Personal story

My diagnosis is not who I am

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder in 2012 with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as a part of it. 

Hello, my name is Andri and I am here to share my story with you.  This post was difficult to write mainly because I will be sharing my story publicly for the first time.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder in 2011 and I believe that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is also a part of it.  What this basically means is I tend to get depression during autumn and winter months.  Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness and I need to take daily medication to help my brain get the correct brain chemicals that it needs for me to be a functioning member of society. 

My personal experience with the disorder is that I can generally function normally and my moods are stable, I just have a bit higher anxiety and with SAD I get depression during winter which totally derails my creativity and zest for life.

When I was first diagnosed I suffered from very bad depression, night terrors and visual delusions (which is how my psychosis manifested) and was burnt out.  It got really bad, and when I started my medication, I felt sick every day for about four weeks until my body adjusted to the medication.  After the first two weeks, the medication really started helping, and my psychosis was lifted in a few days.  It was the scariest experience I’ve ever had and I don’t wish it upon anyone.  What really helped me through it all was God, Who is my rock and I could really find shelter in Him.  Sometimes I would just be in bed crying and praying and His presence helped soothe my mental and emotional turmoil.  I also have a very supportive family network, and my husband (then fiancee) really stood by my side from the start.  

I continued working during this time, and after recovering from the depression and burn out in about 18 months I started with my Honours in Psychology at Unisa.  What was really striking to me is that I actually studied Bipolar disorder when I was doing my degree in Psychology before I got diagnosed, and I didn’t see the signs in myself at all.  And all the knowledge in the world cannot prepare you for what it really means to have psychosis, or depression, mania, etc.  When I was studying my honors course I realized the impact our mental health has on our whole life and I really got very passionate about how the human mind works and how society and our family impacts on that as well.  When I was doing my degree I functioned in mania most of the time so I could study till very late, and wake up early for months on end, which I would not be able to do anymore because my medication regulates my brain, and I have a more balanced sleep and wake cycle which meant to me that I will have less energy to study and therefore not do well in my degree.  My assumption was incorrect, I graduated my Honours degree in 2016 Cum laude showing that with very hard work and determination you can still accomplish your dreams even with mental illness.  When my husband and I moved to Macau I was excited to see that the universities here offer Masters and Ph.D.’s in Psychology, and I’m hoping to start studying my Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy in September of 2018.  

The reason why I am sharing all of this with you is to educate and inspire you who knows someone or is someone suffering from any type of lifelong illness where society has told you that you cannot accomplish certain things due to said illness. 

I am here to tell you that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to with hard work, determination and a lot of grace from God. 

I am happily married and living my life the best way I know how.  The reason that I created this site is to share my story, coping skills, information on mental health and hope to inspire and spread hope to everyone who is affected with mental illness, or knows someone affected by mental illness.  I will be happy if I can help others see that there is hope; change and growth are possible, one step at a time.

If you have any question or comments about Bipolar disorder or Seasonal Affective Disorder, leave your questions and remarks in the comment section, and I will get back to you. 

Update: I got accepted into the Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy at the University of Saint Joseph in Macau and I am beyond excited.

About Andri

My name is Andri and I am passionate about encouraging others and sharing information and coping strategies through my personal experiences of having Bipolar 1 Disorder. I have an Honours degree in Psychology and am currently busy with my Master's degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy.

11 comments on “My diagnosis is not who I am

  1. Hey,

    Hope you are doing well.

    Not sure if I have sent this request before.

    I am scheduling Mental Health Awareness re-blogs for the month of May, can I share a blog post of yours that’s related to the subject in any way.

    Your words can help educate the readers on the subject and give validation to the ones traveling in the same boat.

    Thank you! 🙂


  2. Pingback: My diagnosis is not who I am

  3. Hi, I read this because stoneronarollercoaster shared it. I don’t suffer from these things but my husbands mum had SAD. I pointed out to the hospital that she always got severely depressed in the winter. They hadn’t noticed after treating her for thirty years, thankfully she then got treatment for it.
    I agree with you. A diagnosis helps clarify what is going on, but does not reveal the whole person. Thank you for sharing and wishing you success in your studies x


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