My Story by Dave
I was first diagnosed with a mental illness when I was in my teens. Throughout my teenage years, I had been given many different diagnoses, put on many different drugs and been in and out of hospitals, all to no avail. However, I always had a lot of drive and a strong will to succeed. Somehow, despite being in the grips of a then improperly diagnosed mental illness, I managed to graduate high school and struggle along in college.
When I was twenty years old, I was hospitalized again, now the fourth time. During my stay, my mother and my then girlfriend researched possible treatments for my condition and found evidence that many patients with similar symptoms as I were gaining a strong benefit from a new drug called Zyprexa. My mother insisted that I be put on this drug, and the results were remarkable. Like a light switch had been flipped, I suddenly was lowered from what had previously been an extremely manic state. I was able to have a coherent conversation with my mom for the first time in years. It would seem that my miracle drug had been found.
With the benefit of my newfound stabilization, I began earning high marks in college and graduated two years later with a 3.8 GPA, cum laude and with departmental honors with a degree in English Literature. The psychiatrist I was seeing at the time diagnosed me with “atypical psychosis, possibly schizoaffective disorder.” However, it was at this time that a mistake was made in my treatment. After continuously lowering my dose, my doctor and I decided that it was possible that I no longer needed medication. The decision was made to discontinue my medication all together.
The effects were not immediate. I did fine for several months, but it was not long before my mental illness started to rear its ugly head in my life. My mother and other family members began insisting that I resume medication treatment. I resisted, and as a result, I was soon estranged from my entire family. This was all happening at a very critical time in my life. I had just started my first semester of law school.
Though I had become quite sick, I still had the wherewithal to drop out of law school before I failed out. Just before the deadline, I withdrew myself from courses. The result was that I did not receive any bad grades, which would have made any later return to law school difficult.
Still off medication and struggling to hold myself together, I got a job as a reporter for a small weekly newspaper in the Bay Area. However, it became increasingly harder and harder to perform my duties as my manic state took over my life. Finally, I contacted my old doctor and told him that I wanted to go back on my medication. Again, the results were immediate. As soon as I began taking my medication again, my mania was put in balance, and I was able to perform my job duties. I worked at the newspaper for a year, until I decided I wanted to go back to law school. I applied, was accepted and given a scholarship.
I had tremendous success in law school this time around. Earning nearly straight A’s in all my classes. I graduated in 2004 third in my class and passed the California Bar Exam on the first try. I was then hired by the Federal Government as a Presidential Management Fellow, an incredibly competitive fellowship designed to foster leadership skills. After my fellowship, I stayed in the Federal Government, serving two years as a Trademark Examining Attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Thereafter, I took a job in the private sector as a managing attorney for the trademark department of a large intellectual property law firm. After two years of working for other people, I decided to run my own business. I opened my own solo practice law firm. I began operating my practice in San Diego and moved it to Placerville in 2011.
Due to the difficulties I have had in my life dealing with Bipolar Disorder, my mother sought help and as a result came across the group Bipolar Insights. Through the help of Marcia Rose and by attending Bipolar Insights, my mother came to learn more about the disorder and how to best help me. Soon I was regularly attending meetings myself. As a result, I quickly began to accept that I had a disorder that required treatment; I began taking my medications religiously; and, through Bipolar Insights, started getting the education I needed to maintain balance.
Before I started attending Bipolar Insights, my lack of knowledge about the disease threatened to take away all of the success I had built in my life. There were times that I did not feel I needed medication, and there were even times I doubted that I had Bipolar Disorder. I could have lost everything. However, now, through the lessons I have learned in Bipolar Insights, I have come to realize that I do in fact have a disease which requires treatment, but I also understand that I can maintain perfect balance in my life by taking my medication, seeing my doctor regularly, staying educated, journaling, and of course, regularly attending Bipolar Insights.
The greatest tool Bipolar Insights offers is regular access to Marcia Rose. In the two years that I have been a regular at Bipolar Insights, there have been times when I needed help, and Marcia has always been there for my family and me. Her dedication to helping people with this disorder is invaluable.
Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned from Marcia and through my attendance at Bipolar Insights is that Bipolar Disorder is something I have, not what I am. Though I have come to accept that I have this disease, I no longer let it define me. I am now in balance and have been for quite some time. I rely on the lessons I have learned from Marcia and in Bipolar Insights as tools to help maintain that balance.
Bipolar Insights Calendar/Journal 2014
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