Executive Director, SC Spinal Cord Injury Association
Living with bipolar 1 disorder

Angela has lived with Bipolar Disorder for nearly 40 years, and though she’s had some rough patches she’s stable, healthy, and happy. “My life is fantastic!” she says. “I am unique and now I know it.”

Angela’s Story

How has your condition affected your life?

My condition has impacted many aspects of my life, but the one area which has been impacted the most is my relationships. I was first aware of my condition when I was about 12 years old, so my relationship with my parents suffered. We always fought, sometimes physically, and I had no good frame of reference in which to raise my own children.

What was your most difficult time?

When my children were young. I had five children under the age of eight and a husband who worked away from home during the week. It was nearly impossible to speak to my children about my condition. I didn’t really understand it myself, so I tried to hide it. I struggled to be a good mom, just like those on television, but the struggle got harder and harder.

What helped you get well and move to stability?

Going on medications and talking with a counselor. I have found a combination of medications which is effective for me, but it was a long journey to get to this point. I spent eight years working with a counselor. She was really good, but I was finally in the right place to hear what she had to say  We did a lot of talking because I didn’t have enough social support. I learned a lot from her about self-talk and dealing with others. She also helped me get past the idea of being perfect.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy?

I have a strict medication regimen – I NEVER miss a dose! I focus on positive self-talk – telling myself that I might not feel like a good worthy person right now, but it is just a matter of time and I’ll be back. I have cut out artificial sweeteners, additives and sodas – I figure bipolar is a chemical imbalance, so I shouldn’t add any extra chemicals.

I have written plan for those days when my mind can’t function. I pull it up on my computer and follow the directions. It’s one less thing to think about when I shift into a depression.

I communicate and I ask for support! Asking for support was always very difficult for me, but I started communicating with my husband, my children, my work – and I educate my team, so they know how to help me process my thoughts in a healthy way.

What advice would you give to others with a similar condition?

For someone going through a depression, I say take be kind to yourself and don’t feel guilty about it, watch only funny shows on the television, stay away from alcohol. For someone in a manic episode I would say: “Hide the credit cards!” and have a plan.