Patient Perspectives: Bipolar disorder
In this discussion, four bipolar patients talk about when they knew it was time to seek help.
You know, my mom started reading the pamphlets. And she's like, oh my god, I always called you my Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde child.
And I was like, mom, that's-- that's like an analogy for bipolar disorder, but it just shows you that she had no idea.
A game plan is so incredibly vital, because you can't fix what you're not trying to fix.
Even before your diagnosis, what things made you really think about something may be going on wrong here
and I may need to get help? My symptoms started when I was in sixth grade. And I remember waking up one morning and just not
being able to get up. I literally spent all day in bed completely in the darkness
and realized there's something wrong with me, but I don't know what it is. So I didn't think anything was wrong with me.
I just thought I was a jerk. I mean, honestly my-- my family tried to punish the symptoms of bipolar disorder out of me, right.
So I just thought that I was having trouble, I don't know, being good. It never occurred to me that anything
was wrong with me that wasn't my own doing, until I ended up in a-- you know, I was committed to a psychiatric hospital.
And then, you know, people started explaining to me, they're like, well, no, this is an illness. This-- this is part of a symptom. You have bipolar disorder.
You need help. For the most part, I mean, I've had waves of depression my entire life. It was, oh, so overwhelming that I
was just like there is something really wrong here, like I need to start figuring this out. So 2014 is when I started in therapy,
but I didn't get diagnosed until 2018. So I spent four years of doing this work of like, OK, maybe it's these other trauma issues.
When yeah, it was that, but it was also because I'm bipolar. I would say for me I definitely didn't realize something was really wrong with me.
I think, like Gabe, I thought for the first part of my life I thought it was just me. And those are just, you know, how I was,
but my eye-opening thing was going into my sophomore year of college. And I actually suffered a knee injury.
And that sent me-- that was the beginning of my psychotic break, I would say, but I was hospitalized as well.
So I definitely, you know, could see how that's-- that's a traumatic event within itself
having to go to the hospital. So I just assumed that everybody was thinking about suicide, contemplating ending their lives.
And this was just my experience. So like I said, I, I, I thought I was a jerk. So one day I ran across somebody.
And she recognized the symptoms of suicidality of bipolar disorder. And she was like, there's-- there's something really off
about this guy. She said, are you planning on killing yourself? I said, yes. She freaked out a little and panicked and said,
you need to go to the emergency room. I said the, emergency room? I'm not sick. The emergency room is like for a heart attack,
or when you fall off your roof, a car accident. Like, you're nuts lady. I actually thought she was the crazy one.
You know, people who are suicidal need to go to the emergency room. It blew my entire world view.
If I didn't run into her, I would not be sitting here. I was a freshman and I was trying
to just assimilate, make friends, and get good grades, but my manic episode crept up.
So I had to reach psychosis and completely just lose complete touch with reality and then
be hospitalized, right. There's just terms and things you don't understand, and it's rough.
It's rough. For me, I really don't experience much of the mania, but it's just constant sadness, like all the time.
And when I do experience any of those manic symptoms, it's usually part of a mixed episode, which, I don't know if you guys have experienced those,
but those are a trip. And I just was so frenetic, like with energy. Like I just could not do enough to like get the energy out
of my body, but I was also really, really sad at the same time. And so I wrote like six pages of just like fired off all
this stuff that I was feeling. And I brought it to my therapist. And she was like, OK, so we need to discuss what's happening here.
And that's when I finally got a diagnosis, which was so helpful, because now I had a vocabulary to explain
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