After being a fan of the International Bipolar Foundation blogging community, it is an honor to share my perspectives about living with bipolar disorder with you. I wish to help you feel less alone in living with this mood disorder, and to emulate the I.B.F.’s mission to “erase stigma through education.”
I grew up close to my violinist father who had bipolar one disorder. Dad promised me that I would “never get it”. Interestingly, many of his fellow colleagues in his orchestra (one of the world’s top orchestras) had bipolar as well.
At age sixteen I visited my Dad at his psychiatric unit, bringing his million-dollar Stradivarius violin as he requested. I got my hand slapped for that one, but I didn’t care, as I felt terrible that he was deeply depressed. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be hospitalized for the same illness over two decades later.
Six weeks after the birth of my daughter, I became manic due to a combination of extreme sleep deprivation, genetic predisposition, and hormones. My husband persuaded me to check myself into the local hospital. At first I resisted going there as my manic state made me feel invincible; moreover, I didn’t want to leave my adorable newborn. I thought that I would somehow magically convince the staff that I didn’t need their services, but I was placed on a 5150 hold.
When I called my father from the unit’s pay phone to tell him I was diagnosed with bipolar, he cried, as he felt responsible. When he died in 2009, I became suicidal and I was hospitalized for the second time. I missed his funeral and felt so despondent that I asked for ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatments.
Over the years since that time, I tried over twenty different medications to no avail. I was burned out. I researched those with bipolar who lived medication-free and I consulted a famous expert. I decided to do a slow taper off meds. At first it seemed like I was doing better, but then I became manic. You can guess the rest. I was hospitalized and felt suicidal. Then I tried a new medication combination. This “cocktail” lifted my depression and I got my life back. Now I accept taking medication and incorporating holistic modalities. After feeling inhuman for so long, I feel hopeful. I look forward to sharing my journey with you.