I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder late in life. While most are diagnosed in their teens and 20’s, I was frolicking about, living life in the fast lane.
No one noticed my patterns, no one saw the bout of being out of control in my teens, I was living life vicariously. In therapy I found out I had bipolar disorder from the age of 15. That realization hit me a bit hard.
I felt angry, alone, and unnoticed. Though, being raised by a single mother who had borderline personality disorder, it’s no wonder I went diagnosed for so many years. My mother was quite busy trying to manage her own existence. Much less paying attention to my irregularities and patterns of bipolar disorder.
My first remembrance of depression was at the age of 15. I fell deep and hard! I even tried committing suicide twice. If that wasn’t a cry of attention, I don’t know what is! Mania struck me around the age of 16. I was emitting all the signs of mania with no notice.
I would later become pregnant with my 1st child at the age of 16. I dropped out of school, my child was born when I turned 17, married by 18, had my 2nd child by age 19, and divorced by age 20. And yet, no one put the pieces together!
I lived my life with little to no stability. I moved a lot, had unhealthy relationships, and found myself unstable for years. However, not even I thought I was different in any way. I was just trying to survive.
Thankfully, my mother was their to help me. We lived together until I was 21. I eventually moved out on my own. This was a big step for me. I would try to support my kids and I on only my salary. I had no help from my ex-husband.
I cycled from mania to depression, to stability like a three-ring circus. I found I was capable of living alone with my kids, and still be able to hold down a job. Mind you I still to this day am unclear how I did it but grateful to have managed.
Life has always been an absolute struggle for me. Nothing has ever just been handed to me. As for work over the years, well let’s say as time went on I became more mentally unstable. I began having difficulty performing tasks, and making it work on-time was a chore.
I began having panic attacks at work. Paranoia was almost a daily episode. Not to mention I would often hide in the bathroom crying because my mind was so scattered. I began to lose my ability to work. People scared me, simple job evaluations lead me into severe panic attacks. I often would leave work sick for the day.
It wasn’t until I met my (now) husband that all my years of instability would come to a grinding halt. In fall of 2011 I had my worst manic episode ever. My life and my marriage was falling apart. I frankly should have been hospitalized for all the craziness, and out of control behavior. I was spending money, had major grandiose thinking (thought I had super powers), I would take-off for days, lie about my where a bouts, getting tattoos (I regret a couple of them), separated from my husband, started dating, etc.
Nothing I was doing was kosher. I was for all intents and purposes living a another life. It wasn’t until I came out my mania that my husband had put the pieces together, and wanted me to seek the advice of a psychiatrist.
Once I did I found out I had type 1 bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed December of 2011. I started on lithium and began seeing a counselor twice a month. During my confessions I found that I had severe memory loss. I didn’t remember doing some of the things my husband claimed I did. I still to this day suffer memory loss of that time period.
It frankly scares me to not know what I did, but grateful that I was diagnosed. It helped to answer questions I’ve had over the years as to my erratic behavior. Once I told my mother, she began to apologize for not paying enough attention to me as a teen. I wasn’t looking for an apology, just wanted to fill her in as to answer some of my behavior in the past.
The unfortunate part of my diagnosis is I made the mistake of trying to clean-up my mess, by apologizing to friends and family and telling them I had bipolar disorder. Hoping they could understand why i was so far out there.
It lead to me losing friends and family. I haven’t spoken with my dad, sisters or step-mom in a year. As they are judging me for my disorder. Having bipolar disorder seems to come at a price. Though, in my mind it is their loss. They are missing out not just on my life but the lives of their grandchildren, niece, and nephews.
I can’t change my past, but I have come to terms with it. I have learned to accept my diagnosis. I have worked really hard to find stability, take my medication as prescribed, and see a therapist every week.
I still have breakthroughs of mania and depression, but not as severe as when I wasn’t taking medication. I’m more in control of my moods. I have found outlets that help me cope during those breakthroughs. I lean on my psychiatrist and therapist when needed, as to not try to manage my symptoms alone.
My husband is my caretaker, and I’m grateful for his support. I also have a case manager through my psychiatrist office. She allows me the ability to talk to her in-place of crisis support.
I frankly am afraid to call crisis support because I worry they’ll put me in the hospital. But, they are there if I need them.
It has been quite a ride over these years. But I’m happy with where I’m at in life. I have taken the bull by the horns and in fact am pretty stable. I have a great and supportive psychiatrist, an attentive therapist, a case manager who supports me in staying stable, a wonderful caretaker, and I have the drive to be and stay stable!
Nothing comes easy for me still, but at least I have a great support team rooting for me.