Bipolar – Diagnosis or Not

I saw and heard something on TV sometime over the past few days that really pissed me off.  I wish I could identify the program.  In any case, one character, probably one in a position of power said “You are Bipolar, which means you have manic episodes where you are really excited and destructive without any care for the damage you cause.  You’re out of control.  It also means you have times with deep depression and are prone to attempt suicide.  If you weren’t Bipolar, these things wouldn’t be happening to you.”

Now, I don’t have a big argument against how the character explained Bipolar, though it seems a bit broad.  It certainly does not apply to everyone.  Everybody’s experience with Bipolar is different.  My big problem is with the last line.  I have only had Bipolar for a little over a year.  At least that’s what my medical records say.  Evidence shows that I have had Bipolar for at least 15 years.  Logic tells me that even with diagnoses of Depression, Major Depression with Psychotic Features and Psychotic Depression, I still had Bipolar.  It doesn’t take a diagnosis to tell you that you have something.  It didn’t take a diagnosis to tell me I had cancer to give me cancer.  I would have had it whether the doctor had told me I had it or not.  What the diagnosis does is give the doctor steps to take in treatment.  Then you have to work with your doctor to come up with the treatment that is right for you.  It may take weeks, months, or years to get the treatment right.  Even then it might not be exactly right.  Bipolar Disorder is a moving target.  Something that has worked for a long time might, all of a sudden, stop working.  Then it is back to square one.  Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor exactly what you’re experiencing, that is the only way they’ll be able to respond to your needs.  You are your own best advocate.  It takes great courage to stand up for yourself.  Do it, and you’ll be better for it.

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