The next challenge in my journey was that my psychiatrist diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder about 12 years ago (he told me the diagnosis in 2010 only when I asked him about it). It was quite confronting at first, as I was unsure what it meant. When I later found out it was a mood disorder, I understood more about it and it explained my sudden mood swings on occasion. I was prescribed lithium, which is a mood stabilizing medication which helped me to regulate sharp variations in my mood so that I could get through each day. Specifically, mania is the high mood where I felt on top of the world and depression is low mood but I never experienced severe bouts of depression.
I disclosed my bipolar to only my closest friends. Thankfully they were understanding and sympathetic as they learned what I was going through. I struggled to accept my diagnosis, however I felt encouraged after I read a book about Bipolar Disorder. It explained the symptoms, the best ways to manage my condition and how I could live a normal and productive life by setting goals and achieving them. Having healthy relationships and a good support network is highly important to me.
I now know that anyone who has a mental illness is not defined by that illness. To say that “I’m bipolar” is inaccurate, I just happen to have Bipolar Disorder and I am managing it the best way I know how. I am in a happy place now mainly due to my faith which has given me peace and kept my feet on the ground. I feel God has truly blessed me in so many ways and I have a lot to be grateful for. This is the light at the end of the tunnel I wrote about in my last post. My hope and prayer is that this encourages others out there who may be suffering from a mental illness.