I have bipolar disorder, which is a severe, incurable mental illness. It’s biologically driven, and is the result of a natural imbalance in brain chemicals – it is not curable through therapy, though it can be managed by taking psychiatric medications. (It is also genetic, which is one of the reasons I chose not to have children.)
I’m lucky to be alive. While I’ve had bipolar disorder since my early teens, I wasn’t correctly diagnosed and treated until I was 34. Bipolar depression has almost killed me twice. I was saved through modern medicine, good friends who watched out for me, and quite a bit of luck. About 20% of people with bipolar disorder aren’t so lucky, and commit suicide to end the agonizing mental pain.
Today I’m living a more-or-less normal life through the magic of modern medicine. Psychiatric medications keep my mood stable, and I check with my doctor every three months to make sure things stay good.
Because mental illness is still poorly understood and stigmatized in our society, I often tell my story to help put a face on mental illness – to help people recognize that people with mental illness aren’t lazy, violent, or wacked-out weirdos. I hope you’ll read and share my story.
Here are a collection of essays about living with mental illness.