When a mental health professional first mentions the word ‘bipolar’ in relation to your symptoms it can be a very scary time. It can feel overwhelming and it is definitely a journey. A few things to remember when this happens from my experience are below.
1. It’s life long but it doesn’t mean your life is ruined
One of the first things that hit me when I was first going through the process of realizing I had Bipolar Disorder, was that this is a life long disorder. It’s not something that can be cured or that will go away, and this can be a very scary realization and is something that takes time to come to terms with. It’s important to know that it doesn’t mean your life is over, it can’t be cured but it can be treated. You can still thrive and live a life that will make you happy once you get the help you need and you learn how to manage your symptoms more effectively.
2. Finding the right treatment for you is a process
There isn’t a magic pill that your psychiatrist will just be able to give you to just make the symptoms go away, finding the right treatment that works for you and learning how to process your problems and how to manage your symptoms, whether this be a form of therapy or medication or both, is a process but is worth doing as you will be able to find something that works in the best way possible for you.
3. It’s ok to feel upset and overwhelmed
This is a scary thing to have to deal with and come to terms with, it’s completely valid to feel upset and overwhelmed and to take your time to get your head around what is happening. Everyone is different and their journey with it will be different; don’t put too much pressure on yourself to feel or act a certain way.
4. There is support out there from others going through the same
Something that took me a while to find out is that there is wonderful support out there from other people who really get what you are going through because they have experienced it themselves. There are support groups in person and online, and there are great people on social media that you can connect with who will share your experiences.
5. Don’t be afraid to do your own research
When you get a diagnosis I feel it’s important to do your own research, it can really help you understand your disorder much more, helping you to be more educated and self-aware, and allowing you to figure out your own path and advocate for yourself with mental health professionals.
6. It doesn’t mean you can’t reach your goals
This disorder can be really tough to live with, it can definitely make things harder but it doesn’t mean you can’t reach your goals. Sometimes it may take longer and you may have to work around more challenges to get where you want to be, perhaps your goals might not even look the way you pictured them, but you will be able to achieve what you want and to find a life that works for you.
7. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling
It’s important to feel able to talk about how you are feeling, whether this is to family, friends, or others who have gone through the same so that you don’t feel isolated or alone. This can really help you to process things and not to internalise any worries or concerns.
8. Those around you need to process too
It can be difficult for family and friends when you are first diagnosed to process this too, they will take their own time to come to terms with what is happening and to find ways to support you. Remember that you are what is most important during this time, and although it’s important to give them time to process, don’t put yourself on the backburner or feel you have to act a certain way to make things easier for those around you. This is your disorder and your experience.
9. A ‘working’ diagnosis doesn’t make your disorder any less valid
It can take years to be ‘officially’ diagnosed after the word ‘bipolar’ is mentioned in regards to your symptoms. This is just the process that the professionals go through to make completely sure that they are certain of the label they are giving you. A ‘working’ diagnosis doesn’t mean that your disorder or symptoms are any less valid.
10. It doesn’t change who you are
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by labels but it’s so important to remember that they are just words on a piece of paper. At the end of the day, this is just a name to the symptoms that you’ve been experiencing. It’s a way to understand what you are going through and to get the right help for it. It doesn’t change who you are as a person, it doesn’t make you any different than you were before.