Something I am Proud Of:
Despite my diagnosis of Bipolar I, and despite the highs and mostly lows I experience, I was able to earn a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology which included a 6-month practicum of therapist training in a psychiatric hospital. This helped me to understand how therapy works, how to work with a therapist, and I also learned a great deal about psychotropic medicines. After my MA, I earned a Doctor of Psychology degree. I’ve been a special education teacher for 20 years and a professor of education for another 10 years. Somehow, I manage to “fake it” in front of people who don’t deserve my story. I have a wonderful psychiatrist that I have worked with for 15 years. I take 6 medications every day to ward off the most serious symptoms of bipolar disorder. The decisions of what to take and how much to take has always been a “team” decision. Most of all, I think that what makes a person with Bipolar successful in life is staying alive. Anyone who has Bipolar and is still alive is successful!
Advice for Newly Diagnosed:
- Keep trying psychiatrists until you find one who listens and who works WITH you to determine your best treatment plan.
- Take your meds faithfully.
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep.
- Learn as much as you can about your diagnosis and medications – READ everything!
- One of my favorite books is actually for teachers. It is:
- William Dikel, (2019) Student Mental Health: A Guide for Teachers, School and District Leaders, Psychologists and Nurses, Social Workers, Counselors, and Parents. ( $19.22 on Amazon Kindle). They should have written a similar book for clients, but I have yet to find one.
I also want to share that life with BPD is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. I have a lot of systems in place for support when I’m unwell. Systems and coping strategies are a must! A support system around you is a must. Only sharing your information with people who you trust and who deserve to hear your story is critical to avoid stigma. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone! There are more of us out there than you might think! And lastly, for me, I couldn’t do this without a strong religious faith and a wonderful faith community. That, too, is hard to find. But don’t give up – they are out there!