from Kimberly Bailey
A consulting physician, whom you've never met, just called from the institution in which your husband is hospitalized. In a rushed, brusque manner, he informed you that your hubby has Bipolar Disorder ...
At age 10, your daughter was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and now, as a defiant sixteen-year-old, she refuses to take her medication ...
Some time ago you had an unbelievable conversation with your doctor in which she emphasized the fact you have a life-long, incurable but very treatable illness known as Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression. You really didn't believe her and until just recently, you had been perfectly fine. Now you stand on the brink of another crisis ...
You've just hung up the phone after a very tearful conversation with your mother in which she shared that your uncle, who has Bipolar Disorder, just committed suicide ...
And so you now feel as if you've been knocked flat, and regardless of the circumstances which brought you here, you are searching for information, encouragement, support or perhaps the simple knowledge you are not alone in the war with this mental illness. And so, as a battle-scarred veteran I would like to share a word of sage advice passed to me from others in these trenches.
But first ... here, take my hand. Let me help you off the floor. There you go ... brush yourself off, sit down in a comfy chair and now take a deep breath.
You will get through this! You will survive if you learn and apply one simple premise: Take care of yourself! Yes, I am advocating a bit of well-deserved selfishness! Whether you are the one struggling with the illness, the caregiver, the significant other, the sibling, the parent, the friend - you must take care of yourself. Ever wonder why airline attendants always advise adults to place the oxygen masks on themselves before their children? Simple - an adult who has succumbed to oxygen deprivation is of no help to the child. So grab that oxygen mask and breathe deeply! Now as you focus on rebuilding your self-esteem ... your emotions ... your very life, take some personal time to expand your education and establish a personal support system.
In my opinion, education is our first line of defense. It is an excellent weapon against the anxiety which can so easily overwhelm. My personal motto is "read anything and everything on which I can get my hands!" There are many wonderful fiction, nonfiction and biographical books available. (Take a look at our Book List for some great ideas.)
One of the most exasperating aspects of this illness, and perhaps any chronic illness, is the fact that no matter how prepared you may be, an unforeseen crisis is inevitable. It is so very important for your well-being to have a support system in place for when this happens and even for day-to-day encouragement. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill can be reached through their website as well as through their Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance supports chapters in cities and towns across The United States. They also offer a Hopeline at 1-800-442-4673. And don't forget to take a look at our extensive Links Libraries on several Support topics.
Another incredible resource I use extensively is listserv support groups. Members of the lists offer encouragement, advice and support via email. Pendulum has quite a few years' experience in offering this service to those affected by Bipolar Disorder. BPSO offers this service to the significant others of Bipolars. We have others listed in our Bipolar Support by Email Links Library.
In closing, I would simply like to say, "Never give up!" Keep moving forward if only at a crawl. Take care of yourself. Arm yourself through education and a support system. Never give up!
Be nice to me, I have powers and Andrew no longer compensates me with shoes!!
Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.--Eleanor Roosevelt
I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters. --Frank Lloyd Wright
Everything I write is fully substantiated by my personal opinion.
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