I can’t speak for everyone, but right before I was diagnosed with bipolar and the weeks and months after, there was A LOT of chaos. When I talk about chaos, I talk not just with me, but with my friends and family too. One minute, there I was, sitting in my office Bates stamping documents for a document production for one of the cases I was working on, the next, I was in the psych ward at a nearby hospital because I checked my suicidal self in, the next, I was attending a 5 day a week 9am-3pm outpatient therapy group with about 30 strangers, on a whole list of medications, and everyone I knew and cared about around me were completely different.
I mean, let’s face it, did I honestly think that after being released from a psych facility that everything was going to go immediately back to normal? On one hand, yes, I did. On the other, I honestly thought things would actually improve because there was actually finally a name for what it was that was going on with me! FINALLY!!! I could begin to put together the pieces as to why I acted a certain way, or responded a certain way or said or felt certain things. There was a diagnosis, which meant a cure right?
Boy was I ever wrong.
I thought that not understanding what was going on inside of me was distressing, little did I know that what was to follow my decision to walk through the door to that psych ward was going to be even more confusing, stressful, hurtful, chaotic, and just a bigger mess than before I walked in.
I had my employer (a prominent U.S. and international law firm) leaving me ranting messages on my voicemail telling me I was not in the hospital and I needed to call her or report to the office immediately. (Despite the calls the hospital made saying I was, in fact, a patient there) There were so many rumors spread around the workplace so when I did return a few months later, I lasted a whole 3 HALF day shifts before I broke down because of all the stares and whispers outside my office door and the peering into my office through the glass panes on the doors.
Panic, Fear, Blame
Then there was the panic from family members who were scared because nobody really knew what bipolar was (myself included) and they had never been to a psych facility before. After being a patient in one, I can understand how frightening it would be to see your child (adult child to be more exact) in that type of setting.
There were the people who wanted to place the blame on my significant other. They claimed “he” did this to me and it was his fault. Then there were the people who just vanished all together. Oh, and let’s not forget my favorite ones, the ones who “claimed” they were there for you and understood but behind your back made it very clear they wanted nothing to do with you because all you are is “crazy” and just “drama.”
But, there were a handful of people who still stuck beside me. I had family and friends, despite being scared of the unknown, they were still there. They learned with me. They didn’t always understand, but they tried. I didn’t make it so easy for them either though. I was still learning myself.
I made a lot of mistakes. A LOT. I will never deny that. However, did try to learn from them. It didn’t always happen right away, but eventually I learned. And boy did I apologize. I was so grateful for every single person who gave me a second chance that I always said that I would always do the same for others because without the second chances others gave me, I wouldn’t have a lot of the people who are in my life today.
This all didn’t happen overnight though. This took months and months of therapy, medication changes, and the help, support , and encouragement of others.
There is one more thing. This “thing” is what took so long for things to start settling down and start falling into place.
I had to accept that I had bipolar disorder and the only way my life was ever going to resemble ANYTHING close to a somewhat stable/similar to what it was before life, was if I accepted that I needed to make adjustments to not just my medications and frequency of doctors visits, but I had to make changes to my lifestyle, my eating and sleeping habits, my weekend drinking with friends habits, etc. I had to be all in, and accept it all, or it would never be any different.
I had spent so many months trying to “work the system” and prove to my therapy team that I didn’t need to change any of that and I would be just fine. Unfortunately, all it did was continue the chaos for all my friends and family, basically everyone around me.
When I finally chose to accept the whole package, I found stability. I went back to working full time, was running websites, and for once in I can’t even remember when, I was stable.
Stability doesn’t come immediately. There is no quick fix, no magic med combo, it takes time, lots of love and support, and it takes a lot of work on your own part. It’s not neat and clear cut. You will try many different medications before you get the right one. You may not always be pleasant to be around and let’s not forget that our friends and family have their threshold to, especially if they don’t understand the illness.
Until then, it’s the “WTF IS HAPPENING” phase…. FOR EVERYONE!!!!!!