I am a bipolar success story, and my name is Michele. I’m not a famous person; not a celebrity whose face you would find on the cover of a magazine, nor whom you’d read an interview with in the newspaper. I’m not rich; I don’t have unlimited financial resources. In fact, I’m on Social Security Disability. I’m not anybody special; I’m not any better than anyone else. I struggle with the same things as you do every day. But I am a bipolar success story.

So how am I a bipolar success story? I’ll tell you. Let’s start from the beginning. They say that Bipolar Disorder can be inherited. In my case, I believe that. My mother has bipolar, and when I was twelve years old, they put her in an institution to have shock treatments. That was my first memory of my mother having an actual bipolar episode. But she isn’t the only one in my family to have Bipolar Disorder. Supposedly her mother had it as well, but they didn’t really diagnose it back then—we only assume she had bipolar because of her symptoms.

Bipolar Disorder runs in my family—my teenage son has bipolar, as do I, and my sister had Bipolar Disorder as well. Unfortunately, in early 2005, my sister went off her bipolar medication and on April 15, 2005, she killed herself. One of the ways in which I’m a bipolar success story is that, in spite of the fact that my sister (younger than me but still I called her the 'twin of my heart, that’s how close we were), killed herself, and I was able to get through a tragedy like that without being triggered into a bipolar episode.

Bipolar success involves, more than anything else, the stabilization of the disorder by use of medication (sometimes several medications) and therapy.

Being a bipolar success involved, for me, accepting the fact that I have a disorder that is incurable, but that is manageable through medication, therapy, and other self-care management techniques that I learned. I had a girlfriend, also bipolar, who told me, 'We are high-functioning people, but we are not perfectly-functioning people.' That became my goal—I did not let the fact that I had Bipolar Disorder stop me from being as highly-functioning as I could be in spite of the fact that I had a disability; yet, I also accepted the fact that I was human, and not perfect.

The key to being a bipolar success story is stabilization. Stabilization of Bipolar Disorder involves several things:

1. Medication for control of the symptoms of the disorder.

2. Regular sessions of therapy (one-on-one and/or family therapy).

3. Monitoring by a psychiatrist.

4. Regular visits to a doctor for blood tests.

5. Self-care management techniques—such as healthy diet, exercise, keeping a journal, tricks to remembering when to take medication, relaxation exercises, etc.

6. Bipolar Disorder Support Groups, on-line chat groups, forums, etc.

7. Education/Knowledge – books from the library, bookstore, information from the Internet, etc.

I am a bipolar success story because I do all of the above. The best thing is, you can be a bipolar success story too! You, too, can be a 'high-functioning person.' You, too, don’t have to let Bipolar Disorder stop you from being the best you can be in spite of the fact that you have a disability!