The Grieving Process of My Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

After my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, it took me many years before I fully accepted I had this life-changing mental illness.

The first step in any recovery is acceptance. I realized I had to accept the truth of the reality of my illness before I could be ready to seek the necessary treatments to start the recovery process. I had to be ready to fight and heal my pain and internal mental scars.

I wish my acceptance of bipolar disorder would have been automatic and not taken so many years because then I think my life could have improved sooner.

To begin to accept my bipolar disorder I had to go through a grieving process, which took me a long time. It was a painful process and journey for me.

1. Denial  I do not have bipolar disorder. I do not have a mental illness. You are wrong. I do not want this. I can still teach and do everything I used to do. I am the same good person. I am a great person so I cannot have this illness.

2. Anger – When I was first diagnosed, I was very ill from the side effects of the medications they were giving me and other reasons as well. I did not understand what was happening to me. This caused me to have a lot of anger. I blamed everyone around me and basically hated everyone, especially if they tried to help me. I was not a good patient at all, and I tried to fight everything they said and did to me when they tried to help me. I lashed out at others and made people feel bad. I have guilt for some of my past behaviors when I was first diagnosed, as I acted horribly. I felt like a horrible person at the time of my initial diagnosis. Ugh! My anger was very painful and intense.

3. Bargaining – Why me? If I stop taking all of my medications I will be “normal” again and I will be fine. I will show everyone they are wrong. If I stop taking my medications and stay away from all medical care, psychiatrists and hospitals and go back to my life the way it was before, everything will be OK. I will show everyone I am fine.

Going off all my medications was a bad idea because after a couple of years of not taking my medications and not receiving any help or support I had a full blown manic episode which lasted about a year. Because my episode caused me to become so severely ill I had to receive medical help again and have continued it ever since.

4. Depression – I realized the true magnitude of the loss of myself and loss of my life the way it once was. Everything changed for me. My old life was permanently gone with bits and pieces still hanging on but not many. I had no more control in my life. People were telling me how to live and who I had become. One doctor told me I would never be the same again but they could get me to live a functional life. What? That sounded like a death sentence to me, and it was like a death sentence for many years, as I tried to end my life many times. My life was put into a survival mode with doctors and professionals basically just trying to save me. I was not living, but I was trying to find a new way to survive for years. I thought: I am sick. My mental pain is horrific. They give me medication that gives me severe side effects and adverse reactions that I do not like and that change my personality. I have no friends, and I am so lonely. No one likes me or even wants to be around me. I am worthless. The old me is gone and died. I cannot function, move or even get out of bed. I can’t live like this anymore. My life is over. No one will even care if I am gone. I am all ready dead. I want to die.

5. Acceptance – Acceptance is the last stage of grief and the most vital and important step on the road to recovery of my bipolar disorder. The acceptance of my illness and my new life was a slow and gradual process. Things slowly started to improve and look better over time. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness, but I saw glimpses of hope and of what happiness was again. I accepted that things will never be exactly the same again. I gradually started to adjust to my diagnosis, and my changed life. My depression began to decrease in spurts but would come back periodically and ferociously at times. I began to figure out how to live with my symptoms and start living my life again. My mind started to work better, and I began to feel more normal and a part of life again. I soon began the important process and one of the most essential parts of my new life of redefining who I was.

I had to find my new identity and learn to like myself again and eventually love parts of the new me. I found a way to work part-time again in a field that suits me well by helping others in the home health field and I started going back to church. I started getting out of the house more and around other people.

I do have bipolar disorder. I do have a mental illness, and that is OK. I have a new identity and that is OK. I am still a good person. I believe God saved my life and I became born again. I am still the same person I always was but now I am a better, stronger, wiser and kinder version of  myself.

My greatest blessing is that I have always been and am still a good mom. My children were always my life support and still are. I love my three beautiful, amazing and wonderful children beyond words. I am so blessed to be able to be their Mommy. Thank you, God.

Sometimes I still grieve parts of the “old” me and think about what my life could have been. I try to block those moments of memories of my past out of my head, as the past is the past, and I try very hard not to live there. I try to live in this very minute and moment one day at a time.

I never thought I would have a mental illness, but I do and I must strive to make the best of my illness and always strive to be the best person I can be and become. It is a never-ending battle of struggles, growth and discovery and acceptance of the new me every day.

I have found joy in the experience of living.

~written by Susan Walz

“Don’t wait. Make memories. Celebrate your life.” — unknown

Copyright © 2018 Susan Walz | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights reserved

 

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11 Comments

    1. Thank you for reading and for your feedback. I am sorry you are struggling with acceptance too. Unfortunately it took me a long time to finally accept it as well. It is a hard concept to accept but the light bulb went off when I finally accepted it. I realized it was so much better to tackle it head on instead of pretending it wasn’t true. It helped me not be so ashamed. There is nothing to be ashamed of and it is the reality of my life. It is how God wrote the script for my life and I cannot argue or be upset with God. So I learned I had to embrace my life and myself… somehow. I am still working on the embracing and loving myself part everyday. I am a work in progress every day. I have learned so many valuable life lessons because I have lived and survived so much. That is the benefit of living with a mental illness and other chronic illnesses. We have learned to be strong and persevere. I hope you are well. Have a happy, healthy and fabulous day. Hugs, Sue

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I’m so sorry for reading this so late. I never realized you went through the mental battle of acceptance too. This post touched me in many ways. I really thought my life was completely over with when I learned about my bipolar and the extra mental illnesses I had. I kept thinking to myself of all the lousy things my ex would say to me, “You’re a crazy, evil bitch.” was just one, and I started believing him. It wasn’t until I was in a program through my mental health facility did I realize I wasn’t crazy, nor evil.
    Every day is still a work in progress, and I know I’m a good person just like yourself. Heck, you’re an absolute doll for helping so many others out with their mental illnesses by way of advocating and doing the interviews. You’re like a mental health superhero! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My ex and his new wife said those kind of things to me as well. It was awful I am sorry it happened to you too. I think if we had a different illness they wouldn’t blame us and call his us names because of it. They maybe would have a been a tad bit kinder to us. Maybe…hahaha… Thank you for your kind words. You are very funny. I am not even close to a superhero but I sure appreciate your kind and uplifting words. You always make me feel so good. I love you for that. You are amazing. I think it is because of the horrific mental illness stigma that made it even more difficult for me to accept my bipolar and other mental illness diagnoses. My inability to accept my illness delayed my recovery and interfered with the quality of my life for many years. Forgiving myself for my behaviors and mistakes I made along my journey was probably the hardest part for me. It has been a struggle but I am doing well now. Praise God. I am happy you are doing better as well. Much love and hugs my friend.

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  2. Aaaah acceptance. We get there eventually. 🙂
    My daughter struggles with acceptance. A psychotic episode turned her life upside down and it’s taking her a long time to recover. I must admit that she is doing much better, but she still has a long way to go. I am bipolar as well, but I had no problem accepting my diagnosis. After struggling all my life, I have finally found some relief. I just hate that I passed this on to my child. Well, it is what it is, and life goes on.
    Blessings!

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    1. You have a great attitude. I’m happy you accepted your diagnosis right away. I sure wish I did. My life would have been easier and better sooner. I’m sorry your daughter has bipolar. That must be difficult. I’m happy she is doing better. I’m sure it helps to have a suportive and wise mom like yourself. I have 3 children and I’m praying they will not get it. So far so good but you never know. My daughter’s are 26 and 18 and my son is 24. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed and lots of prayers. Thanks for reading and for your great feedback. Have a happy, healthy and blessed day and weekend. Hugs, Sue 😊💐🌻

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I stayed in denial a long time. The second relapse gave me no doubt! Doesn’t help the prognosis of the disease but this time I’m more aware to fight it. Thanks for sharing betterbipolar.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome. I am happy you have accepted your bipolar. I believe acceptance is the first step in recovery and unfortunately it took me much too long to finally accept my bipolar as I did fight it every step of the way until I could no longer deny it or fight it any longer. I am happy you are able to fight it better. Keep keeping on and keep fighting. Much love and hugs, Sue

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