I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 1 in 2009. The years following where rough. I had previously been diagnosed with other mental health conditions and struggled. By 2012 I was applying for disability and undergoing my first series of ECT which would continue throughout the next year. I was started on bipolar medicines in 2009 and began DBT therapy. Throughout that time period of my late 20’s and early 30’s (2009-2013), I was hospitalized numerous times for suicide attempts, suicide ideation, anxiety and depression. But December of 2013 was the last time I would be hospitalized for a suicide attempt. After getting out of the hospital that time, I ended an unhealthy dating relationship, continued my therapy and medications, and started working on setting small goals.
One goal I had was to start playing music again in a band. I have played guitar since age 14 and had been in various bands throughout my life, but it had been a few years since I played guitar regularly or with others.
So in the Spring of 2014 I started a band called Recovery with other individuals living with mental health conditions, two of them with bipolar disorder. We began jamming, and writing original songs, and having fun. This did wonders for my mental health.
I also applied for a part-time job at a public library. I was offered the job and started working again part-time. This helped me feel better about myself, and helped me structure my time throughout the week. I continued in therapy and on my medications. I also stayed social with friends, family, and utilized community mental health resources.
Another thing I did to keep on the path of recovery was to call a crisis line if and when I felt I needed extra support for my mental health. It didn’t happen often, but when I needed it, I found the crisis line helpful, supportive, and understanding. A national crisis line in the United States is National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
I became part of a faith community and volunteered at my church. I made spiritual practice a regular part of my life and my mental health recovery.
I decided that dating didn’t have to be a priority.
Eventually I did date, but made healthier choices, which I feel was possible because I was happy with who I was as a person, and content to be single if it meant avoiding an unhealthy relationship. In 2015 I met my wife, and we got married.
Since 2013’s hospitalization, I began to exercise more regularly. I also had a sleep study and learned about a sleep disorder I have, and was treated for it. Getting regular, healthy, sleep has helped my mental health tremendously. I began reading again. I also started blogging in 2015.
The past three years since my last hospitalization have not been easy. They have been very difficult actually. I have endured hardships financially, been diagnosed with new medical problems, and experienced the loss of my son. But I’ve had many moments of joy and contentment, found love and a healthy lifelong relationship, and made new friendships and strengthened old friendships. I found a job as a coffee barista that is not too stressful, where I can work part-time, be around people, and learn new skills. I’m sticking with the basics, and things I know that help me like taking my medications, sleeping and eating well, and exercising. I am part of a faith community. I try to minimize stressors and avoid stressful situations when possible. I pray. I read. I listen to music. I reflect, and I write. I am thankful for all of my experiences, even the difficult ones because they have made me who I am today and made this journey of bipolar recovery possible.
Living a meaningful life with purpose is possible with bipolar disorder. Recovery is possible.
I encourage you to make healthy decisions, keep going even after setbacks or when it is difficult, and reach out for help when you need it. I hope to have many more years of bipolar recovery and hope your recovery journey is long lasting as well.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community