Guest Post: Bipolar Disorder and Me by Lou Farrell

It has taken a long time for me to come to terms with my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. It was back in 2002, after the birth of my son, that things became a little strange, shall we say.

Before 2002 I had been in and out of the hospital with depression; there was the idea floating about that I was exhibiting signs of bipolar, but I had yet to have a manic phase, so they could not diagnose me as such.

After the birth of my son, which was not an easy one, I had to be fully anaesthetised. When I awoke, I saw my son in my mother’s arms; this was an incredible sight; he was alive, and so was I. However, after several weeks, I developed the delusion that my son was my mothers and not my own. It would not go away, and I still have strong memories of it now.

It got so bad I ended up in hospital diagnosed with Puerplar Psychosis, a form of postnatal depression and I was also finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It took many months to recover; I think I was in the hospital for at least three months.

Strangely, I was pleased I finally had the diagnosis, and it made so much sense to me based on my previous behaviours with money, sex and relationships. It was as though a new world had opened up to me, of which only a few are members, but at the same time, I knew it would be something I would experience for the rest of my life.

Little did I know at that time how long it would take for me to come to terms with my illness. I rebelled against it in so many ways, from refusing to take medication, placing myself in stressful situations and burning the candle and both ends.

I’m thankful that I have a very supportive family, and they would often pick up the pieces of my life after a manic episode, and I went for many years without being manic. I was able to hold down a full-time job, have a stable relationship and manage my finances. This lasted for around seven years, and then the relationship ended, and I ended up in a deep depression which has been a nightmare to get out of, but I have, thankfully. But during that time, I had not had a hypomanic episode, and I was not on any form of medication for bipolar. I began to believe I did not have it at all, and it was depression all along.

But my thoughts were dashed to smithereens as hypomania set in, and I ended up getting myself into massive debt; thankfully, I wasn’t hospitalised again and was treated at home with the support of my family.

It took a few months to get over that episode, and I then began working on myself through mindfulness and meditation plus aromatherapy. I changed my diet to a diet similar to a bear full of nuts, berries and fish. Thankfully my new way of living was working I was able to cope.

It has been a few years now, and I still have the odd blip, just this past Christmas, I contracted Covid, and boy did it knock me for six. And something strange happened afterwards. I went hypomanic. My sleep was atrocious; staying awake all day and night and not eating, I lost around twenty pounds, my spending was out of control again, and it seemed to take an age for my medication to increase to work.

Thankfully it never tripped into full-blown mania, but one of the benefits I actually like from mania is the ideas. I become full of them, and I write erratically in my notebooks all my thoughts, sometimes some of them are good, other times they are far out there, but I reflect upon these ideas afterwards.

And it so happened that one of those ideas was to start blogging about everything I have learnt about my illness over the years. So I started, and it has been very cathartic, and it turns out it is helping other people, which is all I ever wanted. To pass my experience on to help people with bipolar, newly diagnosed or those in the rebellious stage.

Since starting my blog, I am training to become a cognitive behavioural therapist, and things are going well. I know that as my age progresses, the downsides of bipolar may appear more often than not, but I have the experience to know how to deal with them. Although nobody can deal with a full-blown manic episode alone, not that I know of anyway.

You can live a good life with bipolar disorder, but it takes time to know what you are capable of and what you aren’t. I know that I cannot work for other people, and I have to make my own way, mainly because I can not handle the stress as it will trip me into depression or hypomania. I also know that therapy, medication and alternative forms of living are best suited to me than the usual standards prescribed for those without bipolar.

Understanding what I’m capable of has helped tremendously, and I would advise anyone with bipolar disorder to find balance within their lives and be kind to themselves. It does get better the more experience you have, and this makes for a brighter future.

Lou Farrell is a holistic mental health coach and mental health blog writer. She has a website dedicated to mental health issues and wellness, covering meditation to mental illness. She writes from the perspective of experiencing mental health problems and shares her knowledge to help others. You can find more articles by her on her website, You can also follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

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