It wasn’t until I was 37 years-old and after the birth of my fourth child, that I was properly diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. That changed my life…for a little while. From that year forward I experienced one to two episodes a year. The episodes mainly took the form of deep depression. I honestly felt that I had lost years of my life. It wasn’t until I was 46 that I experienced my first full blown manic episode. It lasted several months followed by a deep depression of equal length. It was then that I realized that I actually lived with bipolar I disorder. I was stable until the spring of 2018. That marked my second and most severe manic episode. It lasted several months followed by a deep depression that lasted 2 1/2 years.
Looking back on my life, it is easy to see the highs and lows of bipolar disorder. I first presented with symptoms when I was 22 years-old. I had just finished a rigorous combined masters degree program, started a new job, sat for the CPA exam and ended a long-term romantic relationship. It was November and I crashed into mid-January of the following year. I didn’t want to take medicine so I struggled through the episode. Like clockwork, my second episode occurred the following November. I couldn’t fathom the thought of enduring another six weeks of this. As such, I decided to go on prozac. It was a miracle drug for me. I was on a small dose for two years. At that time, I weaned off of the medicine and was episode free for 10 years. It wasn’t until after the birth of my third child that I experienced post partum depression. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.
Had I been diagnosed properly earlier, it could have saved years of pain and suffering for myself and family and friends. It is more difficult to see the signs of bipolar disorder in adolescents and young adults. Knowing that this disorder is hereditary, I have kept a close watch on my four children. Last year my son was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder. We caught it quick and he has been managing his illness while excelling at Penn State.