I’m Scared to be Diagnosed with Bipolar Because it Killed My Dad

I have always suffered from anxiety as long as I can remember. I’m 27 now and stopped taking my tablets a few months ago. I was starting to feel anxious again, but when I went to my doctor, she said I was hyper and basically high as a kite. (I’m always like that.) She said it could be my body reacting to the anxiety, but she also thought it could be more. She asked me questions and I was a bit afraid to answer them honestly. She wants to see me in one month and if I’m still the same, I have to be tested for bipolar. I’m terrified, as it was bipolar that killed my dad. He could not cope and took a concoction of drink and drugs and died at 43. I’m more scared because I have thought for years I have bipolar. Now I have a young family and I’m scared I’ll lose them because of this.

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I am so sorry to hear about your father. It is an unfortunate fact that people who have bipolar disorder are more likely to die by suicide than people who do not have this disease. There has been some evidence that there is a genetic component to bipolar and other mental disorders. These are reasons why I would strongly suggest that you should not simply ignore your symptoms and hope they will go away.

It is extremely important for your health that you get an answer as to why you are having the symptoms you are having and how to correctly treat them from your doctor. Having bipolar disorder does not define who you are and being diagnosed and getting treatment is not a sign of weakness. A large part of the reason that people do not get treatment for mental illness is because they are afraid of how other people will react or that those other people (or your family) will see you differently. And sadly, there is still a stigma surrounding mental illness. But the more people that get help and talk about it, the more we can hopefully erase the stigma. Getting treatment for a mental illness is no different from getting treatment for any other type of illness. Treatment for bipolar disorder is treatment of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Just like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or cancer, bipolar disorder is a physical illness. And just like those other illnesses, bipolar disorder has no cure at the present time, but it can be managed very effectively with medication and therapy.

I’m not sure if you are afraid of losing your family because you are afraid that if you have bipolar disorder you will commit suicide or if you are afraid your family will walk away from you if you have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I think, in most cases, a person’s family is usually relieved once there is a diagnosis that explains behavior which is out of the ordinary and sometimes harmful to either the patient or the people who love him/her. It is also a relief to know that there are very effective treatments for bipolar disorder. If you are afraid to get a diagnosis because you think this means you will die like your father did, I would suggest that you are more likely to make a suicide attempt or die if you have bipolar that is undiagnosed and untreated than you will be if you address the issue head on.

It is natural when you are having any symptoms that do not feel right to you for you to be afraid. Please do not let fear keep you from getting help. Whether you have bipolar disorder or anxiety or something entirely different, your doctor can help you figure it out and help you get relief from your symptoms. Bipolar is not something that can be diagnosed with a blood test, but a good doctor should be able to make a diagnosis from your history and list of symptoms and guide you towards appropriate treatment.

3 thoughts on “I’m Scared to be Diagnosed with Bipolar Because it Killed My Dad

  1. Jan Pinkston Pinkston

    Chelle-this was very well written. You showed compassion and understanding. You stated precisely that not seeking help for diagnosis and treatment could have dire consequences. Good article!

    Jan

  2. My father had bipolar and he talked to me all the time about committing suicide. When I was diagnosed I was scarred I would be like my father. I didn’t want to scare my children the way he did. I didn’t want to be so emotionally unstable. I was depressed after getting the diagnosis but later relief came. Not only did I have the diagnosis of bipolar but also generalized anxiety disorder too so I understand how much you’re probably freaking out about this right now. I was eventually relieved because I could get treatment and I could make a different life for myself than what my father had. Thankfully my father, although attempting several times was never successful at killing himself he later died of a terminal illness instead so I don’t completly relate to your anxiety in that way but I’m sorry that you have to deal with those emotions on top of everything else. I agree with Chelle in the respect that knowing is part of the battle. I am a very functioning bipolar type 1 and anxiety disorder “person”. I know my limits and I try to respect them. Thankfully I have not thought of suicide much since leaving the hosptial last spring and not at all since this spring when my meds were adjusted. One thing to keep in mind and I’m sure you’ve thought about this, if your children ever are diagnosed since there is a genitic factor you will be a great resource for them and will understand them more than most people ever will. With the right treatment you will become a better parent than you ever thought was possible and you will live a long life. Just because your father’s life ended the way it did doesn’t mean yours will just like, just because my father lived his life they way he did doesn’t mean I will live my life that way. I wish now that I could tell my father his life didn’t have to be as difficult as it was for him because there is treatment and it can work! Have faith, things will work out. 🙂

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