I was diagnosed with Bipolar II 10 years ago. I was 29 back then. I’m an ultra-rapid cycler and I oscillate mostly between euthymia (normal non-depressed, reasonably positive mood) and depression. Even though I’m Bipolar II, I rarely get hypomanias. This is something bad since in my case I am unable to produce a lot of creativity, a sparkly personality or a greater sensitivity overall.
I don’t belong to any support groups. So, apart from my therapist, I spend time e-mailing with people that read my book, “BipolarReddit” and nowadays Twitter. I also spend a lot of time with my real life friends.
I’d say the hardest things I have faced in my case were extremely long periods of suicidal states. The depression was so strong that my soul (or conscience, or existence, or however you want to call it) literally hurts. It hurts being alive. Also, I’ve been through lengthy periods of anhedonia, which is a state that can be derived from depression in which you don’t enjoy anything; so there is no reason to do anything… even to live. I have no desire to go out, be with people, talk or even have sex. I am passing through this period right now. I really crave to feel something, anything, that makes me feel my life has any sort of sense of purpose other than feeling totally numb or depressed.
Luckily I am able to work. I had a late onset so I had my engineering degree before the symptoms started. I have worked in small companies and large corporations but I’m always on entry-level jobs for an engineer. I’ve been fired from 3 out of my 5 jobs. Watching all my old friends become wealthy and successful is not easy. Especially since I owe my poor performance to bipolar and the co-morbid ADD and sleep disorder I also have. Right now I’m working at a small VoIP phone company and I have the salary of an engineer that’s fresh out of school, but it pays the bills of a single man.
I would advice any people with bipolar to get into sports regularly and practice things that force your mind into a more calm state, like Yoga and meditation especially. Also constantly challenge their psychiatrist and therapist. Be on top of things and let them know that you are. Remember that your single, most important goal is to get stable. If you don’t get stable with a certain combination of meds for a period of, I’d say, 3 months, then you must have serious words with your doctor and change your drug therapy. If your psychiatrist refuses to do so, ask him for a strong reason to stick with your current combo or directly change psychiatrists. Your life is more important than their ego.
Please note: I can’t come out of the closet with my real name since the earnings that the book produces are not yet enough for me to quit my job, and in my country (Chile) the stigma is extremely hard. My pen name is George Ison, I wrote a book called “Diary of a Bipolar” that is for sale on paperback and digital on Amazon and other major sites.
www.diaryofabipolar.com Blog: http://depfree.wordpress.com Twitter: @George_Ison