Something I am Proud Of:
After a mental breakdown during my master’s program in 2016, I lost myself in a trail of black and white thinking, suicidal ideation, and catastrophic thinking (i.e. imagining the worst for my life). In short, from June 2016 – June 2017, I was unable to see my life clearly and had on very narrow blinders for my life lens.
Although I was in therapy that entire time, I was too stubborn to be vulnerable and honest with my therapist at the time, as I was used to acting that everything was fine and rose-colored. This caused immense dishonesty with myself, as I couldn’t truly gauge how I was doing, or even feel the anxiety in my chest or fear in my throat. I was very, very disconnected from my body.
However, after a very therapeutic therapy session in June 2017, I was able to finally release the fears that were causing my suicidal ideation, through the form of tears. My overall victory came in the form of a master’s thesis, which allowed me to graduate from my school with top marks. This was as incredible feat for me at the time, as by the time I had gotten out of my depression in June 2017, I only had 3 months to complete an entire thesis. I conquered the odds and finished my master’s degree, and I am so proud of that!
Advice for Newly Diagnosed:
My advice for the newly diagnosed is firstly, to just breathe through the fears. It will get easier. Whether you know everything about bipolar because a family member suffers, or you know a little bit through a psychology class, every diagnosis is different. There are stereotypical videos you will see online and stories you will hear that may not have anything to do with your story. There is so much that researchers, therapists, and doctors don’t know about bipolar, so please don’t feel frightened about your future. Bipolar can be managed and it is incredibly possible to have a happy and joyful life!
Secondly, I advise you learn more about cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This therapy style challenged me to shift my own thinking and patterns of destruction…for example, my huge triggers are being vulnerable around men, specifically when sharing my stories of prior break-ups. In the past, these vulnerabilities have been met with resistance on my part, and I end up in a manic episode rather than face my fears of getting hurt, again. The CBT method challenges me to see the world through a lens that encourages me to face my fears. For those that know CBT, the hot thought is, “I cannot be vulnerable, or I will get hurt again,” which is untrue. Just because this happened in the past, I do not want to miss out on opportunities to find a partnership because of my distorted thinking.
My advice is to begin to watch the thoughts that cause manic behavior, and then use CBT (with the help of a professional) to challenge the distorted thinking.
Bipolar Wanderings resides in Southern California and has ambitions to attend graduate school. However, she is open to whatever the universe presents and seeks to listen to this guidance every day. Her blog is bipolarwanderings.com.