Facing the Bipolar Giant

Oftentimes, those of us who have Bipolar Disorder feel like we are facing a giant that seems unbearable.  And in all reality, you’re right!  It won’t go away and we somehow have to come to grips with dealing with a disease that few people understand.  It has been my experience since the diagnosis of this disease that education is power.  That power can help us conquer our fears about the disease itself.

When I was first diagnosed I wasn’t scared.  I had a flippant attitude about it all and thought I could control it myself.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  I did start taking the medications but when I felt better I stopped taking them.  Oh my!  How many of us have done that?  It wasn’t long before I was admitted to the local psychiatric ward of a hospital because I was out of control with a manic high.  Oh boy!  Then, we all know what happens after a manic high, right?  I crashed good and hard!  You think that taught me the lesson?  Nope!  Because I was a flippant 22 year old at the time.  I had a hard head and lessons were not easily learned for me.

However, as time went on I realized that I was facing a bigger giant than I had anticipated.  Finally, when I was twenty-four-years-old I realized I had better get this under control if I wanted to keep my job and my friends and family.  This was a giant I became scared of at this point.  I becamse acutely aware of my disease.  That was when I started asking a lot of questions.  But the psychiatrist I had at the time couldn’t answer much of what I wanted to know so I promptly found another provider.

When I was living in Washington state there was a class offered through a local mental health agency.  It was called Welcome to the World of Psychosis.  It was a four-month class offered to those with mental illnesses.  It was the best thing I had ever done for myself at that point.  They covered everything in that class from all different forms of mental illnesses, medications and the different types, psychotherapy, and so much more.  After I finished this course I felt like I had knowledge to support myself.  I knew that my illness wasn’t my fault.  It taught us how to care for ourselves, how to pinpoint our triggers, how to find providers that fit our personal situations, and oh so much more.  How I wish this type of class was offered everywhere so you could learn, too.

However, I have found information through many other resources.  I have read a few good books, listened to some good speakers, and found great information on different websites.  We don’t have to face this giant alone.  There are so many materials out there for us.  Here are a few that helped me.

Some books are Moodswing by Ronald R. Fieve, The Bipolar Disorder Survivial Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know by David Jay Miklowitz, and this one is for families and it’s called Loving Somebody with Bipolar Disorder by Julie A. Fast.  These have been some very helpful books.

Also, some websites I have found helpful are www.bipolarworld.net, and www.moodswing.org.  These are sites that have helped me.  I am sure there are plenty more.

Never be afraid to ask questions about your disease.  It is true that education of the disease can help you. Once I started learning about my disease and put my heart into controlling it and working for myself I started to become very stable.  I still have my ups and downs.  I just went through a very tough time the end of last year.  I could hardly function at one point but I am back at my baseline now.

Be sure and surround yourself with others who care about you if you can.  I know, we who have this disease tend to push others away at times.  I think that’s pretty normal but try not to isolate.  Those are the times we need others the most.

Sometimes, Bipolar Disorder can look like a giant to us.  Be sure and reach out and ask for help to deal with it.  The more education you have the better I believe a person can deal with this and can learn to function each day!

Remember, education is power!  That is one thing that can help us face the giant!

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