Hello, my name is Lizzy 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 a Honours degree at Unisa. What was really striking to me is that I actually studied Bipolar disorder in a module I was studying 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 doing my BA degree I functioned in mania most of the time so I could study till very late, and wake up early for months on end. But for my Honours degree 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 and am due to finish my Masters degree in June 2020.
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.