This is probably the hardest post I have ever written. When I noticed that November 6th coincided with having a post due and a very important anniversary, I knew I had to write this post. This is essentially my story.
Thirty-four years ago, today, November 6, 1985, I lost my first wife to a drunk driver. Today I remember Ellen, but I also remember the twenty-five-year tailspin this loss sent me into. Some ten years prior, March 1975 I had my first hospitalization for mental illness and where I had been misdiagnosed with ADHD and OCD. A diagnosis that I was stuck with for the next thirty-five years, September 2009, until I finally got to see a psychiatrist who not only questioned the diagnosis but did the work to properly diagnose me with bipolar 1 disorder.
Today I tell people that I am thirty-four years sober, I sobered up, August 2, 1985, only a few months before Ellen died, and nine years sane. The reason I say this is because I may have been sober twenty-five years when I finally got my proper diagnosis, but I was far from sane. I could not have been sane not knowing what was wrong with me. To say I struggled all those years before my proper diagnosis is a huge understatement. For that all that time I was helpless and hopeless, going from one emotional crisis and loss to the next. I just could not find any hope.
What I want to share are the struggles since getting a proper diagnosis. Struggles that were based on finally knowing what was wrong with me and the hope that by knowing what was wrong things could get better and are getting better gave me. That is why I write this blog to share that hope
These are my struggles since my proper diagnosis and in the end I will share what I have learned. I struggled for two years to find the meds that worked. I struggled through a further two years of therapy as I learned about me. I struggled to overcome the things that stuck to my bipolar disorder. The comorbidity of our illness. Things like complicated grief disorder, which masked the seasonal aspect of my bipolar and the aspect of this illness I am currently learning to overcome. I struggled with addictions to sex, video games and anything else that relieved the pain without booze and drugs. I learned that I suffered from Self Love Deficit Disorder, the new name for codependency and how to overcome that. I struggled to overcome the negativity bipolar disorder creates in our thoughts and words and I struggled to overcome the constant suicidal thoughts I had.
In struggling through and overcoming all these things, this is what I have learned:
- A proper diagnosis gives you something to “WORK” with and gives us hope.
- Proper medication gives you a stable mind with which to do the “WORK.” Proper medication does not fix you.
- The “Work” is solely on yourself, to create change in you and you are the only one who can do it. Randy, my therapist said it best, “You are the one with bipolar not me. I can suggest things, but it is you that must do them.”
- The only thing you must change is you, your false beliefs, your thinking, and your attitude.
- There is only ONE GAOL – to develop the self-discipline to take control of our minds and emotions. A statement I have chosen to end each post with,
- By taking control of our minds and emotions we can learn to connect with our authentic self. An authentic self we can truly fall in love with.
Today I still struggle but it is never in the constant emotional turmoil that untreated bipolar creates. I have found the more I learn about myself and the more I come to love and accept myself the less I do struggle. That is the hope, someday the struggle may end, and living can begin. Today I have way more life and a lot less struggle.
As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things. Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our minds and our emotions.
The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”
I say,” Work hard on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.
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BLOG OF THE WEEK:
Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well. This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you. I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Janice Webb Ph.D.