My Story: Cindy

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I did not have a proper diagnosis until my late 20s — I am 61 now. I have been receiving treatment for mental health problems since I was 15, back in the late 60s, when no one seemed to know what bipolar really was.

I was treated with Trazodone as a young person, which helped with the depression a little. At least, it made me sleep. I did a lot of self-medicating throughout my teens and as a young adult. As I got older I was either out of control or sleeping.

I got some real help in my late 20s. By then the SRSIs were out on the market, Prozac being the first med, and the whole world changed for me. I take a better drug now.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

Getting clean and sober was my number one priority. I am taking better care of my mental health now, and have accepted bipolar as a disease and not a fault in me. I have to take care of it as I do my other health problems. I put all the negative people out of my life and I had to learn to love myself — and I do.

Who has been there for you? How?

My sister is my protector and my mentor. We are closer than twins. She has problems also, so we would always vent to each other on the phone. She has always encouraged me to keep trying. Even through the worst times of my life, she never abandoned me, and she never will.

My husband has been as understanding as he can be. He is a medical professional and he knows how hard I fight to stay healthy.

I put all the negative people out of my life and I had to learn to love myself - and I do.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I am proud that I use social media to spread the word about mental health and stop the stigma associated with mental illness. I talk on the phone with young people and help them just by being there.

I am also proud of the work I have done as a caregiver for adults with developmental and physical disabilities

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I am proud that I use social media to spread the word about mental health and stop the stigma associated with mental illness. I talk on the phone with young people and help them just by being there.

I am also proud of the work I have done as a caregiver for adults with developmental and physical disabilities

Living with bipolar has been rough.

Living with bipolar has been rough.

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

You have to take it one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. If you are prescribed meds do not stop them because you want to. It will not be good for you. It is OK to have a meltdown, just get through it and move on and forgive yourself — feelings are not right or wrong, they just are.

Feelings are not right or wrong, they just are.

Is there anything else we should know?

I also have dissociative identity disorder, complex PTSD, and borderline personality disorder — I have never met a person with bipolar disorder who had bipolar alone.

I live in a very difficult situation right now. I have two sons, a husband and a grandson. My oldest son is ill also, and self medicates with alcohol. My youngest son is paranoid schizophrenic now from all his drug use. He is in jail right now, and that is a good thing as he is an active heroin addict; I know he is safe. My husband of 30 years is an active alcoholic. Meditation and letting go of the things I have no control over is a good thing for me.

About Cindy

My Story: Cindy

I am in my 60s now and my life living with bipolar has been rough. I grew up in a steel mill town, and I was already sick by the time I was 1.

My mother abandoned us when I was a baby. That was the first trauma, but it was always chaos and abuse in my home. I grew up in a home without boundaries raised by a narcissistic father and all his wives and girlfriends. My stepmother was a paranoid schizophrenic, on drugs, and the abuse was horrible.

Once my maternal grandparents took us for a two-week visit and wouldn’t let us go back. My dad went to court and they gave custody to him. My mother was living there also.

My nana was loving and nurturing, and she truly loved us. We spent all of our summers with our paternal grandmother, who was very good to us. My maternal grandma would sneak to see us; at a very young age I had learned to keep secrets, and that was bad.

The years passed and the abuse continued. I don’t remember a lot of it now, but enough to know it was very bad. I was assaulted at the age of 10. I started getting sick at about age 12.

I’ve had recurring nightmares most of my life, and still do. I have been in the hospital twice for my mental health problems. I have learned to live with all of this and never give up. Even when I fall, I get right back on track.

I think the one thing that keeps me going is my family. I have a wonderful grandson. My sons are a mess. I try not to worry about them, but every day it is a huge challenge for me to not fret over them. I take life one day at a time, and feel grateful when I am not feeling sick.

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