What is it like to get a bipolar diagnosis? What does that change? Does it make a huge difference or does it just have a minor impact on your life? How does the new diagnosis make you feel? And how is the diagnosis discovered? I am thinking of these questions and writing about my own experience.
My bipolar diagnosis is quite new. I´ve suffered from depression, anxiety and panic attacks since I was a child but I got this diagnosis in 2017. When I look back at my life I recognize my first mania at the age of 18. Somehow I made it this far without the right diagnosis and medication but the last two years have been crazy for me.
For me getting a bipolar disorder diagnosis was a relief. I think if I didn’t get the right diagnosis then, I would have gotten it soon anyway because my mind literally started to fall apart and I was losing control over my life. Mental health problems run in my family and I always thought I would heritate some of that. The causes of bipolar disorder are not certain but both environmental and genetic factors play a role. As a child I witnessed closly what a mental illness can do to a person but I failed to see any symptoms of mania in myself. It was summer of 2017 when a friend of mine told me that I was being manic. After being told I was manic, I started to do my research. I became pretty certain about having bipolar disorder but it took some months to finally get the diagnosis.
In autumn 2017 I was sent to a hospital due to severe and psychotic depression. I went to the hospital as a day patient for eight weeks. At the hospital a psychiatrist and nurses started to run diagnostics on me. Pages and pages of questions and several interviews on my past and present. Answering all those questions made me realize I really do have some serious issues to deal with in order to continue my life and make it worth living. The tests indicated strongly to bipolar disorder. I felt relieved things were finally going forward.
I finally got my diagnosis in October 2017. It felt like all pieces of my life started to fall in place. All my actions and behavior got an explanation and I was able to forgive myself my mistakes in past. A new medication, a new life I thought. I understood it wasn´t that simple though. Finding the balance could take a while. After all it took 15 years to get the diagnosis right so only God knew how long it would take finding the right medication and dosage. Anyways, I thought it was a turnover in my life. I was optimistic about my future and could never imagine how much struggle there was ahead despite of my new diagnosis.
Thw new diagnosis made me thinking about changes I had to make in order to lead a happy life from now on. I knew I had to change some things, I wouldn´t be cured with medicines. It was a fresh start for me. My life would never be the same. With the new diagnosis I learned that I had to live with that the rest or my life. There is no cure for bipolar disorder. The biggest change I made was to stop guarding myself and let people to see the real me. I wrote an email to my parents and told everything. Till that day I had faked a smile and pretended to be happy and strong. That email changed everyting. With the support of my family I learned to accept myself and my illness. I also had to face the fact I was too ill to work. I also learned the importance of healthy routines. Sleep is everything for bipolar and alcohol doesn´t go well with medication.
Since the diagnosis I have gone through some rough times, trial of different medications and dosages, ECT, hospitalization and therapy. I´ve had depression, I´ve been psychotic, I´ve been suicidal, I´ve had mania, hypomania and mixed episodes, I´ve abused medicines and I´ve self-harmed. That´s more than enough for one person to deal with. I’ve learned so much of my illness and myself and most importantly, become closer with my family and friends. For me bipolar disorder made so much sense. I think it was easier for me to accept the illness because I had some time to do research of my own before doctors put a label on it. At the moment I am enjoying balance but I am still in recovery. Balance is fragile. Things could get ugly again but so far so good.