Posted July 28, 2012 by David

I have been diagnosed for twenty years with bipolar disorder. At first it was schizoaffective disorder and for the last several years it has been bipolar. My journey began as many do, in my twenties. It involved obesity, isolation, suicide attempts, disability, inability to work productively, embarrassment, shame, etc. I had given up on having a “normal life” but somewhere inside of me, there was a glimmer of hope.

My parents, who were in the field, sent me to the best doctors in my area. This didn’t help because no one really understood me. They treated me with the “medical model,” meaning they used medications as the primary treatment method. One doctor put me on 7 different medications. This caused my eyes to roll back in my head and make me dizzy. I was a mess!

Finally, by chance, I found a psychiatrist who treated me like a person and not like a diagnosis. He did not care about diagnosis, he cared about me and took my symptoms very seriously, some of which were psychotic. Over 6 years with this person, I became a different person — My depression subsided, my isolation ended, I began to date, and I even went back to graduate school to become a social worker.

I am now in recovery, engaged, looking to begin a PhD program to study ideas of recovery from mental illness. I have been blessed; after multiple hospitalizations, I have come full circle. I will never be cured, always will need medication, but I can do most of what I want to do in life, through the blessing of this therapist.

I have read that the most important thing to have to deal with mental illness is to have at least one person who believes in you. I never had that until I met my therapist. He never said that I was disabled and never tried to hold me back. To the contrary, he encouraged me to follow my dreams, and that has made the difference. Thanks for listening!