. Why me?” Then I would swallow them and go to bed feeling “less than.” Fast forward over three years, it’s just part of my every day habit. The pill boxes make it easy. It’s a habit and I rarely ever forget to take the medications. That’s what has been keeping me healthy.
But. It doesn’t mean I have to like the whole process. I don’t like having to call in the pharmacy for all my meds. It’s a pain. Some days I wish I didn’t have to do this, but it’s all part of managing the illness. Without meds I have no idea where I’d be and I’m not ever going to take that chance to find out. One could say, “Been there, done that.” If you’re curious about that journey you can find my book “Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor” on Amazon.
I am a strong proponent of finding the right combination of medications. Besides my own story, I have my mother and sister’s examples and almost all the people who I have met needed medications to deal with this very tricky illness. But it’s a bear finding the right ones. Don’t give up. Keep trying. If you don’t like the doctor you are seeing, find a new one. Learn about the medications for bipolar disorder. Click here to find information on medications.
I can also share with you that recovery is possible and very likely if you have the knowledge, determination and access to care necessary. But it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. For those who don’t know, I’m an Olympic athlete and that was pretty darn challenging. Recovery makes training for the Olympics seem easy. And let’s not forget recovery does not mean “cured.” It means different things to different people. For me, it means I can use my talents and skills and contribute to my community. It means I live a peaceful existence. And I mange my illness to the best of my ability.
But. There are other warriors out there who are in pain. They’re having a frustrating time with dealing with bipolar. Medications are causing bad side effects. I understand. What I can tell you from experience is don’t give up.
I’m gonna sum it all up and say what has worked for me might not work for you. But I can tell you that you must have a desire to get well, dedication to find a successful treatment plan, discipline to stick with the treatment plan and the determination to beat this very challenging competitor.
Good luck warriors. You are not alone.