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Grieving a Diagnosis

When I first received a bipolar I diagnosis, I felt a wide range of emotions. My feelings were aligned with the stages of grief. Instead of grieving a loved one, I was grieving the loss of myself. I was grieving the person I thought I could be without a mental health condition.

Not ready to accept a bipolar diagnosis

At first I was in denial. I had dealt with depression for a good part of my life and felt comfortable saying that I was a depressive person. Then I received the bipolar I diagnosis after having a manic episode in my late 20s and being hospitalized.

When I was released from the hospital, I didn't want to admit that I had a serious mental health condition. I thought that the mania was due to a strong reaction to my antidepressant, not knowing that antidepressants can trigger manic episodes for people with bipolar disorder.

I thought I was fine... Until I had another manic episode a year later. I couldn't deny it any longer. It was true, I had bipolar.

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Angry at my diagnosis

I was angry after that. I was angry about having a diagnosis that could slow me down, that could have a big impact on my life. I hated having to take medication and knowing that I would need to be on medication indefinitely in order to stay well. It felt cruel and unfair.

I think there was some bargaining there too. If only I had taken a different medication earlier in when I was depressed... If only I hadn't had the depressive episode that triggered the need for medication... If only I had found a medicine that worked. If only, if only, if only.

Sinking into depression

The stage I stayed in the most was depression. I was so sad that I couldn't be the me that I wanted to be. I was afraid that having bipolar meant that I couldn't live a good life.

I wouldn't find love and happiness, I wouldn't be successful, I would be a burden to those around me. It took time, and patience, to realize that I could still live meaningfully with a mental health condition.

Finally accepting my bipolar diagnosis

Finally, there is acceptance. Accepting my bipolar diagnosis meant that I could learn to live with it, that I could let it be a part of me without letting it define me. It wasn’t the end of the world, after all. I could still have a good life and live with bipolar.

As I grew to accept this truth, I became more comfortable with sharing the diagnosis with others. I became a self-described bipolar warrior, fighting against stigma in the community. It felt good to share my story and to receive validation that I would be okay.

But it's OK to feel grief

I've lived with a bipolar I diagnosis for almost 20 years. The symptoms still ebb and flow and it took a long time to find the right combination of medication to keep me well. Still, I'm able to live a happy and productive life.

I do occasionally look back and wonder what my life would look like if I hadn't become manic, but the grief has dissipated. To those newly diagnosed: It's okay to feel grief with a new diagnosis. It's okay to feel all of those emotions. Hopefully, it will grow into acceptance and the grief will eventually fade away.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Bipolar.Mental-Health-Community.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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