A Normal Life with Bipolar Disorder

I know I’ve written other posts on this topic, but it seems to be one that people want to know about, so I figured I’d run through my recent thoughts on the subject.

I can only talk to you from my own point of view and my own experience, strength, and hope, and hopefully it will just point you in the right direction to make your own normal life with bipolar disorder.

It’s kind of like the Steps in AA/NA (or any 12-step program) – Step One is to admit that you are powerless over bipolar disorder and that your life has become unmanageable.

Most people are readily able to do that. Bipolar disorder can bring financial destruction down upon an individual and/or family faster than any other disease, in my opinion. Especially when you lose your job because of it, like I did.

Also, I found that I was unable to handle my own finances. I just sort of “ignored” those things I didn’t want to face — like over 120 days bills I owed. I couldn’t even balance my checkbook. Today I live a normal life with bipolar disorder – I had help going through my past finances to get them in order, and now I do them by myself. I am on disability, so every month, on the 3rd when I get my check, I pay ALL my bills. Even the ones that are due later in the month. Then I don’t have to worry about it.

I have also cut down my financial needs low enough to meet my income. I mean, who needs 150 channels on their TV anyway? I got the lowest car insurance I could get. I cancelled my life insurance that wouldn’t pay out for bipolar disorder (I found out after paying on it for several months). I went from owning a big house to renting a small duplex. I cut out red meat from my diet, which not only helped the food budget, but also my health.

In this economy (the recession), we all need to make better financial decisions. But it’s particularly difficult for people who have bipolar disorder with their ups and downs. You may even need to have help handling your finances for awhile until you can take them over or are more stable.

Being normal financially to me today means that I don’t have the fear of going into excessive shopping sprees. By handling our finances, I know exactly how much income we do have, and I have learned not to spend over that. When you get to the point where you can actually SAVE money (like for car repairs or other unexpected expenses) each month, then you are stable enough to live a normal financial life with bipolar disorder.

Steps 2 and 3 in a 12-step program talk about “only a Higher Power could restore us to sanity” and giving our lives over to that Higher Power. The reason that these steps are so hard for us to take is that we don’t want to admit that we’re insane to begin with! Others think they can do all this all by themselves. Of course, they can’t be looking at the big picture or they wouldn’t think this way.

Without the proper treatment (medication and therapy), NO ONE who has bipolar disorder has a right mind to manage their own life – they will always have bipolar episodes that ruin their finances, their relationships, their lives. It’s only thru treatment that we CAN have a normal life with bipolar disorder. I am proof that it can be done, as I have been stable for a long time and have learned to manage my disorder. I now have a “normal” life despite having the disorder.

If I can have a normal life with bipolar disorder, then so can you. Read some of my articles at www.bipolarcentral.com, and you can see how I did it. The main thing is that you HAVE to stay on your medications! And sometimes they may need to be adjusted – so don’t be afraid to call your doctor or psychiatrist if you don’t “feel right.”

Think about the things you think make up a normal life, and go after them in spite of your bipolar disorder, and you’ll find out like I did that it really IS possible!

I thought I could never work again because of my bipolar, but then I got a job working from home, which meets all my needs, working for a boss whose mother has bipolar, so he understands me. It’s also helped provide extra money each month. Try to find a home business you can start if nothing else – it will keep you productive, bring in extra money (which you will definitely need, as no one can live on disability alone), build up your self-esteem, give you financial freedom, and help you keep your bipolar disorder under control because you have goals to meet and decisions to make daily. It’s a whole lot different working from home, and makes you feel more normal.

Before I was diagnosed, I know I had an abnormal life with relationships, because I got married whenever I would go into a manic episode! Of course, those marriages were short-lived and ended when I came out of my episodes, but now I have a normal, healthy marriage. And my husband also has BP, so he understands me very well.

Stability is the goal. If you can achieve stability, then you CAN have a normal life with bipolar disorder. Set your goals – both long-term and short-term – and then achieve them. You can do it!

Wishing you peace and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

Michele

11 Responses to “A Normal Life with Bipolar Disorder”

  1. Michelle says:

    I’ve found that stability really is the best way for me to deal with things. My schedule may be busy, but it’s always the same every week. I know exactly what I will be doing any given evening when my husband is at work, I plan out the weekly menus so I don’t overspend at the store and then have nothing to fix and end up splurging on a night out. And we have bedtime planned out too. Whatever I can do to help keep my stress levels low and avoid triggering an episode. I used to go spend tons of money during episodes, it made me feel in control even though I very much wasn’t.

    And because of the stability I was able to achieve with a strict routine, I was able to meet my goal of a drug-free pregnancy! Our newest son Daniel was born on Tuesday, perfectly healthy and a perfect size, just under 7 lbs. Not trying to brag, but I’m very proud of myself for staying off my bipolar meds and dealing with the diabets the whole time too. A good support system has been essential through all this, and he is worth all the effort it took. My new goal: make it through nursing without needing meds.

  2. Michele says:

    Michelle — CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are such a shining example of someone who has their bipolar disorder under control. I know it was a struggle to make it through a drug-free pregnancy plus diabetes, but you did it! Enjoy that new bundle of blessings, now.

    Blessings,
    Michele

  3. Michele says:

    Michelle –

    I forgot to tell you how proud I am of you! I really am.

    Michele

  4. Melissa says:

    Congrats on your new bundle of joy Michelle. You did it girl and I too am very proud of you. You did a wonderful job with all you had to deal with throughout your pregnancy. I like the name Daniel too that is my grandfather and my husbands name also.

  5. CONRAD says:

    HI MICHELE,MY SON WAS DIAGNOSED WITH BP DESEASE BUT HE DOES NOT ACEPT HE HAS A MENTAL ILLNESS.IN YOUR OPINION AS PARENTS WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP ACEPT IT. WE ARE COMPLETLY LOST,FRUSTRATED(EVEN WITH THE DOCTORS HE HAS VISITED)BECAUSE HE DOES NOT WANT THE DOCTORS TO RELEASE ANY INFO TO US.WE WANT TO HELP HIM BUT DON’T KNOW HOW.PLEASE,IN YOUR OPINION WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP HIM?WE HAVE A FAMILY BUSINESS AND I TAKE HIM SOMETIMES WITH ME TO WORK BUT HE IS COMPLETELLY DISFUNCIONAL,NOT EVEN HE CAN DO A SIMPLE TASK.THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR ADVICE

  6. Michele says:

    Conrad, I’m sorry to hear about your son. Unfortunately, since I’m not a mental health provider or any other kind of expert, I couldn’t begin to tell you what to do. I hope you understand that, and that I’m not skirting the issue. I would very much like to help you, but I can only speak from my own experience. When someone with bipolar disorder is in denial, refuses to take their medication, and won’t go for help (which is what it sounds like your son needs), there isn’t anything you can do to force them, aside from involuntary hospitalization. The doctors can’t release any info to you because of the HIPAA Law (a patient privacy law) unless your son fills out a Medical Release, which it sounds like he wouldn’t be willing to do. When someone who has bipolar disorder is untreated (without the necessary medication), then it is far more likely that they will just go from episode to episode and, as you say about your son, become dysfunctional. The bottom line, I’m sorry to say, is that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. The best thing you can do for yourself is to protect your money, not enable him (do things for him that he can do for himself) or bail him out of his problems due to bipolar, and to set boundaries (with consequences for breaking them) of what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not acceptable. If you stick to the consequences, he will eventually learn to respect the boundaries. The main thing is that it sounds like he needs help, possibly more help than you can give him. Your only recourse may be involuntary commitment when he goes into a bipolar episode. I hope I have been of some help.

  7. Francis says:

    Dear.
    Next month i going to get married wit a BP girl.I know she has the diecese…she is under medication now…my only worrie is that very few people have sucessful married life wit a BP partner…i know she is nice…but some time her talks hurts me…that frighten me that i will loss her after few weeks of marriage life..can you advice wat i have to do….how i should approch her……i want a healthy and long life wit her…is it possible?

  8. Michele says:

    Dear Francis,
    I am not a marriage counselor or any other type of mental health professional, so I can’t tell you what to do. I can only offer my experience, strength and hope that something I say may help you. The first thing I would say is, “Never underestimate the power of love.” As far as successful bipolar marriages, I can’t speak about any but my own. I am married to a man who also has bipolar disorder, and we have the happiest marriage I know of. As far as you being the supporter in this case, I would recommend reading everything you can get your hands on on the subject of bipolar disorder. David Oliver even has a whole course you can take on being a supporter to a loved one with bipolar disorder. You can find that at: http://www.bipolarcentralcatalog.com. I don’t know how long the two of you have been together, but if it’s for any length of time, I’m sure you have experienced some of your fiancee’s problems with her disorder. BP doesn’t have a cure yet, so this is going to be a lifetime illness for her. However, with treatment (medication and therapy), she should be able to maintain stability for long periods of time. You said that sometimes her talks hurt you – that indicates a need for better communication. You need to be able to tell her how you feel. Good communication is a foundation for any marriage, much less a marriage to someone with bipolar disorder. So, yes, it is possible to have a long, healthy, happy life with someone with bipolar disorder – just look at me! Which isn’t to say that you’re not going to experience problems, because you will, just like in any marriage. If you have any hesitations or “red lights” after reading this, I would re-consider your decision, or at least put it off until you’re sure. The more you understand about bipolar disorder, the better off your marriage will be. Good luck, and God bless. I hope I helped a little bit.
    Blessings,
    Michele

  9. Christen says:

    Hi,
    I was diagnosed with BP 7 years ago and I guess I am still in denial. My family doesnt know but they have suspected it. I take my meds when I can but with insurance issues I dont always have them which makes it more difficult to deal with. I feel more stable with taking meds. Reading your blog is interesting and now I will continue to keep reading it because for right now thats about the only thing that helps. I wish I could tell you more but for right now I will say that I am trying to keep up with the meds. I still have some left, trying to make it last til July but probably wont happen. Some days I am just so irritable or depressed. Sometimes I dont want to get out of bed, but I have to if I want to keep living on my own, I hate living with other people besides my cousin. I only have my own income which is hard with excessive shopping too. This bipolar disease really sucks and I just wonder why I have it and I think that some members of my family have it too but no one has spoke up.

  10. betsy says:

    hello;

    my daughter just told me is was diagnosed with bp. I have been reading up on bp to see how i can best help. but some of the symptoms of bp she does not have how can i be positive she was not mis dignosed who should i talk to. I am just a parent seeking help.

  11. Sophia Sierra says:

    Hi Michele thank you so much for your story. It gives me hope. And makes me feel that I can have a normal life too. My therapist said that we don’t ask to be bipolar its like any other disease. And I have barely came to accept that I am bipolar and to live with it and just take my medications and keep going to therapy. Well thank you so much you give me hope. God bless you always.

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