World Bipolar Day + A Small Piece of My Story

Hello there! It’s WORLD BIPOLAR DAY (March 30th), and I’m writing a special post to commemorate it.

I’ve struggled with bipolar disorder for most of my life (despite being misdiagnosed with clinical depression around the age of 11), and it’s an important part of who I am. Now, being bipolar does *not* define me as a person. I am not a diagnosis. I do, however, live with my diagnosis and the issues that it brings daily. I’m somewhere in between being Bipolar I and Bipolar II, according to my psychiatrist. I’ve been psychotic. I’ve had periods of wild mania. I’ve been severely depressed for months at a time. I’ve had mixed episodes. I’ve been suicidal and have indulged in self-harm (especially during my teenage years).

Here’s a great overview of what it means to have the bipolar disorder diagnosis.

What exactly does being bipolar mean to me specifically? Well, it mainly means MOOD SWINGS – I’m talking daily ones which are rapid. I can go from happy-go-lucky and fine to severely depressed or manic in mere seconds, and it’s a booger of a disease to deal with, especially when nothing specific causes my depressions or mania, and they *simply happen.* It’s hard to explain how this makes a person like me feel … I often feel helpless and hopeless when those mood swings occur, and it’s frustrating because nothing in particular causes them except for my damn brain.

Everyone has mood swings from time to time, y’all. But bipolar mood swings are like a switch in your brain rapidly switches from HAPPY to DEPRESSED or from NORMAL to MANIC, usually all within the course of one day.

I began experiencing wild mood swings when I was about 10 years old. I was misdiagnosed by the well-meaning but highly ignorant family doctor and put on Celexa, which obviously didn’t help with the bipolar disorder. I went through middle school and high school on various cocktails of anti-depressants, no mood stabilizers in sight, and my moods raged terribly.

Finally, around age 20, I went to a different psychiatrist who properly diagnosed me as being bipolar, and we started experimenting with mood stabilizers. Let me tell ya, experimenting with meds and going through psychiatrists is hell on wheels. But sadly, it must be done to find the proper combination which works for the specific person. I’ve been on most psych meds that you can name, and I’ve been committed to the local “nuthouse” three times in my young life. It’s a constant struggle to remain stable ….

But my current and favorite doctor, Dr. Jenkins, who I began seeing in 2008, finally has me on a FANTASTIC combination of meds which keep me as stable as I could hope to be – Latuda (mood stabilizer and my SAVIOR med), Rexulti (anti-depressant), Trintellix (anti-depressant), Trazadone (sleep drug and anti-depressant), Gabapentin (anxiety drug), Xanax (anxiety drug), and Buspar (anxiety drug). Anxiety and bipolar disorder often go hand-in-hand, and I’m a prime example of that.

I’m a bit of an oddity by being bipolar and having struggled with an ED too – usually individuals with eating disorders are diagnosed as struggling with depression, not bipolar disorder (clearly there are exceptions, such as Marya Hornbacher; duh, I’m one of them too!). But bipolar disorder and ED’s play their sick game together well, sadly, and that’s something I’ve had to deal with in my young life too.

And that’s my spiel on being bipolar today. Again, it’s a DAILY struggle to stay stable, and it’s my full-time job in this life to try my best and remain as stable as I can. This is only a teeny part of my story and experiences … it’s hard to put it all into words, but I tried my best today. 🙂

~ Mandy

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