The first year after being diagnosed is definitely the worst part of having bipolar disorder , in my opinion. Everything is so new to you, for one thing. I mean, you’ve just been given a name to put to all the chaos and drama that has preceded you for God knows how long in your life, and now you are faced with what to do with it from here.
And you don’t have a lot of teachers. Not really. That is, unless you get a good psychiatrist, therapist, and support group, which is what I recommend, right off the bat. They can help you not only with the right medication, but to help you with the myriad of questions you will inevitably have about the disorder and what having it means, and what kind of impact it will have on your life.
One of the questions you may ask is, “What do I have to change?” But be careful when you ask this question, as you may have to be prepared for the answer, “You have to change everything.” At least that’s what they told me. Everything had to change, from my attitude to my lifestyle. From what I did to what I ate.
One of the things I hated most about having bipolar disorder (still hate, as a matter of fact), is not being in control. I’ve learned to accept, over time, and with therapy, that there are some things over which I have no control; however, there are some things over which I do have control. So I concentrate on those things I do have control over. Like, I can’t control the fact that I have bipolar disorder, or that I have to take medication every day for the rest of my life if I want to remain stable. But I can control my diet and exercise. So I do. I make healthy lifestyle choices. It was one of the first things I changed when I found out I had bipolar disorder.
It’s a little harder to change your attitude and the choices you make. For instance, I liked my manias. I really did. I liked the “high” feeling they gave me. I didn’t wanna give them up when I was diagnosed. But I knew if I was going to get better, I had to listen to the doctor and do it. I knew that the medication would stabilize my moods and take away my manic highs, but in return my life would become more manageable, so I thought the trade-off would be worth it in the long run. So I willingly took the medication. It was a good choice. And I had a good attitude about it. It wasn’t about what I was losing, but about what I was gaining.
Stability became the name of the game. I was sick of the ups and downs that had ruled my life for so long. I was tired of the drama and chaos. I wanted some peace in my life, and some control. I hated that things were so out of control all the time. And if making some changes in my life meant that this would change, then I was more than willing to do it.
You have to be, too. It’s the willingness I’m getting at here. That willingness is up to you. It has to come from you. It won’t come from the medication. It won’t come from the doctor. It comes from you and your own choices and attitude. Here’s the main questions: Do you want to get better? Do you want your life to be better than it has been till now? If so, then you have to be willing to make changes. Where you go from here is up to you.