By: Laura Sanscartier
I am 37 years old. I have battled symptoms of bipolar disorder since I was a child, and was diagnosed when I was in my early 20s. Essentially, I have endured and tried to “fix” this disease, even cure it, for 30 years.
I have gone to many, many, many doctors. I have taken thousands (maybe millions?) of pills. I have been hospitalized nearly 40 times. I have tried to take my own life twice. I have tried at least 10 non-medication treatments, including (but not limited to) ECT, TMS, naturopathic supplements, acupuncture, and chiropractic work. I constantly read books, scout websites, listen to TED talks, and search for the new “truth” about my disease. In short, I have worked my ass off regarding this “thing” that drives my every waking moment.
But after all the “why”s and the “I” statements . . . the Rx receipts and the new diets...the advice from every Tom, Dick, and Harry . . . one thing remains: I have this illness, and it isn’t going anywhere.
For a while, in my 20s, I tried to pretend that I didn’t. I felt that I must be like Chekov in “Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan”; someone had shoved some worm thing in my ear, and I was no longer “to blame” for how I acted. I wasn’t sick, the world just had it in for me. I wasn’t sick, I was just living on a different plane than everyone else.
Then in my late 20s, I saw the disease as a weight that wouldn’t lift even for a moment. I was paralyzed by symptoms and hospitalizations, and I would never be able to live my life outside of them.
Finally, now, in my late 30s, I’ve managed to develop my life in spite of, and BECAUSE of, this condition. I still expressly dislike everything about this ridiculous disease, but I’m learning to live. Bipolar disorder has taken a lot from me, and I mourn those lost things, but I am learning to accept that there is another path I’m supposed to take. I have incredible friends and an amazing husband, I have a wonderful family that hasn’t taken off even when I’m at my worst, I have a part-time job in my hometown, and I even get to write a few blog posts from time to time.
This illness is forever. It sucks, but it’s true. I’m inching closer and closer to acceptance of this fact. But I’m not going gently into that good night, Mr. Thomas. I’m going to rage rage against the dying of the light, and continue to read articles, and try new medications, and see more doctors.
Because bipolar disorder has found an Bipolar Warrior in me. That sucks for bipolar, but it’s true.