How being bipolar changed me
I wasn’t diagnosed with Bipolar disorder until I was almost thirty. Up until then I had been a hard working perfectionist who was known and depended upon by her coworkers. I did things quickly and efficiently, I was the girl that got things done. But sadness and anger began to impede my lifestyle so much so that even my boss noticed it. I was devastated and told in no uncertain terms it was time to get help. With help came a diagnosis and medication. According to the psychiatrist I had a mood disorder and medication would get me back to normal in no time. I wanted that normal back. I had things to do. I needed to finish my credential, teach my class and continue to be girl everyone depended on. Now was not the time to change.
Alas I had been irrevocably changed and no medication would get me back down that yellow brick road. So long Kansas (I live in California, but you get it) I was living a new life now and it was so much harder than the last one. I wanted to lay in bed and sleep all the time, I had trouble remembering simple tasks (a side effect of the medication), I couldn’t hold down steady work and I had to quit my master’s program because I was taking too long to complete it. Let us not forget that I have no money to pay my bills and am courting the idea of declaring bankruptcy. And all I can say is thank God I’m not in a relationship because that is a whole other beast to tackle when you have mental illness. This was in a sense my midlife crisis. Of course, my midlife crisis came in the form of a debilitating mental illness. I would have to come to terms with the loss of my younger self. That on the go woman who had her plate full of big girl tasks. I would now have to be the new Randi. New life, new goals, new hopes to believe in. I couldn’t do everything at once anymore and it was going to take me a lot longer to do it. I of course am the person who has the most difficulty with this. I have had to stop measuring everything based on the clock. I may not get my Master’s in two years, it may take me three and that has to be okay. My new life is no longer based on a calendar but on how I feel day to day. And with my new life I have already learned a few new lessons. I have learned that I don’t have to feel bad for not being “who I once was”. I have a real illness. An illness that wants to hurt me, to get in the way of life. I have learned that I am still loved. I am still loved because I am not my illness. I have nieces and nephews and a sister that have continued to love me. And the new me has had different doors to start to open. They are headed a different direction and it will take me longer to walk through them but that doesn’t take away from how purposeful and fulfilling my life will be.