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What Did You Know About Bipolar Disorder and Mania Before You Were Diagnosed by a Psychiatrist?

June 7, 2009

I have a few relatives with bipolar disorder 1, one who takes lithium and does well, from what I know, and one who refuses to take medication and therefor is in and out of wild manias that end in hospitalization or severely depressed. I didn’t know much about their illness prior to my diagnosis, or really understood what it meant, I don’t believe I ever thought about it. And when I went through my first episode at 13, Dr.’s were reluctant to diagnose some one so young. Myself or my family had no answers to my behavior, and I was left feeling like I was horrible person for the destructive things I did. Sometimes I feel not angry, but I regret that those prime teenage years were stolen from me and for the horrible things that happened, still today I wear the scars from those years.

When I was 18 bipolar started to resurface again, but I didn’t know what was going on with me, it was different then when I was 13-16. I went to one psychologist and he said I had an eating disorder and to join his eating disorder group each Wednesday.

At the library one day studying, I noticed a book on bipolar on a featured books shelf. I picked it up and glanced through a page or two, but immediately slammed the book shut, and put it back on the shelf, looking around to make sure no one noticed. When things got worse, I had feeling inside about that book I saw at the library, so I went there. It was rented out. I suffered with the illness for a long time until I saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed me bipolar and put me on lithium. But it was still along time after that initial diagnosis until I understood that I had bipolar, and needed to take medications like Lithium as my mood stabilizer, Invega (psychotropic), and Klonopin for anxiety and sleep. The formula seems to be working, and I thank my prior psychiatrist for all of his work, although we went through years of me being manic and cycling between hypo manic, manic, depressed, paranoid, and at my worst, unsure of what reality was and wasn’t. I was hospitalized a few times, but still, I refused the psychotropic medication, or anti psychotic, I cringed at the name. I hope to be off it someday, when my brain heals from the severe manic episode I had, but for now, it seems to be helping me and my understanding of what is going on.

What did you know about bipolar before you were diagnosed or found out you had it?

How long, if ever, did it take you to accept that you have bipolar, and that it needs to be treated with medications forever?

What has been your experience with psychotropic medications?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2009 8:56 p06

    The URLabove links to a video featuring the author Kay Jamison discussing her struggles to come to terms with bipolar illness, and with medication.

    Jamison is co-author of the standard textbook on manic-depressive illness, as well as an autobiorgaphy “An Unquiet Mind” plus books on artistic temperament, suicide, creativity, and other topics.


    • June 8, 2009 8:56 p06


      Thank you for your posting. The first time I was diagnosed bipolar in 2003 and put on lithium, I read Dr. Jamison’s famous book, ‘The Unquiet Mind,’ and have read it many times since. It’s a great book as is the link you provided, but interestingly I found her manic descriptions to be often romanticized. I don’t say that to knock her work down in any way, she’s brilliant, but I found it interesting in your link/video she condemns romanticizing the illness in writing, but how can one judge and say this writing is romanticized or not, or how can one judge someone’s writing just because they’re bipolar like they can’t talk about anything but depression. I don’t know if I’m making sense here, but I was curious about that statement of hers, it didn’t make sense with her writing style in the book stated above.

      However, overall the video is great, and she hits on so many futile points like the importance of medication, to learning about one’s illness, and regulating sleep, among other like having friends and making the ‘choice.’ It is indeed a complicated illness as she says, and I’m in no way shape or form acting as someone who has it all together perfectly or knows everything. Thanks again for the video, I learned, oh and the suicide rate of people under 30 who quit their meds is scary, if for any purpose served, that point serves a powerful one.

      I’ve been meaning to get to my local Nami chapter’s monthly meeting. Have you been to one? I don’t have a lot of friends, but I’m starting school to become an RN, in fact my chemistry class starts next week, so I hope to meet a friend or two. I do have a lot of friends, I’m sorry, I stated that wrong, but they all live across the country. I only bring this up because as Dr. Jamison mentions, isolation isn’t good for a bipolar person, or any person. To me, that alone can be deadly as it seems it can induce paranoia. But that’s getting off subject. Thanks again. Please stay active with myself and my blog, I appreciate all of the valuable input you have provided. I really want this blog to be enriching, so thanks!



  2. June 8, 2009 8:56 p06

    I have been involved with NAMI for a decade, since bipolar illness knocked the socks off my legal career. NAMI helped my wife learn about the illness, and helped us cope with all the consequences. I have been involved in NAMI leadership for some time.

    I have come to terms with my illness. I had to reassess my capacities, and find work that applies my talents but respects my limits. I still have some wobbly days but after all this time I have learned to be effective.

    Good luck with the blog, your education and your work. I will keep reading.


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