So over the years I’ve had a few super common questions. I figured I would just consolidate them all into one post.
Q: Are you medicated?
A: Yep- I have been on a steady regiment of Depakote for several years. Prior to being stable on Depakote, I took a slew of other medications but none of those were the right fit. I also did lots of cognitive behavioural therapy in order to get where I am today. Check out my post specifically on getting diagnosed and medicated.
Q: How long have you had it?
A: Likely my whole life, in hindsight a lot of my behavior as a child points to childhood presentation of the disorder. But it was misdiagnosed numerous times (as is totally common with BPAD) as an early teen until I was 17.
Q: But you seem so normal?
A: I’ve always been really high functioning, which means that I was able to maintain friendships, relationships, and my basic responsibilities. But on the inside I was suffering, a lot. And only those closest to me truly saw it. There are also other symptoms that are totally apparent if you know what you’re looking for. For example, the fact that I speak so quickly is really pressured speech, and the fact that I am so stubbornly “Type A” is a presentation of my anxiety; which is a component of bipolar disorder.
Q: Is it offensive if I use the word “bipolar” to describe something other than the disorder itself; for example the weather?
A: What is important here isn’t so much the question of whether or not it is offensive; but instead realising what type of internal reaction such verbiage might trigger. When I was first diagnosed and struggling to accept it; hearing someone use the phrase “bipolar” to describe something such as the weather or an ex girlfriend was super hurtful. It always made me think that there was something societally wrong with me; and it made it harder for me to not only accept my condition, but be open about it with friends and family. It made me feel as if I had a massive secret to hide. Nowadays, when I hear it, it doesn’t really impact me. Instead of hurting me, it just makes feel as though the person who uses it in such a manner is uneducated and ignorant. So my general advice is avoid using it, because it definitely can hurt people, and there are just so many other words out there to use.
Q: How can we help our friends who are bipolar when they’re having an off day?
A: Everyone is different, so ask them, and then listen to them. Let them vent to you, remind them that they are loved, and just be there. Don’t run away from them when they’re asking for your support.
Q: I think I might be bipolar, or have some other type of mental illness. What should I do?
A: First off, its never a good idea to self-diagnose. But if you are experiencing symptoms, you owe it to yourself to see a specialist so that you can find inner peace. I recommend talking with your insurance company to find out which providers in your area are in your network, and then selecting one from that list. It’s important that when you do go, you feel comfortable with this person for they will become one of your most trusted advisors.