In retrospect, I've had bipolar disorder most of my life. I can remember as a small child feeling uncontrollably high one day and incredibly sad another. I can also see it in my father and my grandmother. In spite of this, or perhaps because of the mania, I excelled in school. My moods were chalked up to everything from hormones to "it's just a phase."
I graduated from high school with high honors, was accepted to the university with Honors at Entrance, but by my sophomore year I was on academic probation. I had discovered the enticing world of self-medicating with drugs and drinking. I spent most of my time either high as a kite or crying myself to sleep. After my first suicide attempt my roommate kicked me out and I moved back home. That didn't last long however, my father wasn't very understanding of my behavior (I can't blame him) and asked me to move out again.
I started to see a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with severe depression and extreme anxiety. I was put on medication but still preferred my own way of self-medicating. My behavior continued to be erratic although I was able to hold down a good job. I was eventually married but he turned out to be heinously abusive. I couldn't leave because of death threats, so I spent a lot of time in psychiatric wards for suicidal ideations. It was the only way I could think of to get out of the marriage.
During that 15 years, we had two daughters and I was still holding down an excellent job. It turned out that my younger daughter was very difficult, she has since been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, and the stress of her plus the abuse turned out to be too much for me. I eventually quit my job and was put on disability.
I finally found the courage I needed to leave, and with the support of some good friends I escaped to safety with my daughters. We moved to a different state, and with that move came a new psychiatrist who finally diagnosed me with bipolar disorder 1. Life finally began to make sense, although it was still a struggle to find the right medication combination.
After about another 10 years of a variety of useless medication combinations and a couple more hospitalizations, my depression became so severe that my psychiatrist recommended ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). You can read about that experience on my blog: http://realityhideseek.blogspot.com/2011/04/i-want-my-brain-back.html.
My mania has been in remission for a long time, and I've finally found an antidepressant that seems to be a miracle, an MAOI - Nardil. I've been in a loving, healthy relationship for about three years now, but I'm still unable to work. Add PTSD from the abuse to my bipolar disorder, and holding down a job is nearly impossible. Other than being unable to work, I do consider myself relatively high-functioning in the rest of my life. I no longer have debilitating ups and downs, and am very happy right now.
I recognize that this may be temporary but I try not to look at it that way. Many people with bipolar disorder go on to lead very satisfying lives, and right now that's the way I'm looking at things. I speak out about mental illness and bipolar disorder whenever I can, and am very open about my own story. I'm more than happy to answer any questions.
All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.