Bipolar – Accept the Diagnosis, Not the Prognosis

Last Updated: 6 Aug 2018
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You may have trouble at first accepting your bipolar disorder. However once you deal with the initial shock and learn to manage this illness, you can accomplish your goals.

Photo: Pexels.com

 

At 39 years of age I had two psychiatrists tell me I would NEVER work full time again. Can you imagine that? There I was, in the prime of my life, being told that all I had to look forward to was a lifetime of being on disability. That did not sit well for me at all. I was very, very depressed already when I received this disturbing news. I made up my mind then and there that I was going to prove them wrong. Four years earlier I had Accepted a Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder but I would Never, Ever, Ever accept the Prognosis.

That was 16 years ago. I have been working full time for over 7 years now. There were many steps I needed to take in order to achieve my goal of working full time again.

 

First of all, I had to learn to be medication compliant.

Early on, I took whatever medication that was prescribed for me regardless of how it made me feel. When I was hypo-manic I would think I didn’t needs my meds any more so I would stop taking them. That was a big no-no. I have been medication compliant for 10 years now. Once in a while it requires some tweaking but for the most part it works for me so I don’t mess with it.

 

Secondly, I sought help in the community.

I attended peer support groups at my local hospital or through CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association). These groups were the only place I felt comfortable talking about what was really going on in my head and in my life. At the same time, I met with a social worker every month for a few years.

 

Thirdly, I learned everything I could about bipolar disorder.

I accomplished this by reading books written by experts in the field or by others who had learned to manage bipolar disorder effectively. Learning from others who were a little bit further on in their recovery gave me a lot of hope. I knew that somehow, someway, someday, I would make this illness work for me and not against me.

 

In the last 10 years I have come full circle.

I am back to being that energetic, happy, carefree person that I was as a teenager before being diagnosed with depression and then bipolar disorder. I have family that care about me. I have friends to do fun activities with. I have hobbies. I am financially stable. I continue to work on becoming more physically fit now that my mental health is in order. But most of all, I have faith. Through all the ups and downs of mania and depression in the last 20 years I always relied on my faith in a higher power to get me to where I am today.

 

Like me, you may have trouble at first accepting the fact that you have bipolar disorder.  Once you deal with the initial shock it’s important that you learn how to manage this illness. Don’t let anyone else determine your destiny.

You don’t need to go this alone. Reach out and get support wherever you can get it. When depression or mania interrupt your life, keep your goals forefront in your mind. My goal was to work full time again. I have succeeded.

As of this writing I have had to modify my work schedule. I am now working from home as a Remote Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper and also as a Writer. I do Keynote Speeches as opportunities present themselves. Much like a person with a physical disability needs accommodations made for them at work, I need accommodations. Those accommodations are that I need to work from home or in a very quiet environment. I am happiest when I take small breaks during the day to enjoy my backyard and vegetable garden.

My home is where I live, work & play.

 

Lynn Rae

www.myjourneybacktomyself.ca

 

About the author
When Lynn Rae was 39 years old two psychiatrists told her that she would NEVER work full time again. She had accepted the diagnosis of bipolar disorder but would never accept the prognosis. After working part time at several different jobs between episodes of depression & mania Lynn was finally able to work full time and has been since 2009. She has now enjoyed over 10 years of good health. Lynn Rae can guide you in making those important decisions in your life surrounding Family, Friends, Fun, Fitness, Fulfillment, Finances & Faith through her Keynote “The Seven F’s to Your Fantastic Future.” She has written 3 books and self-published one of them which are available for sale on Amazon. Lynn received the Marilyn Nearing Award from York Support Services Network for the contribution she was making as a volunteer in the mental health field. Lynn Rae has her own business, GTA Office Services , in which administrative tasks are done virtually for her various clients. She makes her own home in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
40 Comments
  1. At 26, with no post-secondary education and a member of a minority religious group (with its own restrictions such as no unions, no work on Sundays), jobs are hard to come by. The challenges of Bipolar II with its crippling depression, as well as frequent migraines, make any semblance of a normal working life almost impossible.

    For the last four years I’ve worked part-time, stocking shelves at the local grocery store. The work is mindless and mundane, the environment is stressful and at times toxic. When depressed I’m physically unable to keep up to the time demands and often stay extra on my own time to get things done. I get home after a mere five or six hours of work drained and exhausted, and often end up in bed. And I’m 26!

    Ever since I started at the store I’d been searching for full-time work and still haven’t found anything suitable. Recently some of the friends and family who were pushing the most to see me in a full-time job started to question whether I would actually be able to handle it – the same thing I’d been starting to wonder myself. The psychiatrist seems unconcerned but I don’t think he actually knows the severity of my symptoms like the people who see me every day.

    I have to admit, the thought of a lifetime of living like I am now, stuck in a minimum wage job and living off the generosity of others, seems almost unbearable. I’d like to believe there’s a better prognosis, but it just doesn’t look hopeful.

  2. Thank you for this article. I too was diagnosed with depression before being diagnosed with Bipolar I during a long hospital stay in 2007. I did not accept the diagnosis – I thought they were mistaken, lol – until I landed back in the hospital 2 years ago. I haven’t worked since 1994 and I doubt I ever will (I’m 55 now). I live on a very small disability income but I make it work. I wish wish wish I didn’t have to take meds but I’m scared what would happen if I went off them. Despite med compliance I’ve never managed to become stable. Anxiety was perhaps the worst feature of my illness and meds have helped with that a lot. They allow me to function socially – something I couldn’t do before. So, I simply consider myself to be retired and I do the things I like to do. Is socializing and hobbies and a small amount of volunteering like work to me? Yes it is. It takes enormous energy for me to balance my activites or lack thereof and of course ride the waves with my moods. I too choose to remove myself from toxic people. And most important, I finally stopped worrying about what others think of my “leisurely” lifestyle. They don’t know how much effort it takes to get out of bed and brush my teeth, or making and keeping commitments are, or the toll mania takes on me and my relationships. I’ve found lately that it makes me feel better to be up front about having bipolar disorder too. I refer to myself as “a crazy lady” or that I’m “a little bit crazy”. I make light of it and then I tell the truth, that I have a mental illness. It helps put me and the other person at ease. I imposed the stigma of mental illness on myself before I started doing that. It works for me. And it’s funny… when I say something like that, it sure doesn’t shock or appall people. There are so many people out there that are diagnosed with mental illness or are close to someone that is, that they just accept me and appreciate that I am frank. Thank you again for your article.

  3. Lynn, thanks for your article. I lost my last two jobs due to depression.I had worked as a bookkeeper for about 30 years. I lost a job I was on for 10 years. It was actually a blessing to get out of that toxic environment. The owner was an alcoholic with an extremely fowl mouth. His wife would come into work very moody from having to deal with her alcoholic husband. My psychiatrist told me to leave and find another job. The only problem: I was making good money that I needed to pay the debt that I had gotten into. Debt- something that goes along with Bipolar. I ended up in a such a depressed state of mind. My psychiatrist at that time really got me messed up on a high dose of Seroquel to try and help me through the depression. I ended up in the hospital. I also ended up on disability. I got a new psychiatrist and good therapist. I have a wonderful husband. Not many men would have stuck around and went through all he has with me. He is my only support. I had my mom until she passed away. I have a broken family that’s very toxic. I realized I couldn’t work anymore stressful jobs. I would love to work from home just to give me the sense of not feeling useless. Bipolar is a terrible disease for the person living with it and the caretaker as well. Thanks for all your input.

  4. I have been bipolar since I was a child. I only received a diagnosis of bipolar when I was 43. Before that the doctors that I saw said I was depressed. When I had a full blown manic attack I was looked at differently. I have never received from any doctor information on what to expect or how to deal with my illness. I have had a few counselors who have been instrumental in helping me get my life back. Getting rid of the toxic people in my life has been a blessing and most of them have been my family members.
    I agree that reading and gathering information about our illness is so important. Until I started being involved in classes and spending time with other people also suffering I felt so alone. Sharing our experiences is therapeutic and allows us to learn what others have found helpful.
    Please could you tell me if there is a book that would be suitable to give to grown children to introduce them to what I have been suffering.

  5. you are living in a dream the so called medications that have been foisted on uninformed people cause more harm than the original issue. The long term effects on physical health alone would be cause enough to question the use of them. wake up and see that the marketing ploys of Pharma are the best thing about their drugs. It is no wonder that we are referred as “consumers” Take a look at what Robert Whittaker has uncovered about their corruption and the complicity of main stream psychiatry working hand and hand, It is about the money plain and simple. They are causing the very symptoms that they claim to cure and covering up studies that point this out. Check Out Mad in America.

    1. Bill.
      Isn’t the NFL, NHL, etc. All a business out for money? The NFL has hid for years the dangers of so many hits. Everything is a business. Everywhere you work is a business for profit. The pharmaceutical companies are no different. Take your time to find a good psychiatrist who prescribes what is right for you. I am not in a dream I know exactly what it is. I will stick with the years of research for bipolar meds and therapy with my eyes wide open. This article was so positive I enjoyed it.

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