What I get out of this e-mail community is an education from others who are like me (bipolar) on my disease. Coming from them who have been to hell and back, I really pay attention. They know what they're talking about. Since coming here, I have taken responsibility for my part in working closely with my pdoc re medication. I've had it changed 3 times and now for the last few months I've been stable like I never remember it before. And i was diagnosed 19 years ago. I had a lot of denial about the power of this disease. I wanted to act like it wasn't happening, that I could ignore it (yeah, right), that I could get away without taking meds. This did not work, surprise, surprise! I have found friends to share my life with, ups and downs, and to laugh and joke with. We are there for each other during the bad times too. This group is great.
Bipolar disorder has to be one of the must frustrating things I have ever faced. Maybe that is why I spend so much time at my computer writing to others who have the same problems. I help them by telling them what has helped me. You know though, now that I think of it, I even put on that happy face with my email friends! I can't remember the last time I wrote and asked for help with what I am going through. I don't know if I ever have!
I do, however, get happiness from helping others. That is probably the one thing that really gives me any true happiness. Maybe that's why I chose psychology as a major. I want to work with people. I want to make others happy, and in the process, maybe I can find an inner peace with myself. I hope someday I can do that.
What follows is just one example of the kind of quality advice to be found in online self-help groups.
Sandy offers advice to a fellow sufferer who is beating herself up over what other people are saying about her and about her own notions of what she *ought* to do.
I spent a year and a half trying to get my meds right and work at the same time. Stress is a major factor in our disorder! My pdoc finally put me on sick leave (3 months) to find the proper med program for me and plans to make adjustments now as the stress factor enters. I think it was a good move, and feel I am better able to cope.
...and let's take "shoulds" out of our vocabulary! It really isn't a healthy choice of words for us BPs. It is important that you discover what is best for you and what is going to help you get on a steady track---pursue that. We cannot control what others think or say about us---eg been out drinking etc.....but we can control how we react to it. I have chosen to face that enemy head on. (this was the best choice for me, but perhaps not for everyone) My friends, family and coworkers know about my illness. I have given them as much information as possible about it and have left it up to them to choose to read it or not. In many cases, it has helped those around me understand me better--and in some cases was a waste---BUT that is their problem, not mine! I found that trying to understand and deal with my illness was all that I could handle and that I cannot handle forcing others to understand it and deal with it. To those friends who have chosen to try and understand, I welcome their "loving" input (helping me see if I am getting too manic or depressed) since much of the time we BPs cannot truly see how we are acting). I still struggle, but I believe that is just part of the illness and it will never go away---but we can continually search for new and better copiing tools.
Quote: The bipolar condition is the most important defining aspect of our species. Without bipolars, those who dare to dream, both scientists and artists, this world would not have survived the paranoia, genocide and war that are the second most defining aspects of our species. Other humans are now limited in their bipolarity to their daily waking and sleeping cycles. We are able to cycle, with the right discipline, at will.
Long live bipolarity. However, the stigma attached to it can take a flying leap.
Jeff K. - 22/9/97