After struggling for four years with various antidepressants, I came to the realization my life would never be the same. I had to move on, get off my pity potty and learn a new way of life. I could have a fulfilling productive life after accepting the fact I had a biological brain disorder of which there was no cure. However, I could manage those symptoms, learn coping skills, accept my limitations, move forward, and have a life. Maybe not the same life I had anticipated but a new and different way of life. I had to take medication, but I knew it was necessary to maintain stability and clear thinking. Besides, I thought, there are worse things in life.
My road to recovery began the day I stepped into a support group for people with Bipolar Disorder. There I met people just like me! They had happy lives, careers, and families – just what I longed for. Those wonderful people accepted me as I was. They treated me with respect and dignity and showed me that I, too, could achieve the same! And I am here today as proof that recovery is not only possible, recovery is real, and recovery is achievable.
In 1990’s, I began living again. Volunteer work led to job opportunities working with others with mental illness. After educating myself, I eventually found my calling – educating people with biological brain disorders. I found I had much to share and give to others. A biological brain disorder does not come without setbacks as I learned in 2000 and 2006 when I was briefly hospitalized.
Despite my best efforts to manage my symptoms, I can still have episodes where my mood and medicine gets out of whack and I require medical attention. Since I was engaged in my recovery, these short hospital stays not only resulted in minor setbacks, but also served as very good learning experiences.
This is what I call the nature of the beast – my illness can cause some disruption in my life despite my best efforts, but does not have to end in catastrophe. With my supports in place, a good psychiatrist, and understanding peers, it is only a tiny blip on the radar screen!