Bipolar Didn’t Stop Me

My story started out with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder at age 11. Soon after, a peer from school died in a freak accident. Before I turned 23, I had been to well over 40+ funerals all while dealing with a mood disorder with no cure. My first experience of psychosis was when I was 16. This happened just after my boyfriend of 2 years and first love, also diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, had hung himself from a swing-set at a park in Winter Garden.

What caused you to feel hopeless, trapped or otherwise unable to choose life?

Bipolar Disorder has no cure, only medications to help alleviate the severity of the symptoms; which are extreme ups (hypomania or mania) and extreme downs (depression). I was also dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the death of my first love and numerous other deaths, which is itself incurable. My first suicidal thought happen during the psychosis. Everything felt like a dream. Doctors tried to find medications for me, but I had bad reactions or uncomfortable side-affects to most of these medications. Eventually, I was deemed medication “non-compliant”, and psychiatrists were refusing to see me. Throughout my life, I have experienced suicidal thoughts, ideations, or attempted suicide countless times during ups or downs, but mostly during downs. I felt hopeless, as though life would never be worthwhile living with Bipolar Disorder and having been so traumatized in my youth.

How did you overcome the feelings?

I overcame these feelings by learning to accept what is rather than trying to put the pressure on myself to fix it. Acceptance changed everything for me. I know now that life can be and often is really hard, but I also know that the less I dwell or try to solve a reality rather than a problem, the more I enjoy living it. I know my disorder has no cure, I accept that medication has been unsuccessful for me, but I have found my voice as the savior in my story. I have learned to use my voice to ask for help or speak up when I am struggling and heading into a potential crisis.

Who or what do you believe gave you the strength to keep fighting?

I believe that my family, and my friends, gave me the strength to keep fighting. They checked in on me when I was isolating myself or not acting like my usual self. Furthermore, I believe talking to someone about the loop I was stuck in helped me find strategies to break out of my negative thinking patterns. Therapy was and still is extremely helpful for me. Lastly, I highly recommend meditation, Yoga or positive music. I personally have trouble calming my mind in a meditative state, so I recommend Kirtan or Chakradance for Meditation if you have trouble with traditional meditations.

Did you make use of any resources while you were in crisis? (this includes hospitalization, suicide hotlines or other local organizations)

I have made use of resources on numerous occasions. I have only called the suicide hotline once and stayed on the phone with the women for an hour just trying to calm myself and find some way to overcome my negative thoughts. I have been hospitalized during very difficult episodes that had me believing I could harm myself. I have also joined Facebook groups where others are living with similar disorders so I feel less alone.

What do you do now to maintain Healthy thoughts and push past the bad ones?

To keep my healthy inner dialog, I have started to journal, blog and share openly. I also engage in music Meditations and teach some classes at a local meditation center. I try to find gratitude everyday, I have faith in something bigger than myself, I don’t allow myself to dwell on feelings or thoughts, and I do my best to be intentional in everything I do so there is no guilt or shame as I move through life. Another thing I have done to stay healthy is to enforce a rule not to judge others or compare myself to others. I know that a lot of my unhealthy thinking patterns start when I am judging others or comparing myself to them, so now I may think something, but I have successfully fought the urges to speak them into reality. I also have some friends on call, like my friend Ana Maria, who is a Psych-K facilitator, and I make a conscious effort to keep my inner dialog healthy and supportive for myself and those around me.

What advice can you share with others about your personal experience and how you personally learned to accept a situation that did not have a middle or end (such as your mental health disorder or anything else that caused you to experience these feelings)?

I think that when I learned to accept that some situations are not problems, but rather realities, it enhanced my ability to stop trying to find a solution. I cannot personally change the reality that Bipolar Disorder is not curable to those in the scientific community, however, I believe that Bipolar Disorder is possibly curable or more manageable if I accept that it exists and look for ways to improve how I feel, think and behave, I am living a happier way to exist. My advice to anyone who’s struggling is this: Choose happiness. Choose to stop seeing hopelessness when simply being alive is hopeful and worthwhile. Choose to believe you can overcome your inner turmoil because you are a survivor. Choose to embrace your strength and lean on yourself. Choose to be your own hero, but choose not to decide you are weak when you reach out for support during the tough times. Choose life even when you can’t see how it will get better, because it will, and most thoughts are fleeting. Choose to speak kindly to yourself and others and offer forgiveness as often as possible.

I am a mental health warrior living with Bipolar Disorder. I practice and teach yoga and music meditations like Kirtan and Chakradance. I love to meet new people and I love to break stigmas about bipolar and mental health disorders. I am currently studying to become a Neuropsychologist. I am a mother of 2 kids

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