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Living with Bipolar Disorder

written by: Ivy N. McQuain MBA • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 4/16/2011

Bipolar disorder is hard to deal with especially when you have to contend with unusual emotions. You go from angry to happy in what seems like a moment's notice. Bipolar disorder is not a normal mood swing. It's something more that can devastate your life.

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    Imagine waking up feeling like the world is the best place to live. You maneuver through the day feeling like you are on top of the world. You make it home and breathe a sigh of relief feeling like you had one of the best days ever. Now imagine waking up the next day lying in bed staring at the walls crying, confused, frustrated and feeling like your world was going to end. You didn’t receive a phone call, have a bad dream or anything that would trigger such emotions but there you lie… feeling hopeless and lost. People with bipolar disorder experience these very emotions.

    At least I did. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2004. I just thought I was sad because my then husband and I were not getting along and my kids were not acting normal from all of the arguing and fussing we were doing. My marriage being in shambles and my small children responding to it was enough to set anyone off, or so I thought until I started to have suicidal thoughts again… this time I was going to take my children with me. I knew something was wrong.

    When I went to the clinic to just talk to someone, I was at my lowest point. I stared at the concrete divide that separated the southbound and northbound traffic on the interstate and literally willed myself not to take my car (I was going over 80 mph) into the wall. I wanted to die on my way to get help and all I thought about was, my marriage is gone. I eventually made it to the clinic and went into the office and received a stack of forms. I completed them without hesitation because everything on the list pertained to me.

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    Diagnosis

    Finally, the doctor called me back, looked at my chart and then to me and we began to talk about my ‘sadness’. She was almost moved to tears as I sat lifeless (not literally but without joy) and talked about wanting to die on the way over and having increased sadness and hopelessness. She then told me words I thought I would never hear, “You suffer from bipolar disorder.”

    I knew something was wrong with me but not that. I mean that illness is for other races, not me. I had a degree. I was married. I had children. I had loving parents (though my father passed in 1999). I was not the face of bipolar disorder but I was. I began to look back over my marriage and life and realized that more than once I thought about killing myself and my children. I would lie in the bed for days crying uncontrollably or stay awoke even longer when I was in a manic state. I shopped uncontrollably never paying any bills and getting behind. And all that time I never knew I was suffering from bipolar disorder.

    Those words from my doctor helped me realize that I needed help.

    I began medical treatments but they made me drowsy. So I stopped the medications because I was unable to take care of my children effectively. Then I remembered what I had always been taught and I started to pray. I would pray for strength, guidance and understanding and then I put a plan in place for positive reinforcements. These positive reinforcements helped me to identify when I was beginning to feel down or out of control and I would find someone to talk to and they let me know when I was acting abnormal. I still battle moments of sadness but I quickly pull out my stay on track plan and charted my progress.

    And since my 2004 diagnosis I have been able to live with bipolar disorder. I know there are many people with bipolar disorder but it is treatable and manageable. For me prayer and a clear plan of action has helped me manage my thoughts and the feelings of sadness. I pray whatever your treatment is, you understand you can live your life.