Bipolar Disorder is Part of My Mental Illness Life but It is Not My Life

A few days ago I wrote a post titled “You Don’t Have Bipolar Disorder” which are the words my new psychiatrist told me after seeing me three times. He also told me I had borderline personality disorder, PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder.

After I was given my bipolar 1 disorder diagnosis 25 years ago, I researched it extensively. I did not want to have a mental illness and especially not bipolar disorder. I tried to fight it every step of the way as long as I could and was in denial far too long. Believe me if there was something I could find to prove to my doctors that I did not have bipolar disorder I would have found it. I couldn’t find anything to disprove my bipolar diagnosis. There was no mistaking it. I had bipolar 1 disorder. After many years I finally accepted my bipolar disorder and then began the long winding road to recovery.

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The anti-depressant Prozac given to me to treat my postpartum depression increased my anxiety triple-fold. I also had symptoms of mania, hypomania, mixed episodes and rapid cycling. I will never know what came first—the chicken or the egg. Did the psychotropic medications cause me to mimic bipolar 1 disorder symptoms or did I always have bipolar? The problem and the answer are the same. It doesn’t matter at this point. It is what it is and it was what it was. The point is that I had bipolar symptoms. I will never know all the answers for sure.

I am happy with my new psychiatrist and welcome his positive comments and new school knowledge. I am not positive if my new P-doc’s diagnosis is correct and it doesn’t really matter right now as I am not taking psychotropic medications. I am over five months psychotropic medication free and am still doing very well. He is monitoring my progress closely and I will stay medication free as long as I am feeling well. I think after taking psychotropic medications for over twenty years and having so many ECT treatments possibly somehow it has transformed my brain positively.

Nothing is cut in stone in the mental health world. There is no scientific proof, x-rays, cat scans or blood work to determine an absolute unfailing diagnosis. When I was given my mental illness diagnoses I was already taking a psychotropic medication that changed my brain chemistry causing severe side effects of increased anxiety, mania and insomnia. Antidepressants can cause bipolar like symptoms. Plus, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder have many similar symptoms and characteristics making it more difficult to make an accurate diagnosis.

Unfortunately, Psychiatrists do not have all the answers and sometimes it is a guessing game at best. They do the best they can with what they are given. I don’t have bad feelings for my diagnoses as they occurred. There is nothing I can do about it today. I can’t change the past. I refuse to visit the what ifs. If I did I could put myself at risk for developing depression and that is the last thing I want to happen.

I have lived with mental illness for over 25 years and nothing can change that. Bipolar is only a label to help treat a mental illness. Bipolar is not who I am but it is a part of who I am and will always be. I feel relieved and feel a little lighter without the bipolar diagnosis if it is true. It lightens my load a little but it is only a word—only a label. It does not change my past or who I am.

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Mental illness diagnoses and labels are given and are necessary to help doctors treat patients, improve their mental health and ensure an optimal quality of life. My mental illness diagnoses and labels from the past helped me survive then. Currently, they increase my awareness of possible triggers, help me understand the cause of my symptoms and which symptoms to watch closely for and have taught me how to cope effectively and reach my optimal mental health and life.

Being diagnosed with mental illness does not always mean forever. Maybe it is like cancer in the sense that we go in remission. Maybe it never goes away completely, but the brain can change favorably over time and mental health can improve. Recently, I read an article that said people diagnosed with personality disorder can reduce their symptoms as they age. This improvement can be caused from changes in the brain chemistry and other treatments such as dialectical behavior therapy being effective for personality disorder. As we age we learn better coping strategies and skills that teach us how to overcome obstacles and struggles in our lives. Surviving many different life experiences helps transform brains and gain necessary inner strength. Maybe the same holds true with bipolar disorder as well. We just don’t have all the answers yet.

I believe I had bipolar 1 disorder and may still have it. Maybe my brain chemistry has changed over the years because of the natural aging process, many different psychotropic medications I took for 25 years, ECT treatments and God. All of the above combined and blended well together with my life experiences and brought me to where I am right now.

I write optimistically not because my life is perfect but because my life is perfectly unperfect. Surviving so many struggles helped me turn my wounds and blemishes into beauty marks.

“Look for beauty in the blemishes of life.” ~Susan Walz

“Turn life’s blemishes into beauty marks.” Susan Walz

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Copyright © 2018 Susan Walz | | All Rights Reserved




  1. My life changed immeasurably for the better when my orientation shifted from the symptoms to cause. Also akin to my experience and psychic change when I became a survivor and no longer a victim. That shift snuffed out the blame dimension that I wasn’t wholly conscious of and a better life of using my talents to help others began.

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    1. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing your wonderful insight. I appreciate it. Your words are beautiful and definitely make sense. I think they are important in the recovery for everyone. Much love and hugs, Sue


  2. This was a great read for me… looking back im sure that if I wasn’t stubborn enough to see a doctor I would have been diagnosed with a disorder like bi-polar disorder because especially as a teen i had my external ups and downs. I truly believe All it would have took was a diagnosis and a few medications to keep the ball rolling. But as time went on I learned new life skills and how to cope with my feelings. Faith and God played a major roll because there are manynpassages that indicate that we are all susceptible to ups and downs in life and that there are good days and bad days and that they will pass. We as humans have always been victims of our mental state. Faith knows this too well and God wants us to fight through those moments to grow to other heights with other challenges to overcome! Hind sights 20/20 so dont worry about the past God also wants us to never regret and trust in his will, which this was destined for you… now it’s time to move forward, you’ve come through a lot and you can now share this great information to help others! You’ve definitely confirmed my beliefs that we can overcome so much, it just takes alittle fighting and belting through to get There. Peace and blessings 💙

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful feedback. Your words are very insightful and inspiring. I love them and I agree with all of them. I probably never would have went to see a pychiatrist either but after giving birth I really became undone and was referred by my OB doc and the rest is history as they say. I know God saved my life. I have always been a believer but it wasn’t until I surrendered completely to God that my life improved and I got stronger to fight through this. There were so many signs of God’s healing and presence in my life. It is such an amazing blessing. I am very blessed. It is my passion to help others and to give others hope. I pray that is what I can instill. I also want to spread the good news of Jesus and how He saved my life. I am happy you are doing well and overcame before you went down the psychotropic medication and treatment route. Much love and hugs, Sue

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    1. I think (pray) there are remission possibilities. The brain changes over time and prayerfully for the better. Everyone is different of course but I hope this holds true for many. I am aware of a few more people that have been living with bipolar for years and stopped taking psychotropic medications that are also med. free right now and are dong better. This was after years of taking psych meds and some had ects etc. I am going to research this more as I am very curious about this. I know that my mental health has improved after 25 years. I am better. I am older and I found out by going off medications and given my brain time to adjust that my brain is better without meds. I have always been one of those people that could not take medications effectively or well. The side effects and adverse reactions were almost worse for me than the symptoms. I guess I have always been super sensitive to meds. Thank you for your kind comments and I pray you have mental wellness. Hugs, Sue

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    1. I think the stigma associated with it may have been one of the hardest parts as it was the source for the most destruction in my life. It is so hard because besides fighting an illness you had to fight the stigma. I pray one day the stigma will get better. We still have along ways to go but we all need to be a postive voice to help end the stigma. I hope you are well. You are wonderful.


      1. The stigma is harmful but it’s pervasive. It limits people’s willingness to seek out care or to share what they are going through. Factor in the influence of culture and the stigma hurts a lot of people. There is a long way to go to break down the wall that mental illness is not a sign of personal weakness.
        Thank you for your sweet comment!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree. We have such a long way to go when it comes to stigma. It is kind of like two steps forward and three steps back and sideways in many different directions sometimes. We have a long way to go and we must keep fighting it. I hope you are well. Much love and hugs, Sue

        Liked by 1 person

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