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The Beginning - My Bipolar Life

Andrea Piekarski-Susalla

Five years and five months ago I heard the word “bipolar” for the very first time.  Honestly, I did not know what it meant nor what it would come to mean to me and my life.  I learned pretty quickly that it meant I was very sick and that I was self-medicating an illness I had no idea I had and that unless I sought and accepted treatment, my life would not be as happy and productive as I had planned or dreamt it would be.  I also learned very quickly that bipolar disorder was not an “acceptable” illness to have … and soon found myself alone, deserted by my family, my friends, and my own husband … the one who had vowed to stay with me “in sickness and in health.”  This was mostly due to lack of knowledge and education on all our parts, not to mention the stigma that is attached to mental illness.  I am not here to give an excuse because I have no excuses, but when everyone you know and love deserts you … it makes it very difficult to get well or seek proper treatment.  In fact, I only got sicker.  So sick that I nearly lost my life the summer of 2009.  That was when I made the decision that this was NOT how my story was going to end.

The first thing that I had to do was to admit to myself that I was sick.  It was the biggest positive step I have ever taken in my life.  You can tell someone that they need help.  But until they tell themselves that they need help, they will not get better.  I had to learn that the hard way, but I can guarantee you it’s a lesson I will never forget.  In fact, it paves the way for better decision making … something that’s not always easy when you are in a bipolar state of mind.

Second, I had to shout a four letter word.  Shouting it from not only my mouth, but from my heart and from my soul … digging down deep until I believed that it existed.  HOPE!  I have to admit, that finding hope was harder than admitting that I was sick!  I found hope or it found me, but I can say I will NEVER let it go!

My journey to becoming well again, coping and living with bipolar, and once again becoming a successful professional business woman and most importantly an awesome mom has not been easy.  In my future posts I will share stories, lessons and tools that helped me to succeed and become well and to stay well.  Now I advocate mental health wellness and will spend my life volunteering my time to help anyone anywhere dealing with mental illness themselves or family members or friends who need hope, knowledge or anything to help them in their journey to wellness, understanding and happiness.  Hopefully, something I have to share will help someone else somewhere along their journey.  One thing I know for sure – it truly is possible to recover and live a happy meaningful productive life despite ANY illness that life throws in our path!


Until next time-

Andrea Piekarski-Susalla J


Andera im so proud of you ..and im honored to have met. such a great person ..

Thanks Theresa, I am honored to have met you as well... Our new found friendship means the world to me :)

You are an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to your posts and am hoping that your information will help many people understand what they are going through or to help family members understand the illness so they can help.

Thanks Kelly, I hope so too !

Thank you for writing this. It is an inspirational post.


Andrea, I'm glad you got through hard times in accepting that you have an illness and getting treatment for it! Even though I've been diagnosed for going on 21 years, it took me 16 years being in and out of hospitals and almost being committed to a state hospital twice to accept the help being offered. And like you, I found recovery in 2009. Andrea, it's stories like yours that give people hope! And with that being said, I look forward to future posts!

Thanks so much and I am happy you found your way to being well!

I've been diagnosed for years & lost everything save my childhood family. The Hope thing is so true, I'm getting closer. :)

It is true, hang on to hope:)

Going through a very rough time in Chattanooga, TN, Stephanie is in need of help.

The IBPF website provides many resources for help and hope!

Well done, Angela, I think the more of us that are open about the fact we have bipolar, the better. 1-2% of the population are bipolar - but I have never met another soul who admits it.

I have not met in person another soul who will admit it either .. I think that's part of the reason many people have a longer road to recovery...

Great first entry, Andrea. So proud of you for taking this opportunity to share your story & possibly help someone with similar challenges. Although I've known you for a long time, I'm looking forward to your upcoming entries & to get to know you more deeply. God bless you

Thanks Michelle, I appreciate your support and hope we can get together and talk soon ...

Dear Andrea, there is a lot of recognition in your story. When i got to hear that i had bi-polar, i was very eager in finding information about the illness. The more i got the more often i got the "a ha erlebnis". I changed my way of living step by step (also my work) and now i finnaly got one sick period in a year.
But i keep searching for more information to get the best self-control i can get for me, my wife and 2 children and fellow combatant. Keep up the good work.

Thanks George, and I wish you the best if luck yourself:)

Beautifully spoken... And you are not alone, I too struggle with bipolar disorder 1... Now that I am mom tho, it's the only thing I feel great about now a days. Being a mom keeps me going now everyday. If I wasn't a mom I don't know what I would do with my life. I really need to create a blog about my journey to now.. Because it wasn't a pretty path that is for sure to get to here. Thank you for your words and added inspiration. Best wishes, Vanessa

Thanks Vanessa, and I know the feeling ... Somedays being a Mom is all I can hang on to to get through... And it gets me through every time!

Audrey Hepburn said, "as you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and one for helping others." Similarly, I've found that as you grow older & wiser living with bipolar, you'll discover that you have two hands: one for keeping a firm grip on grounded hope and one for reaching into the darkness and helping others into the light.
#StrongerTogether #BipolarWellness #HopeXchangeTeam

Your message is very inspiring and powerful to me. Thank you, I needed to hear that....

Hi Andrea,
Thank you for sharing. I too know what it feels like to find yourself alone and deserted by friends and family after a diagnosis. It feels horrible. I know I am not alone when I read stories like yours, thank you for sharing.

And thank you for helping me to know that I am not the only one who has felt those feelings.... Especially when someone recently told me after this was posted that I was wrong ... They weren't in my shoes, they didnt feel what I felt ... That feeling nearly took my life, so I can guarantee you that I felt it! Thanks for sharing.

Thank u for sharing ur inspiring and hopeful experience..myself I have been diagnosed bipolar in 2012 after suffering for a year with symptoms I have never felt I admit im better..but still suffer the 1 week low energy and self esteem going on..despite being treated..can you advice?

Keep it real with your doctor and make sure you tell them everything how you feel and for how long. It took two and a half years for the doctors to get my treatment right ....

Thank you for giving me and ppl like us hope and support..a small question from someone diagnosed bipolar since 2002..does the depression / mania state disappear or do they still exist but less than b4 when u find urself getting better? And how can we work on ourselves to stay on the same mood level?

Personally for myself, I just kept going to the doctor, researching my illness and ways to cope with the highs and the lows and even when feeling better~never stop treatment ...

Dear Andrea,
As a Father to our 29 year old daughter who was first diagnosed with bi polar almost 6 years ago, hearing the word hope from your lips gives us some much need "hope" to us as, well as, our daughter. Unfortunately she has yet to accept the illness, so we still have a long way to go.

Please do keep up the great work you are doing and know we are sending our love and support to you.

All the best
Steven Kimmel

Thanks so much Steven~ I have to say your message has touched me deeply...don't give up on her, just never give up hope and never give up on her .. I wish the best to you and your family.

I too have bipolar and am only just starting to figure out how to deal with what is involved....
It took a long time (years) to be diagnosed correctly but during that time I had been left behind by family and friends because I was "too hard" to deal with... I lost my fiancé because I was in another world and quit my band that I had always wanted and still don't know why....
Hope is something I think I need, but can't seem too find it...
Any information you share will be of great help.

I found this site today and have not been able to quit reading through the posts and journeys, thanks for this blog it's so good to finally find something that can explain us.

How do you get every day with hope...I need help

Hi Jan,

If you need help finding treatment or support resources, email and we can connect you to what we know of in your area. 

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