How To Live With The Reality Of Having Bipolar Disorder

Last Updated: 25 Jul 2019

I have changed. My management ability has changed. I am alive and often have great happiness in my life. It’s a fight for me. A fight I will win.

“Well, that’s just how it is.” My mind said this to me as I sat down and worked this morning. I’ve not been able to just sit down and work for almost two months. If I have work that involves other people, I can do it just fine. But to sit down by myself and work? That is… rough. Especially as my favorite work in the world is writing. 

As we get older with bipolar, our brain ages with us. If we get a concussion, experience a stressful event or realize that our offspring has bipolar as well, this changes us. It changes our brain. Having a plan for what bipolar does to our lives in essential. If you’re young- you have a lot of time to get things right! You can learn from my mistakes! 

If you have bipolar disorder, start now to prepare for a life that you can handle. Make changes now that cushion you from the reality of the illness:

  • Get help with money now.
  • Learn to be a good friend as you will need friends when you get sick.
  • Read books that teach you how to manage the illness. Create a plan that you use daily.
  • Join a support program.

Do what it takes. It’s time to see bipolar as a serious mental illness. It’s not a simple problem. It’s a big brain issue. 

We can find a life that works for us- but it requires being real with ourselves about the bipolar.

When I sat down today and started working, I thought, “I can’t believe this! So much struggle for so many months and today I just sit down! This is ridiculous! I hate it! It’s not fair! I just want to get my work to the world! I don’t want this life! Others get to work as much as they want and they complain about it too! I am stifled! I am disabled by this damn illness! I hate it!”

Then, my brain said, “Well, that is just how it is.” 

True. Nothing has changed in my brain since my first psychosis at 16, first euphoric hypomania at 17, first dysphoric mania at 18, first suicidal depression at 19 and then the beginning of ultradian (daily) rapid cycling at age 21. 

My brain is the same brain. It’s an illness.  Just like diabetes. 

Luckily, I have changed. My management ability has changed. I am alive and have great happiness in my life. It’s a fight for me. A fight I will win. 

Today, I am thankful I can work like a regular person. 

What is your plan? 

What is next for you? 

How can you Treat Bipolar First and create a life that is built on the reality that you, like myself! have bipolar? 


About the author
Julie A. Fast is the author of "Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder," "Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder," "Get it Done When You’re Depressed" and "The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder." She is a columnist and blogger for BP Magazine and won the Mental Health America journalism award for the best mental health column in the US. Julie was also the recipient of the Eli Lily Reintegration award for her work in bipolar disorder advocacy. Julie is a bipolar disorder expert for the Dr.Oz and Oprah created site ShareCare. Julie is CEU certified and regularly trains health care professionals including psychiatric residents, social workers, therapists and general practitioners on bipolar disorder management skills. She was the original consultant for Claire Danes for the show Homeland and is on the mental health expert registry for People Magazine. She works as a coach for parents and partners of people with bipolar disorder. Julie is currently writing a book for children called "Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Psychosis and Depression." You can find more about her work at and
  1. Hello Cindy, What a shock for you! Maybe in time having this ‘new’ diagnosis will become a relief. I see that you have found this website, have been reading and researching. You are beginning your ‘journey’ with Bipolar. There is a difference between BP 1 and 2, and variations within each of these. I found for myself in the beginning that keeping a very close mood chart 4 times a day with many many variables to review including e.g. irritiability, feeling stressed, having energy, feeling happy, feeling restless, not sleeping well, not having good motivation, really helped me get a handle on things. BP is not just a ‘mood’ disorder but rather, as my Pscyhiatrist says, an ‘energy’ problem and also, a ‘physical’ problem e.g. when I am in the depressive phase I have joint aches and become constipated, which makes sense if one’s whole body is slowing down, directed as it is by a slowing brain.

    During my depressions for a long time I had little insight except for saying “what’s wrong with me” until I began to realise that I would ask that WHEN I was depressed!! When I would come out of an episode, I would always thing I was cured as I felt well – until the energy shifted up again and I would have to deal with too much energy and being ‘buzzy’.

    Clearly you haven’t had a mental health practitioner who is very communicative!!!!! I wonder why your BP has never been discussed with you? Is it time to change practitioner? I so hope you get some relief from your Depression. All the very best and thank you for sharing.

  2. I want to make a plan. I can see I really need a plan. I found a diagnosis of Bipolar one with mixed symptoms listed in my on line health program recently. I had just visited my Psychiatrist and asked for a change in my antidepressants because after several years of the same ones I was extremely depressed. He added what he called a mood stabilizing drug. I went home and after checking in on my online after visit summery I was totally shocked to see the diagnosis he had listed. I am 61 years old and have had depression for the past thirty years. I have seen several therapists over that time and no one has ever suggested that I may be bi polar. I asked him if it was a correct diagnosis and he said yes. It’s been a couple months since then and I am so perplexed about this. Millions of questions.I have read several books,, articles,blogs and medical sites about this illness. I have had years and years of depression, anxiety, and in recent years angry outbursts towards my husband and myself. Some parts of this make sense. But I don’t have suicide attempts,hospital stays or any psychosis. Can you be bipolar one without those? I know I have a lot to learn about this and I want to understand it. I just don’t understand how a Doctor who I have seen for ten years missed mentioning what he thought my diagnosis was. I’m really scared, confused,and more depressed than ever. I have only talked to my husband about this and thank God he is understanding,but he really can’t help me much. I’m wondering how I could have gone this long without a clue? Who am I. By the way I did my own research on the drug he gave me and sure enough the anti seizure drug he gave me is also used for bipolar. It’s called ox arbazepin. I am also on Cymbalta. My depression is no better, in fact it’s worse. Is this an unusual way to get a diagnosis. Any suggestions on how best to get reliable info are appreciated.Thanks

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