*this interviewee prefers to remain anonymous and I appreciate & support him
Please share a bit about your background. I was born in Miami, Florida to an Argentine family. I grew up mostly in Brazil and identify a lot with Brazilian culture. I went to school to get a finance degree. My career evolved from consulting to working with startups in marketing and product management in Chicago, Illinois I’m currently freelancing working on projects writing and recruiting for different agencies and companies.
How and when did you find out you were diagnosed bipolar? I never really received a diagnosis per se but I was given medication to treat this. I was told I could be on the spectrum. It all began when I was in college finishing my degree near that phase where I knew I would have to make some tough decisions. I started experiencing a very deep depression towards the end of my time there. Shortly after, I also came out to the other side extremely happy and energetic. After that, I had another down episode that started impacting my work and personal life. I went through a journey of medication treating depression. Throughout that journey, my psychiatrist suspected that because of my response to certain medications I was on she decided to give me something that was generally used to treat epilepsy and seizures which led her to prescribe me to lithium which is generally used to treat bipolar. On the other hand, during my manic episodes that lasted about 6 to 7 months I was more energetic and didn’t require too much sleep, I spoke more than usual, and was not myself. I am usually a more reserved person. Some people sway back and forth from depressive episodes to manic states. In my case they lasted about 6 months both ways.
How was it to receive the news? It was honestly devastating as the word bipolar was scary to me as it can be to other people. As I was already taking medication that didn’t work for me, I felt that this would be another try that wouldn’t work. I even considered changing psychiatrists. However, my psychiatrist firmly believed this would work and I decided to go for it and I am glad I did as two weeks into the new medication, I started feeling much better.
What has been your treatment? I am currently on lithium medication. If you are on medication, you should check in every so often with your psychiatrist. I do it every 6 months. I also see a therapist bi weekly although sometimes we meet weekly or less often depending on how life is going. I meditate as well which has been incredibly helpful. I also am on a fitness schedule, which contributes to making me better handle these feelings. In terms of side effects of the medicine, one them is that you feel dehydrated so you have to drink a lot of water and get direct sunlight. I have been on it for 5 years and I’ve reacted overall well to it.
Any plans of removing the medication? How do you feel about that? There are currently no plans to remove medication. At first, that thought was overwhelming to me as I hoped this was temporary. However, since my response has been so positive – I was able to sleep better, eat better, function better in general- I don’t really see the need to come off of it. I think if I did it would be quite the process. Since I’ve been on it for 5 years now, I’d have to slowly wean off of it and that would be scary.
Any tips or recommendations you’d give to others diagnosed bipolar? The most important thing to remember is that whatever you are feeling does not define you. It is hard to see or recognize this when you are struggling. What I suggest is that if you are diagnosed don’t be put off by the label. Many bipolar people have normal and healthy lives. I would try to avoid the label. If you do feel you can’t function it may be time to consider medication. If you can feel better without it, great. Millions of people are on medication for mental health and medication can be a great solution for the long run as well.
Any resources that you’d recommend for others struggling with mental health.
- The Power of Now
- The Noonday Demon (really heavy and I haven’t read it all the way through, but it’s very famous)
- Flow (Author: Mihaly C.)
- Insight timer
- Co-star (astrology, more fun insights about yourself and your friends)
- Zocdoc (for finding doctors/therapists)