Hello readers. I just received this email from Cherise. I answered below and know she could use your support as well. How do you handle wanting to do something such as working or going to school full time, but always having to manage the illness first? Here is her post.
I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Type 1 for about 7 years. I have struggled with depression and OCD since about 14. I’m 44 and cycle about every 2 months even though I have tried every medication regimen possible. Now I am on Lamictal, which seems to have the fewest side effects and works most of the time. Right now I am in a downward spiral; my thought are obsessive, I’m borderline suicidal and having nightmares. I hope this lifts soon. I’m a high acheiver and got my nursing degree (RN), but I lost my license, because I got very depressed on the unit one day. Although I told the nurse manager I was not feeling well and to please have someone watch my patients; she turned me in to the State Board of Nursing. I have never forgiven myself for this; this was right before I was diagnosed and on medications. The world is so unforgiving to people with mental illness! Right now, I am back in school, trying to become a pharmacist, but my stress level is through the roof and I am not sure I should be doing this? The stress of school, financial problems and marriage problems are probably what is making me cycle? I do not know what to do. My goal is to get off of SSD, and make something of myself again. I feel stuck and I want out, what should I do?
You are in a complicated situation- but not uncommon. It’s essential that the bipolar calm down before you can work in the way you know you could if you were not ill. I face this daily. You have to ask yourself what is best for your stability and then go from there. Work or school that makes you more ill will always be difficult. Do you have a management plan outside of the Lamictal?
A plan is essential for all people with bipolar. You don’t have to do everything at once. Going to school part time- working part time or taking time off to get better is a better option that wearing yourself out. I agree that those of us with bipolar disorder are looked at differently- but once you prove that you are a stable and dependable worker, people will be more accepting. I just spoke to a group of pharmacy students on the topic of bipolar disorder- and I saw how much work they have every day. I know that my bipolar disorder could not handle this stress. Thus, you have to ask yourself if pharmacy school is the best choice right now. You can think of the future once the illness is more managed. I do sound like a broken record- because this is the reality of bipolar disorder. In order to work and have a life and not be overly stressed every minute of the day- somehow, someway the bipolar has to be managed- and this often means a person has to do less, even though they are capable of so much more! Julie