By: Nancy Travers
If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, it’s important to understand there are many forms of depression. Basically, Bipolar Disorder involves episodes of depression and mania. Bipolar I Disorder involves severe mood swings while Bipolar II involves milder episodes of hypomania that alternate with severe depression. There are other variations of Bipolar Disorder as well, and in the end, every person is different. There are many treatment options depending on the type of depression you have.
Once you are diagnosed with a life long illness, it’s hard not to ask, Why me? Lynda had her master’s degree in business. She came from a respectable, upper middle class family with no history of mental illness that she knew of. She was a high achiever, did well at work, and sometimes she could be incredibly productive operating on very little sleep.
When Lynda was in her twenties, her body seemed to switch gears and she knew something was wrong. Her relationships became rocky and she sometimes spent money with wild abandon on things she couldn’t afford. She became severely depressed. When her psychologist told her she thought Lynda suffered from bipolar disorder, Lynda was stunned by the news.
It can be a frightening diagnosis, and many people take years to accept it. Sometimes they do accept it at first, but then feel fine on medication and reject taking their medication. Then they have to recommit. And that’s what being successful takes—a commitment. Lynda eventually took heart by understanding that she had to alter her lifestyle. There were things within her control that she could do to make her life better.
Get the right diagnosis. Misdiagnosis is common, and it makes a difficult time even more difficult. But be persistent. Getting the right diagnosis is critical because treatment for the wrong disease may exacerbate your condition. So be sure to get multiple opinions from certified professionals.
Educate yourself. Forewarned is forearmed. Know and understand your condition as thoroughly as you can. And don’t depend on just one source. You must become as knowledgeable as you can so you can be your own advocate.
Regulate your lifestyle. Lynda’s episodes were sporadic so at first it didn’t feel like she had an illness—just a temporary problem. But every time she went off her meds her problems returned. She realized she had to be disciplined in staying on her medication. She also had to dedicate herself to a healthy way of life, with regular exercise and a proper diet.
Even though Lynda found it hard to accept her diagnosis, when she finally did she was then able to improve the quality of her life. By accepting her problem and educating herself she empowered herself to take control of her condition. Accepting the diagnosis was critical to Lynda’s being able to treat the illness effectively.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling Professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact