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I Was Diagnosed with Bipolar: Now What?

Shandi-lee {pieces}

Being diagnosed with a disorder as mysterious and stigmatized as bipolar can be scary and even devastating.

I was psychotic the day I was diagnosed. I was in the hospital, and I never saw the psychiatrist again. I didn’t have the capacity to really let the words sink in.

It was after I got home that I realized the impact of my diagnosis.

Mental illness is prevalent in my family, so we had a body of resources that came from experience.

However, many people that are diagnosed don’t know where to go for help and support, and, in some cases, they are completely alone in their confusion and struggle.

I have written Vol. 1 of this guide with the help of Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance’s education materials on being newly diagnosed with a mood disorder.

This is one article of a series about this topic.

I was still extremely confused, even with more resources than most people have. I still am. I can only imagine what others with a less fortunate experience than mine are going through.

This is why I write and pass on as much information as I can.

Please pass this along to others!

You Are Not Alone

Mood disorders affect 20 million Americans. If you have just been diagnosed, trust that you are not alone.

You are not crazy, flawed, or weak. Mood disorders are treatable and anyone can develop them.

The best thing you can do for yourself is learn as much as you can about your illness.

What Happened?

It’s not your fault. Mood disorders are illnesses of the brain. Although researchers are still trying to understand how they work, we suspect that a chemical imbalance plays a role. These illnesses also run in families.

It’s important to remember that you can live a normal life. Think of your illness like diabetes or heart disease.

Can someone with one of those disorders just “snap out of it”? No one would think twice for getting medical attention for a physical illness, and the same should go for a mental illness.

What Now?

You’ll be seeing a health care provider. In many cases, you’ll start therapy and see a medical doctor that can provide medication.

For Therapy You Might See:

  • A psychiatrist
  • A psychologist
  • A licensed therapist
  • A social worker
  • Other professional

For Medication Management You Might See:

  • A psychiatrist
  • A general practitioner
  • A nurse practitioner

If you have more than one person caring for you, you may choose to have them interact with each other to provide a more holistic form of care.

Why Should I Bother With Psychotherapy?

Good question. You might need help with unhealthy relationships, negative thinking, or harmful lifestyle choices. Having someone to talk to about these and other issues can be helpful.

When choosing a therapist, make sure you:

  • Feel comfortable with them
  • Trust their judgment

The goal of therapy is to develop skills and behaviors, which will help you cope with stressful situations and become aware of and prevent depression and/or mania.

Do I Have to Take Medication?

You will need to discuss this with your doctor. It is a choice only you and your medical professional can make. Common worries are that medications will be addictive or change one’s personality. Neither of these fears is supported.

Medication will be prescribed to keep your moods stable and to keep your mania or depression from getting out of control.

Some people feel that they wouldn’t be able to live without medication. Others prefer to do without it.

More to Come on Being Newly Diagnosed

There is more to come in future posts about being newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Are you newly diagnosed? If not, what was it like when you were first diagnosed with bipolar or depression? Did you know where to get resources? If not, who helped you out? What do you think would have happened if you didn’t get that support? 


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Photo Credit: Shandi-lee Cox via Compfight

I Was Diagnosed with Bipolar: Now What?

Kat Dawkins

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APA Reference
Dawkins, K. (2013). I Was Diagnosed with Bipolar: Now What?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 May 2013
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