REAL Talk- Living and loving with bi-polar disorder

The United States has the highest lifetime rate of bipolar disorder at 4.4% (cnn.com) – that’s 5.7 million Americans (source). That’s a lot of people running around on medication, not on medication, people who spent their teen years perhaps undiagnosed and having social and family problems and possibly being called “crazy”…That has to take a toll on a person. Ever wonder how a person with bi-polar disorder does with friendships, family members, co-workers, roommates, lovers, etc? We decided to reach out to a person who not only suffers from the disorder but also was running a support group for like-minded individuals to help each other cope. This what she had to say on the matter:

WINK: What, would you say, was the first relationship that suffered in your life, before realizing you were bipolar?

When I was young, my family really didn’t know how to deal with me, especially my dad after my mother’s suicide when I was 4 years old.

How did that person or people first react to your mood swings and other personality traits that go with the disorder?

I had outrageous anger outbursts, and my dad would tell me “You are just like your mother.” I was very talkative, and my brother and father would just talk over me until I would stop. I think their intent was if they ignored the problem it would go away.

What was the way you coped at first?

I spent a lot of time in my room buried in books. Reading was a great escape from a lonely life.

How long until you were actually diagnosed?

I suffered a severe depression in 2004 at age 29 after years of mood swings and overall depression. I wanted to die, to just have the pain and sadness end, and I knew I had to get help. Luckily my doctor asked the right questions and determined that I had bipolar 2 and not just depression, which makes a big difference in treatment. It was at this point that a lot of things started to make more sense. My mother’s suicide was most likely due to undiagnosed bipolar, but they didn’t have the knowledge and treatments available in the 70′s that they do today. If it wasn’t for what happened to my mother, I might not be alive today. I promised myself that I would never make the same choice she did.

 At that point, how long did it take for you to feel like you had it under control and could relax and live your life?

With medication and therapy, the deepest depression began to lift in a few months, but it was probably about 3 years until I was pretty stable. And even now I have up and down waves of my moods but they are much less disruptive than before I was receiving treatment.

Would you say it has hindered you in any way in your personal relationships? If so, in what ways?

I know that my rambling uncontrolled talking has been a turn off to people I have met over the years. But I also learned that some of the things that certain people don’t like about my personality are the same traits that my close friends love about me. Even though I am an outgoing person, I still have social anxiety in large groups and feel more comfortable with a few close friends.

Have you discovered any holistic methods that have been helpful to you or others?

There are definitely some lifestyle changes and non medication treatments that keep me stable, like going to therapy, attending support groups, and trying to keep a consistent work and sleep schedule. You don’t just take a pill and get better, it’s a constant effort.

Is there one thing you wish the people who are unfamiliar with the disorder would understand?

Personality traits of people with bipolar can sometimes kill friendships, but what the person really needs are friends who listen and care. For me, depression is loneliness.

One important thing above all else that would help people who are affected by this deal with it better?

When things are bad or out of control,  just remind yourself that this is only temporary. Things will change, things will get better. There are people out there who can help you get through this.

-guest writer, Kara

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2 Responses to REAL Talk- Living and loving with bi-polar disorder

  1. John Doe says:

    What do you do when you know you are in a very dark place, and you need help badly, but you do not trust anyone??? I want to be balanced, my life is out of control. I am in jeopardy of loosing my job, my health, my friends, and I simply do not care. This stupid disease has ripped the good right out of me and left me here to walk this earth a miserable young adult. When I think of starting a medication treatment plan, I cringe at the thought of it. I was committed against will a while back, and those so called “doctors” at the clinic DID NOT listen to me, they shoved strong drugs (an anti-psychotic- Geodon) down my throat. They called me an alcoholic (at the time I drank heavy to deal with things, but a slap in the face to them, I do not drink at all now), but most importantly they gave me false confidence in dealing with this illness. I do not want to take medacine again (although I desperately need something to keep me balanced) because I do not want to loose my creative, funny, quirky, Dorky side of me that people have grown to know and love. I would much rather loose my whole self than to loose a part of me. HELP????!!!!

    • winkpinup says:

      Hmm I’d recommend getting therapy without drugs- go to a psychologist- they can’t prescribe pills– and try to work through your issues that way! It takes work- try exercise too- for christs sake people need to recognize that exercise, what you eat, and sleep makes all the difference

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