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Laura Yeager: Let Me Introduce Myself - I'm Bipolar

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Hello. I'm Laura Yeager. I'm the new bipolar illness HerWriter. I wasn't always bipolar. From February of 1963 to August of 1991, I didn't have a mental illness diagnosis. I was relatively normal, although my mother says that she used to have to take me shopping a lot because I always seemed to need "cheering up."

We'd venture downtown in the late sixties in our old car that was aqua in color and had big "wings" on the back, to the major Akron department stores - O'Neil's and Polsky's. There, we'd hunt out good buys such as boy's pants for 99 cents and woolen scarves for a quarter.

The only other "indicator" that something might be wrong was later, after I got my period. In the seventies and eighties, I had absolutely life-shattering PMS. My first serious relationship was ruined by this awful moody malady. Before my period, I would literally go out of my mind with irritability and depression.

But both the need of cheering up and the PMS would never be as catastrophic as the bipolar illness that would come later in 1991.

Thank God.

For those of you who don’t know what bipolar illness is, here’s a definition. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is a medical illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning... Over 10 million people in America have bipolar disorder and the illness affects men and women equally.”

Everyone’s manic and/or depressed phases are different. Check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness website (nami.org) for a complete list of possible symptoms of this disorder.

In my case, my manic phases involve extreme happiness, sleeplessness and sometimes delusional thinking and paranoia.

In my depressed phases, I’m often sad, but sometimes without any emotion. I feel hopeless and, perhaps, suicidal.

What’s weird about this illness is that one usually switches back and forth between the two extreme moods, hence the name “bipolar illness.”

I don't think I could have tolerated bipolar illness in my younger days. At 28, when I first came down with it, I could barely survive this bizarre illness.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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