As a New Year, 2013, is just days away there are two things that immediately pop into my mind. First is reflection of the past year and how I would like next year to be different. Second, it starts raining weight loss commercials on the television. For me, having bipolar disorder and the prospect of a new year was always like a ying-yang. Good mixed with bad or dark mixed with light. I tended to focus on all the bad things around this time when designing resolutions for the year.
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I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few months after turning 18 years old in 2003. While that seems so long ago, one would think 10 years is enough time to figure out how to perfectly manage my illness and life. The truth of the matter is, I am still learning and the things I have learned up to this point in my life, I have learned the hard way.
I used to believe in the saying “you can’t really love someone until you love yourself”. I used to also believe in the idea “coping skills are productive if they help you deal with a life situation”. Well, at age 27, I can definitely say I don’t believe in either exact saying or the idea anymore.
I have a hard time truly disclosing to anyone how I am doing on the inside. Mood charts were very vague for me and the more I got used to the typical mood rating conversation, the easier it was to not disclose my thoughts and feelings, especially if I wasn’t directly asked. The typical conversation usually went like this:
Doc: Can you rate your mood for me? 1 is the lowest your mood can be and 10 are the highest it can be.
Doc: Oh so, somewhere around the middle?
Me: Yeah, I guess.
[End of mood conversation]
It is August, and around this time for the last 9 years, I think back to 2002 and getting ready to start my freshman year of college in a new state, new town, and not knowing a single soul. Little did I know how life changing or should I say life altering and an unforeseen disaster it would be.
In 2003, I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, a few months after my 18th birthday. I had many other diagnoses during the early years of my diagnosis including depression, generalized anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, and bulimia. In 2011, I finally received a neurological diagnosis of spastic and ataxic cerebral palsy after searching for a diagnosis since childhood. Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive brain disorder that affects my overall motor functioning.