I am 42 years-old and have been bipolar since I was 18. That was when I had my first manic experience.
I was put in the state hospital and given the usual medications. I got out, but never took the
medications because I was recovered and didn't consider myself sick
. When I had this breakdown I
was a freshman in a very good college and because of my illness I had to leave school. The next sixteen
years were a roller coaster ride of getting sick and getting well. I could go for years at a time
without having a manic episode, usually 3 or 5, but later every Bipolar disorder is not a death
two years I would have an episode. Still, I never took medica- sentence or the end of one's life. You
tions because I never realized I was sick. I only took meds in can get well and accomplish things.
hospitals when I was forced to. I was arrested many times for my outrageous behavior and actions.
My manias were the greatest. I never felt better or more confidant or closer to God. I didn't have
anxiety or a care in the world. I thought I was rich or would soon become a millionaire. I was very
creative; I could write the greatest poetry in a manic state. I think that is why some people don't want
to take their medication--they miss the great way they feel. I know not everyone's manic episode is so
great. Some people get fearful and paranoid and think the devil is out to get them. Anyway, I went a
long time without taking medication. Finally, after my mania struck nine years ago and I got out of the
hospital I started to take my meds. I could not tolerate lithium so I took depakote for a while. I didn't
like the way that made me feel so I tried tegretol. My depressions were never really that bad so I
didn't really take anti-depressants. Plus I always wanted to be on the least amount of medication as
possible. I always thought and still do that medication was a way for people to be controlled. However, I
have flourished on my medication even though I dislike taking it
. I have flourished because once I
realized I had an illness (I did a lot of reading and studying of bipolar disorder) I was able to go back
to school at 35 years old and finally complete my college degree.
I finished school at the age of 40 and became a high school English teacher. I have accomplished this with God's help and being on medication. I know I can go off my meds and not get sick for a while but it is a crap shoot. I never know when the illness can strike. For example, two years ago my doctor lowered my dose (tegretol) and I eventually went into a manic episode. Thank God this was in the summer when I wasn't working. I had gone seven years without a manic episode. My two months of mania were great. I did some good poetry writing, but I had to pay the price of being arrested and hospitalized. There is a connection between mania and creativity. But is being sick worth the price of being creative? This is an individual decision. Everyone has to make their own choices.
I eventually did go back to work and am working full-time now teaching (a very stressful job). The point
of my story that I would like to convey is that bipolar disorder is not a death sentence or the end of
one's life. You can get well and accomplish things with God's help and your determination. Take it from
someone who has been there and suffered through ten manic episodes over the course of twenty-four
years. You can lead a good life and be bipolar. Find solace in other manic depressives because they
truly understand what we go through. Things eventually will get better even though everyday can be
a struggle.

Good luck in your walk with bipolar disorder.
God bless all my fellow manic depressives.
Source: National Mental Health Association


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