is Ed. When I first got sober, the manic-depressive disorder appeared
even more pronounced than it had before. It was no longer hidden by
alcohol and drugs. The stress of withdrawal in my early recovery
triggered wild mood swings for me.
I was constantly on edge. No one
told me I was bipolar in those first months of recovery. I went from
mania (excited) to depressed, sometimes in a fast cycle. These mood
swings were much more extreme than those of other people whom I had met
in my 12-Step support groups.
During the first time I was under
stress in recovery, my bipolar disorder became detectable to others. My
12-Step peers and my family thought I was high on drugs. I thought I was
doing well, not knowing I was manic.
When mania peaks, the impulse to
drink or use is almost overwhelming for me. When I relapsed in response
to this upswing mood, I had reached such an advanced stage of addiction
that I could no longer safely drink for even a day.
I consulted a psychiatrist who saw
something else behind the alcoholism. He prescribed the medication that
would bring down the tendency to "cycle up".
Once I started taking medication
for my bipolar disease, I became balanced; my mood swings were less
severe. Medication management is critical for me, because any
fluctuation of time or dosage can affect the purpose of the medication.
For over a year I was taking my
medication faithfully and feeling balanced and "normal". As
with substance abuse, "stinking thinking" started to set in,
for my mental illness. I believed that I was "well", so I
slowly stopped taking my meds.
In the early stages of mania, I
began to feel "good"; this played into the idea that I didnít
need my meds. This stage is referred to as "hypomania". It is
euphoric, and afterwards, I slowly spiraled downward.
Suffering from the diseases of
chemical dependency and bipolar has been stressful to me. In recovery I
have to deal with many problems that arose from my dual disorder.
Straightening out the chaos that was created during my addiction and
from manic episodes proves to be a challenge.
I had to work through a lot of
anger, accepting the fact that I had not one, but two disorders, and
that my bipolar disease was misdiagnosed earlier.
But recovery from both diseases is
possible. When I understood for the first time that each disease needs
to be paid attention to equally, but differently, I was now on a journey
Recovery from chemical dependency
requires that I accept my addiction and abstain from mood-altering
chemicals. It involves attending 12-Step meetings, working with my
sponsor, working the 12 Steps and improving my physical health.
Recovery from bipolar disorder
also requires that I accept the disease. Attend dual disorder meetings;
increase my activity when Iím depressed and decrease my activity when
Iím manic, or slow down and think constructively.
I believe Iíve had bipolar all
my life to some degree. I believe that as my addiction became worse and
the addictive behavior I displayed created a lot of stress in my life,
my full-blown bipolar disease was activated.
There is no quick fix for problems
that my dual disorder creates. I must work hard to change. This includes
how I deal with my thoughts; perception of those thoughts and my
feelings. Most importantly, I must take my medication when I donít
want to. I must make it a habit. Currently, I have two years clean and
sober, and am looking forward to many more sober years.