A friend called me recently and requested that I write her an email about what it means to be bipolar because a member of her family has just been diagnosed with the illness.
From the outset of any discussion about Bipolar Affective Disorder, it must be understood that, as soon as someone is diagnosed, they must be placed on medication. Only medication, or chemicals, will treat the terrible chemical imbalance going on inside a manic depressive’s mind. Therefore, the right concoction of medications is the first and best way to start for the purpose of stabilizing and thereby feeling better. No bipolar individual will get better without the assistance of medication.
I remember my first depressive incident. I was 6 years old. My family had just moved from Brantford to Hamilton, Ontario, which obviously caused the stress to send me over the edge. The move sent my mind into a whirl and I became severely depressed. I remember walking alone through the vacant lot on one side of my parents’ house. I was very sad and I couldn’t bring myself out of it. I thought that I just couldn’t go on.
During my whole childhood, I was sent to numerous psychologists and psychiatrists. Bipolar was not diagnosed at that age and I was treated as a spoiled brat looking for attention. I knew there was something wrong with me. I could feel it, but no one would listen to me. It was as if I was in a glass box with everyone looking in but unable to get out.
Finally, I was diagnosed as bipolar when I was 27 years old by an excellent psychiatrist who is still my psychiatrist today. He is a drug doctor. His specialty is medications and I must have tried maybe 25 or more medications until I was able to find the right concoction for me. Some medications didn’t work. Some gave me bad side effects. Those meds I stopped quickly. Over the years, I have changed my medications many times. Finally, I have settled on two medications which keep me basically stable. I still do have times of depression and mania when I am unable to function, but those moments are not as bad as they would be if I wasn’t taking medications.
One problem many mentally ill people have in common is going off their medications when they felt better. You feel better because you are taking the medications and, if you go off the medications, you will get sick. Once on medication, you MUST keep taking those medications for the rest of your life. If you are diagnosed as bipolar or any other mental illness, then you must face the fact you will be taking medications for the rest of your life. Nothing to be ashamed of or a game. Medications must be taken every day.
If you are interested in the characteristics of bipolar, check out this list on my website: