This post is dedicated to my medical team whose support and expert treatment have saved me from myself.
I would hazard a guess that for most of us who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the diagnosis was both liberating and devastating at the same time. For me, as the reality dawned, I felt as if I was walking into dark woods, with a slight sliver of light shining in through the tree tops.
After what can only be described as an almighty meltdown, I finally came to my senses (albeit muddled up senses) and decided to seek help. Fortunately for me, I was directed to the doorstep of both a specialist psychiatrist, as well as a caring psychologist with extensive experience in mood disorders.
My first few sessions were all over the show, I was a mess and battled to articulate what I was feeling. Then, slowly but surely between my doctors and I we managed to untangle the chaos in my life and embark on a path of discovery. This path was really windy and composed of a few steps forward and more steps back. Eventually, my medical team agreed on a diagnosis; bipolar disorder.
That word ‘bipolar disorder’ exploded all over me. I knew what was causing my turmoil and extreme mood swings, but I also felt trapped. I had an illness, a lifetime illness that shook me to the core.
All through my life I had known that I wasn’t ‘normal’, but I had always reckoned that with time I would settle down and begin to calmly enjoy life. One scenario led to another. I chased goals and dreams, believing that when I achieved them, I would finally be fulfilled and that would lead to stability.
At the age of 46, I eventually realised that this wasn’t going to happen and so I started toying with taking the ‘therapy’ route. Little did I know that my need for therapy would be fast tracked and in January 2015, I woke up one morning and I couldn’t stop crying.
These weren’t just a few melancholy tears, this was sobbing that racked my body and it felt as if it was my heart and mind were tearing apart. I felt broken and ripped to shreds, yet I couldn’t fathom why. All I knew was that if I didn’t get help, I wouldn’t be able to carry on. Years and years of being bounced up and down and whirling around like a spinning top, had finally dropped me into a black abyss.
After my bipolar diagnosis I was immediately prescribed the correct mood stabilising mediation and slowly but surely I began to find equilibrium. This became a further road to discovery as we began the arduous task of optimising combinations and doses of medication. I also continued with weekly therapy. My therapist became my ‘home base’ and guided me through the quagmire and mood swings.
I am finally on the path to stability, but I do know that I may still bounce around and vacillate between highs and lows. These hopefully won’t be as extreme as they were before. Although I am still travelling though the dark woods I will be guided by rays of light that are shining through the tree tops.