I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type I at the age of 23. At the time I was in a psychotic mania and in a closed mental health unit. I was a most severe case and was transported there from the ER. I believe it was triggered by a traumatic car accident I was in a year later. My head went completely through the windshield of my car in a bad crash. I should have died but they were able to clamp my bleeding artery in time at the hospital. I ended up having 150 stitches in my face via plastic surgery.
My first stay in the mental health unit lasted about 2 months. I was such a severe case the Doctors were sure I would never recover or live a normal life. My family was crushed and thought my life was over. God had other plans and eventually I was discharged.
I spiraled down into a dark depression. My career was pretty much down the tubes at this point. They rehired another person in a well paying executive job I held at a good company.
I was angry and stopped taking my meds. I found another good job but sure enough it happened again. Psychotic Mania-Hospitalization-Depression. I was crushed. I was sick of life and my disease. I struggled with loss and stigma. It was the stigma that was one of the biggest challenges. I didn’t want to hide that I was Bipolar so I was open with it. My family told me to hide it since this would only cause me trouble if I didn’t.
Well, I ended up moving out to Phoenix, AZ from Chicago, IL. The sunshine has helped. However, I still encounter the stigma that exists everywhere. I recently got fired from a job. I told them I had Bipolar and 4 months later got fired. Before that I was promoted and told how good I was doing at my job. I was never written up or warned for anything.
I can only hope NAMI and mentally ill community can be a voice to our society. Ignorance exists and I fear the media has cultivated much of this. Many people are mentally ill and are successful. I comply with my meds and I am quite functional. Just because I have Bipolar does not mean I am the disease. I am still a person. A human being with a soul.
I will continue to fight the stigma with my determination and desire to educate what Bipolar is and isn’t. I will also do it with love, kindness, gentleness, and respect. Mostly this is what our world needs.