Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Jomaspan: Born Bipolar

I’m one of those people who believe that you are born with bipolar disorder. When and how it manifests is based on experience, but the raw ingredients are in your DNA.
When I look back on my childhood, I can remember periods of time when I felt severely depressed or abundantly excited. But then, I was only considered moody. When I recounted some of my stories for the psychiatrist who initially diagnosed me, she told me these were obvious episodes of mania or depression.
But I didn’t really come into my illness until I moved away from home. I had my first serious manic phase followed by my first serious depressive phase. I failed my freshman year of college and had to move back into my parents’ house. For the next few years, I went through several short and mild episodes. I lost friends who said that I made them uncomfortable. My boyfriends would line up to warn anyone who showed any interest in me to stay away from the crazy girl. I used cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana to self-medicate for years. It was after I quit smoking that I was finally diagnosed. I went to a psychiatrist reluctantly; because my boss told me that I needed to get help to manage my anger or I would be out of a job.
Since that time, it has been a dance of managing symptoms with medication and therapy, stopping the former to have my babies, never stopping the latter. I’m blessed with a husband who, although he can never really understand, loves and supports me through my many moods. And I’m blessed with two beautiful sons. I’m optimistic that they will never have to face the same troubles I have, but if they do, they will have the love and support of a mother who’s been there.
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  • Valerie

    Hi Therese
    I hope and pray you’re having a better day today. Thanks for sharing how your illness first began–well, I mean when it manifested itself.
    Although I have not been diagnosed with bipolar, I do wonder if there is any correlation with quitting smoking and the onset of depression/bipolar, etc manifesting itself. I wonder because I myself have quit smoking (okay, a million times but I’ll talk about the most recent) twice. About 10 years ago, I quit smoking, only to pick up drinking more heavily and become extremely depressed. Then three years ago, I quit smoking again (obviously I started in between those times!) and that is when I underwent my first hospitalization for depression and cutting.
    Hey, the good news is: I’m still smoke-free. Depressed as hell but smoke-free! ha
    Anyway, glad that you are able to find the “happy” points and positive spots in your life right now. It really helps to see you do a video with crying one day and then the next day show that even in the midst of that crying and depression, you are able to pull out positive things in your life. All part of our cognitive therapy, I’m sure.
    Hang in there. Love Valerie

  • Anonymous

    What a beautiful attitude to adopt in the face of the possibility of one of your precious sons’ developing this terrible, debilitating disease. I pray you’ll never have to put it into practice, but that’s a PERFECT example of using kife’s lemons to make lemonade! As another bipolar mother who wonders if that day will ever come to my son, you’ve given me a new perspective that I sorely needed. THANK YOU….from the depths of my soul,THANK YOU!!!

  • christy

    I also know i was born bipolar. I self medicated with the same drugs alcohol and sex as most of us did. And now I am watching my 20 year old son head down the same path. He was first diagnosed with ADD. He hated taking the meds, I thought at the time he might be saved from the addiction bug. (I of course would have loved to have been able to have those at his age) However, it didnt take long before he discovered he liked pot and alcohol, just not those prescription uppers. anyway, he is definitely his mothers son. So I ask, how do i point him in a direction so he does not have to make as many hard earned mistakes as his mother, and he gets to the place of exceptence faster and easier than I did?

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