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Unmedicated

Living with Bipolar Disorder

I still have bipolar.

But it’s nothing to be scared of!

They label you and tell you you need to be medicated forever—forever?

That takes a lot of getting used to, believe me, and I did, I believed them.

After falling for it for nine years, I realised "they" were wrong.

Medication helps, I will not deny that, and, sometimes it is necessary, but it does not necessarily need to be for the rest of your life.

After nine years, I approached a period of my life when I felt strong enough and brave enough because seriously it couldn’t get much worse – I didn’t care if I lived or died. Had nothing to lose—absolutely nothing. I was stagnant, I was middle-aged, I was alone and desperately unfulfilled—the total opposite of fulfilled—EMPTY!

As I came off the medication, I went through a roller-coaster ride, I felt like I was surfing the wave of life—from deep deep sadness, loss, grief, and distress to total and utter elation! It was fleeting at times and others lasted for days, I was reckless and scared and totally out of control at times, but I rode that fucking wave until I conquered it and am now enjoying the ride of what I call life, a happy life!

I feel things again, I go up and I go down, but it is worth it. Living in a drug-infused world was killing me. I was numb; I drank alcohol and took drugs just to cover the pain and I put on over 30 kg.  It was literally killing me physically, mentally, and emotionally.

If I died and looked back at my life (back then) I would have been so disappointed with what I was doing and where I was. I would have felt cheated and asked God for a refund!

The thing about feeling is that most times the good defeats the bad, the more good I had the more I hung onto that feeling and the more I reached out and opened up to it. I had woken up to the fact that it was there—I had felt like a zombie for such a long time—I realised I could make more of the good happen!

I made little changes; I stuck to a routine and monitored my moods. I began to be able to control the downward spiral and also the upward buzz and make ‘good’ choices. Every day I became more in control and I knew I could do anything I put my mind to.

Every day I congratulated myself for the small wins and it made me want to accomplish more. For me, having a shower every day is in itself a win; it’s good. I feel enough self-worth to clean myself, and the running water invigorates my body, and I no longer see it as a hard thing to do—once upon a time, I just couldn’t do it—the will wasn’t there, I didn’t even see the point, I was just too tired and defeated. I didn't care how I looked or smelt!

I no longer want to die. I have plans and dreams and am excited for the first time in a long long time. I now feel like there isn’t enough time left to do all the things I want to do! I only regret I didn’t realise it sooner. I literally wasted nine years of my life, nine years I will never get back, and I mourn those years—more than anything I mourn the loss of not having a child, when all my friends were having families I just wasn’t capable; I wasn’t capable of looking after myself let alone a child. That makes me sad.

I know one day I might fall off the surfboard or it will at times get rocky, but I am fit and strong mentally and will deal with that when it comes.

I never say never to any outcome or possibility and that prepares me for the unknown—I try to live day by day, making every moment count and counting my blessings. I may have lost nine years of living but am making up for the lost time and hope my story will help someone else not to fall into the trap.

Jane Smith
Jane Smith

I am a single white female approaching her 50s with bipolar disorder. Life gets too much at times and I need to write about it, especially about my feelings and secrets. However, I also have some very funny stories to tell, all true!

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