Saturday, October 25, 2014

Recognizing Bipolar Disorder

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After being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, people often think to themselves "where do I go from here". Living with a bipolar disorder can be a daunting task if the person does not seek the correct type of treatment from professionals.  
Only a psychiatrist or other mental health professional can correctly diagnose a person with a mental health disorder properly because they have the correct assessment tools and knowledge.  If you suspect a person in your life has a mental health disorder it is critical to start looking into viable options to get them correctly treated, as bipolar disorder can lead to unhealthy decisions and thoughts which can result in death.  

Here are the steps I took in my life that lead to a diagnosis of bipolar and let me remind you, I knew hardly anything about this mental disorder other than how to spell it.  

1) Self Evaluation - Evaluating your thoughts and actions can be the most daunting task of beginning to recognize that you may need assistance to live a healthy and successful life.  Look at your actions, thoughts and behaviors including what leads to those actions and the results of them.  During this step I recognized that I was having impulsive thoughts and that I was abusing alcohol as a coping mechanism. 

2) Talk to Family and/or a Trusted Individual - The first step to speaking to a family member or friend is to listen, listen, listen. You may want to ask the question "what types of things have you been observing in my behavior lately". The answers may be hard to swallow, but make sure you listen and keep your guard down.  Remember that your family and friends are trying to help you succeed in life. 

3) General Health Practitioner / Doctor -  Step three in taking action to improve my quality of life was to seek help from my general doctor that I go to for the common cold and high blood pressure. I spoke to my doctor about my general concerns and my families concerns about my thought processes and my previous stint in treatment for alcohol addiction.  He recommended that I seek out professional help through a psychiatrist to receive personalized mental health services.

4) Seeking Out and Speaking to a Psychiatrist - I looked online in on my insurance network of providers.  This was very important so that I had low cost out of pocket for a psychiatrist.  Insurance does cover most of the cost of going to a psychiatrist, depending on the coverage you have. I started off with a doctor I did not care for or want to see again.  I felt uncomfortable in his office and did not appreciate the things he was telling me after only knowing me for minutes. I had the freedom to never go back so I didn't.  I was encouraged by my wife to continue to seek out another psychiatrist and I assured her I would.  I did find another psychiatrist's name in my insurance directory and my life has drastically changed every since.  I meet with him once every three months and he has me on the proper medication for my bipolar and ADHD disorders. 

I was once a 'tough' guy that was not willing to seek help because I liked the feeling of mania in my life, but the lows brought me to the depths of depression.  I have been seeing my psychiatrist now for 5 years and during this time I also went to treatment for alcohol addiction.  
These actions saved my life and I am thankful for the help I received and the help I continue to receive everyday of my life. 

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