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a mental health diagnosis

by bkk99

“You are manic depressive. You have bipolar disorder.”

Those words would make any heart skip a beat. Being told that you have something biochemically wrong with you, such as bipolar disorder, something that can’t be fixed, is a lot to handle. Diagnosed at 19, and forced to live with it for the rest of your life. What would you do? What could you do?

The normal route is to go on mood stabilizers, and an antidepressant unless you are already on one, like I was. And said stabilizer doesn’t, you know, stabilize for a few weeks, so you are still left feeling like shit. I’m not blaming the medication because I know it takes that long to work, but goddamn it I still feel like absolute garbage. I’m in the depressive phase right now, and I feel utterly out of control. I don’t know how to stop that other than writing.

I don’t know what I was to accomplish by writing this out, but I wanted to touch on a subject that is not talked about too often. A lot of people discuss depression and anxiety, both of which I have been suffering from for years, and that is perfectly valid. But sitting here, in my college’s library, and calming myself down from the fear of failure now that I have this permanent diagnosis… it’s a lot to handle.

I have no idea what my future holds, and I am scared. I am terrified. I can only hope that I will be able to handle it and that I will continue to try to prosper to the best of my abilities. Right now, I’m going to focus on feeling better as much as I can.

Here’s to the rest of this frickin’ life. I hope that it goes up from here.

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1271 Reviews

Points: 38224
Reviews: 1271

Wed Nov 13, 2019 6:18 pm
niteowl wrote a review...

Hi there bkk99! Niteowl here to review.

Okay, so this is going to be part actual review, part advice, as I definitely have some personal experience with this topic.

As far as the writing itself goes, it's more of a blog entry than anything. I agree with the statement that bipolar and other "severe" mental illnesses aren't talked about as much as depression or anxiety, so I'd love to see this explored in more detail. Perhaps once you get some distance, you'll be able to incorporate more details in discussing your experiences, but I understand that's really hard when this is still raw.

The normal route is to go on mood stabilizers, and an antidepressant unless you are already on one, like I was.

This is somewhat incorrect. Standard antidepressants (e.g. Prozac or Zoloft) are actually not recommended for bipolar patients since they can trigger mania. There's another class of medicines, the atypical antipsychotics, that's usually paired with a mood stabilizer. That sounds kind of scary, but these are actually prescribed for a lot of things, not just psychotic symptoms. Granted, every case is different and some bipolar people do take SSRIs, so follow your doctor's advice.

But sitting here, in my college’s library, and calming myself down from the fear of failure now that I have this permanent diagnosis… it’s a lot to handle.

I like the personal detail here. Sitting in the library is a concrete thing the reader can tie the rest of the emotion into.

Okay, now onto the "wise old owl attempts to advise" portion: I have bipolar disorder type 1, first diagnosed via super-dramatic manic-psychotic episode when I was 20 (I'm now 29) that led to a two-week stay in the all-inclusive friendly neighborhood psych ward. I thought my life was over and I was never going to amount to anything. Long story short, I ended up graduating on time with honors, fumbled my way through grad school and a Master's degree, and am now the most stable and happy I've been in years. It wasn't easy, and there were definitely roadblocks along the way, but it's definitely better than the doom and gloom I was picturing. Personally, I'm so glad I got diagnosed when I did, as I still had family and school support I wouldn't have had if I'd gotten diagnosed later in life.

My pro tips:

-Find a good therapist and psychiatrist. Be honest and communicate with them. Since you're in school, they should have some services available or be able to refer you somewhere. Support groups can also be helpful, though I've had mixed results with them.

-Make self-care a priority as much as possible. Sometimes easier said than done, but ultimately, none of the other stuff will matter if your mental health takes a nosedive.

-Learn what triggers you and try to prepare for those situations. I know travel, group social events, and change like moving or a new job are big ones for me. Work with your therapist and support people to get through those tough times.

-It's easy to get obsessed with timelines and feeling like other people are doing so much better than you, but life is not a sprint. Sometimes I get stuck in feeling like I "should" have done this or that by now, and my therapist has to remind me that I have made progress compared to where I was one or two years ago.

-Have good support people around you, like family or close friends. People who won't judge you for having symptoms but that can be honest with you when things are getting worse.

-An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison (a psychiatrist who has bipolar) is a great read.

Okay, I've rambled long enough. I do hope things get better for you. Keep writing! :D

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171 Reviews

Points: 10132
Reviews: 171

Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:16 pm
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WinnyWriter wrote a review...

Hey, there. My sympathies go out to you. I know how dark and helpless it can feel to be in depression. Just remember that you don't need to feel pressed to get away from it. Take your time to learn how to cope and heal. Also, don't blame yourself. A chemical imbalance, which is what causes depression, is not a choice that you made, so you can't just make it go away by a simple choice either. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. You don't have to be a failure just because of a permanent diagnosis. It will not be the end of life and happiness for you.

I agree with you that subjects like this need to be addressed more often. I've been told over and over that depression shouldn't be any more shameful than any other physical condition, like high blood pressure. As with high blood pressure and other imbalances in the body, it takes a while to get it leveled back out again. And even if it is a permanent condition, it doesn't have to mean the pronouncement of doom. Still, I get the idea that depression has been kind of taboo for quite a while because people don't understand it. Just remember that one of the first steps in being able to conquer it is to acknowledge it and remember - it's okay! No, you wouldn't want to stay there all your life, but this is also not the end.

Well, I send my prayers and best wishes. Keep encouraged!

bkk99 says...

Thank you so much!

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43 Reviews

Points: 511
Reviews: 43

Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:41 pm
Miraculor77 says...

I have a feeling that you only wrote this to share it and that you probably don't want reviews. Being diagnosed and having to just live with it must be extremely hard. I hope things do go up for you. :)

Most teens feel life's ups and downs extremely hard, that's normal. But what you have to deal with is far more difficult. Depression isn't something you can control. It happens and you have to deal with its effects. Even as the reader, I can feel a shadow of your pain.

This probably won't help in any way, but whenever I'm feeling particularly sad/tired/numb, I try to write (like you do) and listen to music in the hopes that it might thaw me. I could link some songs that I listen to often, if you want.

From your last two sentences, I get the feeling that you want to believe that life will get better. And trust me, it will. Life has its crests and falls, but it won't stay down.

That's one of the only things I'm sure of.

Well, I sincerely hope that your life gets better. Here's to a bright future, yeah?

bkk99 says...

Depression is something I can deal with, it's the manic episodes that scare me. However, I really do thank you for this response! It helped me. :)

If you want to make enemies, try to change something.
— Woodrow Wilson