My first diagnosis was bipolar with psychotic features. That diagnosis stuck for at least ten years. During the first five years that I was trying to learn to live with a mental illness, I went on and off medication frequently.
It was as if I really didn’t believe I was mentally ill, or I didn’t know that it was a disease I would have for the rest of my life, or I thought I was invincible, or I would start feeling better and go off. I’m not sure why I wasn’t compliant with my medication, but I certainly was not.
The on again off again of treatment was disastrous to my stability. I couldn’t do anything long term, because I would end up psychotic. The really troubling thing about this is that each psychotic episode got progressively worse, took longer to recover from, and left me with the possibility of not fully recovering. Also, the things I would do during a psychotic episode left my self-esteem and confidence in myself shattered.
Playing with medication, playing with psychosis is a dangerous game of roulette that I played until something big changed in my life.
I didn’t start taking my medication and my mental health seriously until I had something big to lose, something that would change my life to lose; something I cherished, hoped on, loved, and wanted more than anything else.
I met my husband, and not only did I love him passionately, he was accepting of my mental illness.
I wanted to get better for him. I wanted to get better for us. One psychotic episode nearly ended our relationship and I didn’t want that to happen ever again.
It is Mental Health Awareness Month and if I had to give one piece of advice to newly diagnosed people it would be, find a doctor and a medication that work for you and stick to it.
Get over the fact that you have a mental illness, and get back to really living your life. Be stable. Find friends. Find joy. Find happiness. Don’t get all tangled up in a cycle of crisis that runs and ruins your chances of success in relationships and your career.
A mental illness isn’t the end of all that is good. If you had diabetes you would live with your treatment and go on. Look at your mental illness as a chronic illness, one you should take care of, and get busy enjoying and experiencing the rest of what can be your beautiful, successful and amazing life.
*Note: I am aware that people (me included) can experience symptoms even while doing everything right in regards to their treatment. A good treatment team can help with this significantly.