As a person growing up with a bipolar/schizophrenic mother who first tried to commit suicide when I was five, you think that I would have been ready for my bipolar diagnosis. Since it didn't come until I was 47, though, I was thrown completely for a loop. I had been diagnosed with depression for a year. My doctor finally said that the medication wasn't working and that she thought I had bipolar disorder. I literally felt that she had socked me in the stomach. That was the worst day of my life. My mom lived a life of total chaos, sometimes taking her meds and sometimes not. I thought that I was now condemned to that chaos for the rest of my life.
I started seeing a series of psychiatrists. I was very lucky in that my boss was a good friend and could tell that I was working hard to deal with my condition and still do a good job at work. Also, my family was supportive and my two best friends, Becky and Sue, were life-savers.
But that didn't help how I felt inside. I spent two years calling myself a freak and any other names I could think of. I had never had a role model that showed me it was possible to live a "normal" life as someone with bipolar disorder. Slowly I learned that was possible.
In April of 2009 I was laid off. I spent 2 years looking for work, terrified that I would end up in a stressful situation that would trigger my bipolar. And, of course, I couldn't tell them that I had bipolar disorder in the interview. Next. Eventually someone suggested that I apply for permanent disability. I ended up getting a lawyer who went to my church and it took only 4 months for me to receive my permanent disability, which everyone said was a miraculously short amount of time.
Today, I have a good life. It seems strange to me to be "retired" at age 54 but I have made a life. I do some volunteering and I sing at my church for services, weddings and funerals. I have found a wonderful psychiatrist and, though we are once again fiddling with my meds, I trust him completely.
So, even though this was one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through, I have and will continue to make it through.
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