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Some people have accused me of not taking bipolar disorder seriously enough. They don’t realize how seriously I really do take it – it tried to take my life from me 5 times! Of course, I realize the seriousness of it. That’s the biggest reason I have this blog in the first place — to warn others of the seriousness of bipolar disorder, like when I talk about how 20% of people with it will kill themselves. I know, because my sister was one of those statistics.
However, I also want to offer encouragement, as well. The fact is that bipolar disorder does NOT have to kill us! The disorder CAN be managed, and we can live a relatively normal life in spite of it.
I’ve had several people post about medications not working for them and, unfortunately, that can steal your joy in your life – until you get on the right medication and attain stability. But for now, keep believing that you WILL eventually attain stability with your medications. It may not be pleasant right now, and it may be a struggle, but you can master it in the future. Just don’t give up hope for stability!
Many times, my posts are directed to others like me, who are stable and enjoy a normal life.
And so I ask the question, “Can you have bipolar disorder and still be happy?”
I know those people struggling with getting their medication right would definitely answer no, but I would offer this encouragement: It won’t always be that way. Many, many people with BP suffer at first with their medications, or even have to go on the “medication merry-go-round” for awhile, like I did. But once they found the right combination of medications for them, they were able to attain stability.
And my life is a happy one now. Now, I never said it was easy, it’s not. I have to do the work to maintain my stability and my happiness. You can’t control this disorder without putting some effort into it.
But I know me better than anyone else (except my husband) – I keep a daily journal where I record my thoughts and feelings, so that I can look back and notice patterns of bipolar behavior before an actual episode hits. I also keep a daily mood chart that can help me notice mood changes as well. Because of this, I am stable and happy, but I still don’t trust the BP, so I do the things I need to do in order to continue mastering it instead of the other way around. Bipolar disorder is a sneaky disorder, and can come upon you if you’re not ready for it and the devastation that an episode can bring.
I have coping techniques that I use to keep me stable. Like, I do crossword puzzles to help with the inevitable racing thoughts (whether in an episode or not). I adhere to a regular sleep schedule. I eat right. I go to a bipolar support group. My supporter (my husband) helps me as well. He won’t let me have more than one “bad bipolar day” without making me get out and do something I enjoy to battle the depression that sometimes hits.
I’ve never said that things would be perfect when you’re not in an episode. Far from it. Even people without the disorder have problems – we all do. In fact, in my journal yesterday I wrote, “Life would be boring without problems, wouldn’t it?” Now that does NOT mean that I like them – I hate having problems. But I do like how it feels when I’ve come up against one and come through on the other side.
And that’s what I say about depression, too. That you can make it through it to the other side. No matter how bad the episode, you will eventually come out of it and can be happy again. If you’ve made your life a happy one, and don’t dwell on the “could be’s.” It does not help to sit around just waiting for the next episode or watching for one around every corner. Go under the assumption that you are not going to have an episode (but still have a plan of what to do if you happen to go into one).
I now fill my life with positive things, where before I was depressed all the time. I do things I enjoy. I have my dog for unconditional love. My sons are grown, healthy, and doing well, and for that I am grateful. I live in a humble home, but it is my home. There was a time when I had none. I have a used car that runs pretty good right now (thank You, Lord). I have a close relationship with my mom, who also has bipolar disorder. I am also very spiritual. I have a great job working for www.bipolarcentral.com, where I get to work from home in a stress-free environment. And I have a few close friends.
So, yes, I have a happy life in spite of my bipolar disorder. It can be done.
The main thing is to learn how to master the disorder so that it stops mastering you.
Someone might say it’s easier for me to be happy, because look at my life. But look at the elements of my life before you judge. Look at all the effort I put into keeping it a stable, happy one. Because you can have one, too. It just isn’t going to be easy, but if you know that in advance, you can accept small setbacks when they happen.
This doesn’t mean I don’t ever lose sleep, or get depressed, or sometimes get a little manicky. I do. But I call those “bad bipolar days,” and I get through them the best I can. One thing I do NOT do is to assume just because I’ve had one bad day, that I’m in an episode.
One thing I learned from my suicide attempts – something will change the next day for you, something will be different, and probably better. Something. It might be just a small thing, but had I been successful in my attempts, I never would know the joy I have today.
I also keep looking forward, and with a positive attitude, in spite of my problems and in spite of my bipolar disorder. I always have something planned to look forward to. Now, I’m realistic as well, don’t get me wrong. The day I’ve been looking forward to may come and I may be depressed that day and not want to do anything. Then I deal with that, or have a Plan B in case it happens. But, again, I don’t automatically assume I’m in an episode.
Happiness, in my opinion, is a state of mind. And we have just as much right to it as someone who doesn’t struggle with bipolar disorder.
Surround yourself with things that make you happy (I have my books and my porcelain dolls), and with people that make you happy (your supporter, friends, loved ones). It’s much easier when you don’t have to fight this serious disorder by yourself.
It may be enough for some of you to know just that the possibility is there. I wish someone had told me that I could be happy someday in spite of my bipolar disorder, because it was a real struggle for me in the beginning. I just want you to know that yes, BP is a serious disorder, but you can get stable, and you can get happy anyway. It just may take some time.
I have been stable for quite a while now, and definitely enjoy my life. I will always have bipolar disorder (barring a cure), but I don’t have to let it rule over me or determine whether I am happy or not.
Wishing you peace and stability,
Remember God loves you and so do I,