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Things can get better

Posted Nov 16 2012 6:59am

This is a fantastic post by Mark Vasey at Mental Health Realities about what those of us with bipolar disorder go through in order to battle our symptoms towards a seemingly impossible goal of remission.

Mental Health Realities: Stages Of Recovery In Bipolar Disorder: Love And Self-Acceptance : Here I am almost three years since I almost ended my own life.  I am nine months sober, and I am on a very low level of medicine for my Bipolar Disorder .  I am once again working towards my college degree in journalism, and this semester has been a success both academically and socially.  Perhaps the most important thing though is that I have reached a new level of acceptance, and that for the first time in a long time I feel like a normal person.

 I finally feel like I have reached the level of recovery that I expected when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder in the beginning of 2009.  It wasn't easy, but I made it through being over-medicated, an overdose, and alcoholism that spiraled out of control.  I now look at going to rehab at Mountainside as the best decision I ever made and I would recommend Mountainside to anyone who thinks they need to go to rehab for addiction.

Now that I am at this point I have been looking back at my own experiences and also at the other people with Bipolar Disorder who I have encountered along the way.  I have realized that there seems to be different stages of recovery that people with Bipolar Disorder go through in the recovery process.  These differ from person to person in how intense they are and how long they last.
Here are the stages that I noticed in myself.

When I was first diagnosed, my diagnosis seemed to make my whole life up to that point make sense.  However, I struggled with feeling comfortable around other people.  I used to think that people could tell I was different because I perceived myself in the beginning to be different.  I think then I went through a stage where in reaction to those original feelings, I became obsessed over the disorder and told a lot of people about it to a fault.  I realize now that I was trying to accept it myself and at the time telling other people was the easiest way to make myself believed that I had accepted my disorder.

  I also went through a period of time where I read everything I could about Bipolar Disorder to try and understand the disorder, and myself better.  This was more important in the earlier stages because I identified so strongly with the disorder.  I think it can be really hard in the beginning to see where the personality ends and the disorder begins.  I also think that for a long time I looked for acceptance from other people when I really just needed to accept and love myself unconditionally.  This is what I really learned to do when I got sober.  A lot of the acceptance process for both my addiction and Bipolar Disorder took place at Mountainside.  I learned to put myself first and not do things just to please other people.  I learned that loving myself was actually the way to get people to like me.  This acceptance has continued through weekly therapy sessions and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Now that I have reached a stage of stability and happiness I can say that things can really get better for those of us with Bipolar Disorder.  However, things only get better on the condition that we do the things necessary to our recovery.  For example, eating healthy, exercising, getting proper sleep, taking medications as prescribed, getting therapy, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.  I didn't take care of myself for a long time and that stood in the way of my recovery.  Unfortunately, I see a lot of other people with Bipolar Disorder who are stuck in past stages that I had once been stuck in.  Things get better.  It just takes self acceptance, patience, and a commitment to doing the right thing all the time.
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