Dealing With Diagnosis - Part Two

By Indigo Blue

  1. Count yourself blessed.  For me, an African American woman, I was 50 percent less likely to be diagnosed properly.  If you are diagnosed your chances of finding a mood stabilizing medication is far greater than if you were diagnosed as being depressed only.  A proper diagnosis and treatment plan can SAVE YOUR LIFE.  You can also spare the people in your life the grief of your manic or depression driven actions.
  1. Educate yourself.  There are many non-technical books you can read that can help you understand your diagnosis  An excellent resouce is Kay Redfield Jamison’s book, “An Unquiet Mind”..  But, don’t let books alone educate you.  Let people educate you.  Try a support group.  Ask people you know that are bipolar about their experiences.  In addition, the world wide web offers a wealth of resources.  You can find communities, friendship and understanding, along with information.
  1. Deal with your emotions.  Finding out you have a major mood disorder, can in one way be a relief--it explains a lot of behaviors, but it is also a major mental illness.  A grieving period is not unusual.  Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ 5 Stages of Grief are helpful to consider.  The stages are:

Denial—“Bipolar?  Not me.  I’m too normal (your opinion only). Throwing back head in laughter ßThat was a good one. You oughta do Vegas

Anger— (Insert full blown tantrum here). It’s my mama’s fault.  She drank, you know.  And Daddy!  Did you ever meet a bigger maniac? Why would two people like them MATE!

Bargaining—“I’m going to exercise, and take herbs, and pray and mediate for three hours, and do yoga, and go to church twice a week, and do tai chi, and wear all organic cotton clothes that cost a fortune, and volunteer with kids, old folks, animals, prisons—oh, God, please, please, pretty please.  Make it go away….”

Depression—This is not bipolar depression, but depression BECAUSE you’re bipolar.  You with me? I sum up your response, “Waaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”  Kleenex and dedicated listeners who can tolerate whining and threats are required.  It’s okay.  We still love you.  But, let’s hurry on.  You need medication.

Acceptance—“Okay.  I got it.  I get it.  Now, where is that Bipolar World site?  (hint: , and another hint: you are here, or you wouldn’t be reading this).

  1. Finally, accept the fact that you will need a mood stabilizer, probably for the rest of your life.  There’s no shame in it.  None!  Why should you be ashamed of taking a medication that will make you better?  People with bipolar disorder have the highest suicide rate of any other mental illness.  A mood stabilizer probably would have avoided me the pain of three suicide attempts.  I could have easily lost my life in one of those attempts.  The medications are a blessing, even with the side effects.  You can rebuild your self–esteem if you are stable.  You can turn your life around.

Bipolar disorder is not a death penalty, not to those complying with treatment, who became their own hero and decided to get well rather than die.  You don’t have to be less because you are bipolar.  We are seeking to be all that we can be.  Bipolar Disorder is only one part of the whole of us.  But, it is a part that we would do well to bless, honor, and give the gift of our best effort to be well.  So do it.  Be well.





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