There are probably a variety of emotions one can experience when they first learn of their diagnosis of bipolar. They can range from confusion to anger, frustration to relief. It’s likely you’re going to experience those and in multiples. I wouldn’t say my revelation that I had bipolar was a lightning bolt to the brain – my brain was already fried as it was. However, someone who’s realizing they have problems and can finally give them a label and categorize their bipolar behaviors are going to find it a relief to know that it is something identifiable. You can’t go about your life being blind to the fact that you’re diabetic, have a broken bone or suffer from a chronic illness, and expect to get a leg up on it.
So here are a few points to consider when you’ve just found out that you have bipolar disorder:
- The first step to thriving with mental illness is to accept it. No doubt you can refuse the diagnosis or claim it’s probably not so because you can’t see it. I would say, don’t be a fool, and accept you have it. Tough, yes, but worth it? Totally. I’d say having a bipolar diagnosis is a blessing. To start treating it, you have that much of the battle won.
- Secondly, immediately look for treatment. Find a doctor – a psychiatrist – who’s in your insurance network. If you have poor insurance or no insurance, go with someone on a sliding scale. This is crucial to your recovery and healing process. This is someone who ideally will have years of experience in treating your demographic – whether you’re a child, teenager, young adult or adult.
- Thirdly, see a therapist. There’s no substitution for medication, but equally as true is there is no substitution for good talk therapy. I recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, because it’s worked for me, but explore your options and see what therapies those counselors available to you practice. I once tried EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). It worked almost too well and I think it may have contributed to kicking up a little dust in the pursuit to closure on certain issues in my life. Research for yourself.
- Lastly, be honest with yourself and others. At some point, you may wonder whether you should share it with others. Until you are comfortable with the diagnosis and realize you don’t need to share it everywhere you go (like I used to), it can definitely be comforting to know that others will admit they or someone they know have it and that your openness is a risk that you take. Those who know you will hopefully understand and find it within themselves to learn more and support your treatment. Those who don’t know or care, don’t let it worry you. You can be a strong testimony to the healthy mind you can have if you treat this condition the right way, following the above steps. Also, sharing with those you were behaving with those symptoms around may help them understand it’s the disorder, and not you, that cause them.