Posted September 1, 2009
I was 38 when I was diagnosed with bipolar with chronic depression. I always knew something was wrong but was never sure. My husband now of almost 18 years had mentioned that I might have bipolar, but it really made me mad. All you ever saw on TV were the extremes of bipolar, and it just didn’t seem to fit me. But after one weekend of going from happy to sad to mad to whatever, I was finally diagnosed. What I was going thru is called rapid cycling.
That diagnosis saved my marriage. You see, we were on the verge of splitting up. I was the one who wanted out. I couldn’t stand anyone, not even myself. I had been seeing a therapist for over 2 years who did not think I had bipolar, just that I had bad tapes and needed to change things in my head. During those years I could not understand why I couldn’t do what he said. But only after being diagnosed and put on medication did I begin to start to feel better. I slept for the first time through the night and felt great when I awoke. I would always sleep a little, get up, sleep a bit more, and thought that was what most people did.
I had a breakdown at work, ended up in the hospital, and came out even more manic. After a couple of months, my dad passed away and I ended up in the hospital again. This time, I came out in a deep depression which lasted around 6 months. I stayed in bed or on the sofa. My husband took off work to take care of me. I didn’t want to go anywhere, didn’t want to even comb my hair. I had no feelings at all. For the first time in my life I couldn’t cry, laugh or feel anything. That was the worst feeling of all – the numbness.
I am so fortunate to have a husband who understands this illness – not that he likes it when I go manic and get irritated and blame him for everything, but he knows that those times will pass and the girl he fell in love with is still inside. These past 18 years have been tough on our marriage, but we made a commitment to each other to love and understand whatever comes our way.
I have been hospitalized two other times after being diagnosed. This I did on my own. I had stopped taking my medication, because I was tired of feeling fat and was determined that the meds were making or keeping me that way. After two months off the meds, I started getting really manic, and I went to the hospital myself instead of getting back on the medication. I went into the hospital to regulate my medication but then I fell into the deep depression again that lasted for six months but never really got out until two years later. That has been almost four years now since that hospitalization.
I now only take something for my mood swings. I eat healthy and walk almost everyday. I feel better than I have in a long time. I know that the exercise and healthy eating helps my illness. I love my life and am grateful for my loving husband and two sons and their spouses and my grandchildren. I know this illness will be a part of me for the rest of my life, but I am determined not to let bipolar run my life. I will continue taking my medication, seeing my psychiatrist, and seeking out a therapist when I need help with whatever life throws my way.
You can check out Jacki’s blog about living with bipolar at jj-livingwithbipolar.blogspot.com.