Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dealing Daily with Bipolar Disorder

Yesterday I received a comment from KJ whose husband suffers from bipolar disorder. She felt that my answer to Gianna provided her with hope, something she is truly needing at the moment. Since I have been well for some time, it brought back difficult memories of how different my life (and that of my family's) was for so many years.

I vividly remember how terrible I felt when I was so depressed I could barely function. Each morning I would awaken and hope that the new day would bring some sort of relief. I would wonder what I possibly could have done to have been punished so severely that I was in such terrible psychic pain. I prayed that I could survive that day and the ones to come.

I remember how hard I tried to create "normalcy" so that my son wouldn't feel he was part of an "ill" family. I tried so hard to attend school events even when I didn't feel well, and to drive on field trips so that my son would know I cared and wanted to participate as fully in his life as was humanly possible.

I worked hard to try and maintain my self-esteem even when I had gained so much weight on medication that I was embarrassed, or suffered such terrible hand tremors that I couldn't write a check, or had such awful head sweats that my hair was drenched and I looked unkempt.

I tried hard to continue my freelance grant writing career even though I was suffering cognitive memory loss and it took me twice as long to write grants and they weren't up to par, or I was so hypomanic that my behavior offended my clients. I forced myself to continue writing books even when I was unable to publicize them because I was depressed for a full year after they had been published.

I remember how disappointed I was when my doctors prescribed medication after medication that made me worse, and never were honest about their lack of knowledge regarding bipolar depression. And the sicker I got, the more they tried to make me feel like it was my fault rather than their incompetence.

So, KJ, I just want you to know that you and Joe aren't alone. Now that I'm well, I have no idea why I had to suffer for so many years. But I can only think it was because I can now provide some solace to others. And I hope that my success in achieving wellness will allow others to realize that wellness truly is possible.


discoverandrecover said...

"And I hope that my success in achieving wellness will allow others to realize that wellness truly is possible."

It does.


P.J. said...

Susan - This post sure brought help to me. To hear the trials of someone else who has been through things similiar to what I am facing brings some "I'm-doing-okay" ness.

When you talked about the weight you gained and how embarrased you felt, that is exactly where I am now. I'm glad there's someone who knows what it's like for clothes to become too small due to a pill, but to still take that pill to retain some mental stability.

Susan, I think of you having dealt with this for SO long, and I think of me who's been in the loop less than a year. How long is it going to take for me to get to where you are? Years?? Will I go through periods of depression and slight mania regardless of what meds I'm on?

I just feeling at such a loss right now. Am I going to suffer my whole life, or is it possible to get stable and stay that way and avoid the highs and lows??

Mariposa said...

Yes, there is hope!

I am BP...and it's been over 10 years since I was diagnosed...I am still able to get a full time job and in fact a quite stressful and highly competitive one.

Of course it takes patience...understandding...and willlingness to get there...to KJ hold your ground gently and firmly...we're here for you both and we are rooting for you!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Duane,
Yes, I hope people will read about your story on your blog, and feel hopeful as well. Thanks for letting them know!


Wellness Writer said...

The point you bring up about how long it will take you to achieve wellness is an important one, which I will write about tomorrow.

P.S. I don't think it needs to take that long because I believe you can learn from other's successes and failures.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Mariposa,
Thanks for sharing for optimism. Like Duane, you are a terrific role model for others.


Kelly said...

Susan, you speak of experiencing depression at work. That's where I am now, and I'm completely unmotivated and feel helpless to do anything well. No one has said anything about my job performance yet. I don't know how to make it through the day with these feelings of helplessness. I try to tell myself I won't always feel depressed, but that takes me only so far. Do you have any suggestions from your own experience?

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Kelly,
By the time the depressive episodes began affecting my work performance, I was working on a freelance basis. Luckily, when I was a full-time employee, it wasn't a problem.

Tomorrow is a holiday for me, but I'' write about this topic on Friday in case any of my readers can provide some good advice for you.


Kelly said...

I appreciate it, Susan.