School Counselor, Public High School
Living with bipolar 2 disorder

Kristen has been living with Bipolar II Disorder for more than 15 years. Though her first few years were rough, she gradually found the treatment plan that was right for her. Today, Kristen runs a support group and her routine keeps her healthy and happy.

Kristen’s Story

What was your most difficult time?

A year before being diagnosed up to finding the right treatment plan four years later. Before my diagnosis, I had extreme anxiety, racing thoughts, and an overall unsettled feeling. At times, I felt agitated and uncomfortable in my own skin. After my diagnosis, I went through a couple of years of being overmedicated where I felt disconnected and helpless.

What is your life like now?  What does success/living well look like for you?

While the first few years were challenging, I have found a treatment plan that both works for me and allows me to support, advocate, and educate others as well. Success for me is being able to work full-time, connect with friends and family, keep regular doctors’ appointments, and volunteer. Most importantly, I’m able to recognize when something feels off and make adjustments. 

What help or specific strategies helped you to get well and move to stability?

The first step for me in moving to stability is making adjustments to areas of life I can control. I got back to a regular sleep pattern, healthy eating habits, and went out for walks. Then, I looked at treatment options like seeing a therapist more often or making an appointment with my doctor.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy on an ongoing basis?

It was important for me to develop a routine to help manage having Bipolar Disorder. Every Sunday I lay out my medication needs for the week and use technology to set reminders for refills. When it comes to friends and family, I let them know general information like I’m having a hard time and just need to hang out or grab dinner. I save the deeper thoughts for the professionals. I connect with others by running a support group and speaking about mental illness.

My favorite strategy is to bring in my senses. For example, I find comfort in drinking a warm hot chocolate, listening to nature sounds, cocooning myself in my covers, and getting a chiropractic adjustment and massage.

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

Keep moving forward and stay the course. This illness is treatable, and there’s always another strategy or option to try.