What is the first thing you think of when you hear the term “bipolar”? Dysfunctional, crazy, unstable, lunatic? How about “broken”?
That's what I thought the first time I was diagnosed with this illness back in 1998. All I could think about when I heard the words come out of my doctor's mouth was “I'm broken.”
I had always known that there was something wrong, but I just thought it was my fault, and that if I tried harder I could fix myself. But now the doctor was telling me that there was something wrong with my brain chemistry and that all I needed to do was find the right combination of medications and I would be fine.
I remember the strange feelings I had as I walked out of the doctor's office. On one hand I felt like the world had been lifted off my shoulders because here was someone telling me that it wasn't my fault–the inconsistency, the instability, the incredible, uncontrollable mood swings.
In 1999 dressed up as Ginger for Halloween
On the other hand, though, I felt this gloom and uncertainty settling in over me. Did this mean I was ALWAYS going to be like this? Would it never matter how hard I tried, would I always struggle? Who would want me now?
The years that followed were different from the previous years in one major way–I had been on a roller coaster before, but now I was aware of it. There was no exact science to treating mental illness. It's a “science” of guess and check.
I remember having a conversation with my uncle, who was a biomedical engineer, and asking him why they couldn't just measure my brain chemistry and say, oh, here, you need more of this and this, and you'll be fine.
His response was that even if there was a safe way to measure my brain chemistry, there was no standard for what the correct levels are for your brain nor was there any way yet of knowing how to alter the chemicals that were out of balance.
So I was doomed to suffer through endless trials of different medications and the accompanying side-effects and withdrawals. Over a decade I continued to grow steadily worse, trying every treatment my doctors prescribed, and suffering more and more every day.
In 1999 dressed up as Ginger for Halloween
Finally, in 2008 I suffered a major breakdown. I was hospitalized in three different hospitals in two different states. I was subjected to electroconvulsive therapy and made two attempts on my life. I didn’t want to live like this anymore!
My marriage was suffering, my children were suffering and I was suffering. It seemed increasingly apparent that there did not seem to be any hope of relief. The best I could hope for in my life was learning how to suffer well with my disorder.
Then in 2010 I received my first glimmer of hope. I was introduced to EMPowerPlus–a micronutrient treatment from nonprofit True Hope. I was skeptical at first, because I had tried “natural” treatments in the past with terrible results. I was desperate, though, so I took the information to my psychiatrist.
This doctor had been treating me for 8 years at that point and could see how much I was suffering despite diligently trying every medication he prescribed. He evaluated the numerous studies and clinical trials that had been done on this treatment and determined it was a viable treatment option.
He assisted me through the process of titrating off of my medications and onto the EMPowerPlus. Three months into this process, I woke up one morning feeling like I was truly awake for the first time in over a decade.
Although I experienced significant improvement, I still had a lot to learn. Over the following 12 years I identified and implemented the tools necessary to heal my mind. I began to realize that it wasn’t necessary to “suffer well” with bipolar, I could live well with it!
As I mapped out my plan I wondered with growing frustration, “why was I left to figure this out on my own?” Nothing that I was doing was really unique or special, so why wasn’t I given a treatment plan in the beginning that outlined the path to wellness?
That was when I decided to start my blog–to show others the path to wellness with bipolar. It is possible to live a healthy, balanced productive life with bipolar disorder. The path is not easy–it requires a lifestyle change for your mind and you have to choose it EVERY. DAY. But if you are willing to make the journey, the destination is absolutely WORTH IT!
Are you ready to live well with your bipolar?
You can live healthy and well WITH bipolar disorder. Get started with the Map to Wellness
As I healed and learned how to live well with my bipolar, I wondered with growing frustration, “why was I left to figure this out on my own?” Nothing that I was doing was really unique or special, so why wasn’t I given a treatment plan in the beginning that outlined the path to wellness?
The best that the medical community could offer me were limited solutions to suppress symptoms, but with serious long-term, unintended consequences and no hope of ever feeling healthy and balanced again.
That is when I decided to start my blog. I felt like an explorer who had figured out the best way over the mountains to a destination, now I can create a map for others to follow. I created a map to wellness with bipolar.
The map clearly outlines the path–your treatment plan–that will lead you to living well with your bipolar, but you have to decide for yourself to take the journey. If you commit to the path, choose to take the steps, and recommit yourself each day to continue the journey, you can learn how to live a healthy, balanced, productive life with bipolar.
If you’re tired of being controlled by your disorder and are ready to live well, then let’s get started!