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What It's Like to Blame Yourself for Not Catching Your Bipolar Diagnosis

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Some days are great. I’m slightly upbeat and getting things done. I can’t sleep and end up working in the middle of the night. Throughout the day, I function as if I had eight hours of sleep. My mind races, and I lack focus — jumping from one thing to the next. But I’m ambitious and passionate, that’s what most would say, and I agree.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Despite the knowledge I gained in mental health first aid, Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) and Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) sessions, YouTube videos, articles, learning from the experiences of others — I missed it, and I am disappointed in myself. I did not count my experiences of extreme irritability to an increase in mood, to the rapid mood switch of depression and suicidal thoughts as an issue. I did not realize my depression medication stopped working. It wasn’t until my latest episode with depression and desire to carry out my suicide plan that I became frustrated and asked my therapist about a higher level of treatment.

My mother often mentioned how fast I talked and how short-tempered I was, but I didn’t know why. It felt as if I was on an emotional roller coaster. I was unable to control my mood and wanted to get off the roller coaster, but did not know how.

I’ve been in therapy for nearly five years. Why didn’t I mention my behaviors and rapid mood swings to my therapist when I noticed it last year? How did my therapist miss it? Maybe a part of me refused to acknowledge it since it did not look like others (extreme behaviors like excessive spending and going into debt, or being hypersexual); bipolar disorder never crossed my mind.

While there is a part of me that feels relieved, another part is angry, and that’s OK. It was easier for me to accept the diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD), but I can’t quite wrap my head around a bipolar diagnosis. However, I believe this new information will slow the roller coaster down so I can learn how the disorder shows up for me and, eventually, stop blaming myself.

Original photo by author

Originally published: March 13, 2020
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