The best part about having bipolar disorder, is knowing you have bipolar disorder. There aren’t any other tangible benefits, but there are definite ways to cope.
Even though I had hundreds of friends and thousands online friends, life after my diagnosis was particularly lonely. I had been diagnosed during a depressive state- a very intense depressive one. During this period, I had dropped out of my third year University project, been hospitalised and had attempted suicide. But no one knew. I switched my cell phone off as I just wanted to be alone, my son missed school because I couldn’t get out of bed to take him. I had no energy to care.
All I did was cry.
All I could hear was the sound of my own voice (I think) repeatedly telling me how worthless I am.
All I saw were the faces of people disappointed in me, peering down at me.
I whimpered to the bathroom and back, for a few weeks.
“All she can do is, sleep it off.” My psychiatrist told my then (new) boyfriend. What a first impression!
So I slept. The Lithium prescribed took a while to kick in. Every session I went to I looked a little less scruffy, frazzled and poor.
I fell pregnant. That kind of messed the whole cycle up. I changed psychiatrists and she guided me through the pregnancy. It was in itself a torturous journey, as my volatile hormones would negatively affect the medication. There were so many dark days, but we made it.
I decided to rediscover who I was, an individual separate to the illness. I wrote poetry, I wrote blog posts- I shared my story. I started connecting to others who have bipolar disorder online, and found a great source of comfort. Not only are there thousands of sufferers, but they are individually gifted with talents and skills. They truly were a source of wealth in experience and advice.
Today, they are a source of motivation and if you ask nicely, they even pose as watchmen and nudge you, if you are feeling low. Most importantly, they hold you accountable to yourself. You are accountable for managing your illness. Just like a diabetic (people love comparing Bipolar disorder to Diabetes), requires insulin, you require medication, sleep and a good support structure.
The most rewarding journey in life, as someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder, starts with when you take that first pill. That first pea-sized, dollop of hope. While you can’t kiss the past goodbye, you can look onto the future yearning for a life where you’ll be more aware. You’ll note every sip of alcohol, every cup of coffee, every wink of sleep, every stressful situation you’ll try to avoid. All of this we do, just to be able to live the next day.
I admit that sometimes we do get tired of living so cautiously, we’re overwhelmed and we drink too much and sleep too little. We take wrong turns and end up lost again.
But it does get better, we get better. We become better at managing it all. We pick up the pieces and comply with dosages of medication.
We seek help.
We see the sun set. And we wake up with the new day whether it’s in the psychiatric ward or our own beds. But we wake up.
We live life on purpose, with purpose.
Bipolar Disorder is not the end, it’s a new beginning.