Dear Dad, From Your Daughter With Bipolar Disorder

My father, my hero. I know that I would not be the woman I am today without my dad. I have lived with bipolar disorder since I was 17 years old and have manic episodes. I have had many ups and downs with my illness for over a decade (I am now 29) and am lucky to have the support of an incredible father.

Throughout my life my dad has taken me to countless doctor’s appointments, visited me when I was in the hospital and at my worst and supported me throughout college — both financially and emotionally — although it took me six years and three different schools to get my bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. My dad has always been one of my biggest fans.

I have bipolar 1 disorder and lose track of reality when I have a manic episode. I have incredible grandiose ideas and lose track of who I am. It takes a lot of patience, support, help, money and love to get me through these episodes. When I am depressed I feel worthless, like a failure and hate myself when I’m depressed. My dad has supported me through all of it, along with my mother and my husband Jeff. They have seen me at my worst and have been there unconditionally.

I currently receive electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments about every six to eight weeks for almost a year now. We have a tradition where, on the night before my appointment, I sleep at my parents’ house, drive to the hospital with my father the day of treatment and then have biscuits and gravy from a local diner to reward myself for going through the treatment. ECT takes a lot out of me. I have had an extremely bad memory after the procedure, knowing my dad, mom and husband support me means everything.

My path has not been easy. Being hospitalized about seven times, taking numerous medications, going to group and individual therapies and building myself up after I forget who I am is exhausting. I often question what my purpose is, but I have no doubt I have been blessed with a loving family, a fantastic husband and a dad who is my hero.

He often tells me I am his hero for all that I have been through. That is the kindest thing he could say and it always makes me feel like maybe I am an okay person. My depression tends to make me lack confidence so hearing his praises really fills me up with pride.

Anyone who has gone through a manic or depressive episode knows you can’t do it alone. Thankfully I don’t have to and I am grateful for all that I have been given. I know I haven’t been the easiest daughter to love and support so this father’s day I plan to let my father, and the world know just how great my dad has been. I love you, dad!

Thinkstock image via dinamelnikova.

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