My Story: Alishia Kurz

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

At 20 years old after my parents’ divorce, I experienced a massive depressive episode. I was diagnosed bipolar, but did not believe it.

At 30 years old, after having my first child, I was back in front of a psychiatrist being told I'm bipolar. But this time the doctor made me read about bipolar from the medical book. I was no longer able to deny it.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

Having bipolar is difficult; for me, parenting with bipolar can seem next to impossible. I have learned to do what works for my family and me.

Bipolar is different for all of us. I cut toxic people out, and I use marijuana to help with the symptoms of mania, which many people, including some doctors, don't understand.

After several years and many, many medications, we have found that for me, the bipolar is treatment resistant. My goal is to attempt to treat much of this nutritionally. So, I'm still making changes!

Who has been there for you? How?

My husband is the most amazing person I've ever known! Almost everyone else has let me down — not always intentionally, but let me down.

They offer little support and even less understanding. But my husband takes care of me when I need it and let lets me fly when I can.

Relationships in general are difficult, but maintaining a thriving marriage can seem impossible! But we keep at it, because, at least in our case, it's so worth it! 15 years and counting!

What accomplishment are you proud of?

My parenting. Becoming a mother was difficult for me, to say the very least. It took months for me to bond with both of my girls and the depression was overwhelming — and that's putting it lightly.

And the guilt was unbearable. I spent the first year of both of their lives convinced they would all be better off if I were dead.

But now my oldest is seven and my youngest is three. Every day presents a challenge, some worse than others, and I'm proudest that I'm still here to overcome those challenges with my children.

Before I had children I had this idea of the kind of mother I would be. The reality is, I will never be that kind of mamma.

I will never be the mom on the beach, or at the soccer game, or at the fair, or in mommy and me classes. Either I yell too much or don't talk at all, either I'm making four course meals for dinner or they're eating cereal — there is no in between for me.

But you know what, that's ok, because I'm here and trying and doing my best every day.

The most empowering thing I've done is learn to trust myself again.

It took months for me to bond with both of my girls and the depression was overwhelming.

It took months for me to bond with both of my girls and the depression was overwhelming.

What's your advice to someone else living with Bipolar?

Learn about yourself, go to therapy, practice DBT, work hard to identify what works and doesn't work for you, and don't be afraid to do what works for you.

People won't understand, they will judge and question you. But keep working, don't give up.

The most empowering thing I've done is learn to trust myself again. And I know that there will be times when I can't trust myself — but that's ok, I have some good supports in place.

When I do fall again, which will happen at some point, it's ok, because with every fall, every cycle, I learn more about my condition and how to manage it.

Learn about yourself, go to therapy, practice DBT, work hard to identify what works.

Is there anything else we should know?

I am a walking contradiction. I love to read and learn and debate but I am also a TV zombie; I am the laziest productive person I've ever known.

I’m very compassionate and understanding, but have no problem helping someone identify their bigotry and calling them out. I'm working on that one!

I'm 37. I had an amazing childhood, damn near perfect, but I knew from a very early age that I was different.

My parents tried as best they could to help, but no one understood that I was sick. For the longest time everyone just thought I was an asshole.

Bipolar has defined me for as long as I can remember, for many years before I accepted my diagnosis. But I'm working to change that!

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