Bipolar Disorder: Be an Advocate for Yourself

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Marcy lives with bipolar disorder. Since being diagnosed, her views of the disorder have changed significantly.

Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At the time, it was still widely known as manic depression. My misconception was that manic depressives were one conversation away from eating the barrel of a gun; I didn't know that, along with the lows, there could be corresponding highs.

Obviously, my opinions have really changed since then, but our society still holds many misconceptions about bipolar disorder. When people think bipolar, they think "volatile." But for the last 13 years, with treatment and support, I've been managing my bipolar, not suffering from it. I don't like to call it an illness, either, because I don't feel sick. I've been an advocate for myself for many years, and now I'm ready to be an advocate for the disorder.

Here are some tips for people with bipolar:

Don't Be Ashamed

We can change so much about who we are in order to conform to what society deems attractive, but you can't change the way your brain is wired. I'm not saying it's easy, but you can't let people make you feel embarrassed because you have bipolar disorder. Bipolar doesn't define who I am, but it is a part of me. If people ask me if I'm bipolar, I'm honest with them.

Take Responsibility for Your Actions

It's easy to hide behind a mental illness; it took me a year after my diagnosis before I was ready to hold myself accountable for my decisions. But mental illness doesn't take action -- people do. Don't blame your mistakes on being bipolar.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 15, 2014

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