The last thing I wanted to do was get treatment for my bipolar disorder.
I have known for years that I have bipolar 1 disorder and somewhere along the way I also developed PTSD. But knowing a diagnosis and seeking treatment are two different things.
Why did I avoid treatment for bipolar disorder?
My episodes were spread out so mostly I felt “fine”
when I am manic I feel great. Why change?
I’m not going to the looney bin (stigma of institutions)
I was scared of treatment options because of movies like “One flew over the cuckoo nest” where electroshock was a choice.
What or Who made me decide to get treatment?
I may have felt great being manic, but my family saw a different side of my mania. Sometimes, I would get irritable and impatient with family members. This is totally not my personality to be upset or act aggressively in any way.
I was posting a lot of inappropriate things on social media. This was a sign to my family that I was living through a manic episode.
Then I started living on the streets in Austin, TX with symptoms of mania and psychosis. When I got dehydrated, I had to go to the emergency room to get IV fluids and check for a heart attack since I had fainted on a sidewalk.
I didn’t have a cell phone but I had a Facebook page. One of the nurses was able to find my sister on Facebook and let her know that I was in the hospital emergency room.
When my sister and mother came and got me they had a suitcase already packed for me. They also handed me the phone to talk to my daughter.
My daughter found a medical center that would take me. She convinced me to check myself in by saying, “If you don’t get help I will lose you and cry for a year.”
Bipolar Peer Support
Why I’m glad I got treatment?
Going to the hospital was a good thing:
I had my own room, since I was staying up late talking and would disturb any other patients in my room.
The food was excellent.
I got to play a guitar and write a new song.
I was not alone. People understood. Peer support.
I got my meds.
Getting my meds was anti-climatic. I didn’t feel any different taking them. Somehow, I must have thought I would be knocked out or loopy. Instead, I spent time learning what my meds were supposed to do. Like smooth out my moods was the job of mood stabilizers.
It has been three years and I have taken my meds and had a few dosage changes but all in all they seem to be working. I also get regular sleep for 8 hours every night as sleeplessness is a trigger for mania. For one year I attended counseling to help me move ahead and get a job and live independently again.
I have had manic episodes and depression but the severity is mild and lasted weeks rather than months.