Jackie, 37, New York, US

12039463_801604064038_5065236027842504964_n“Ever since I was a young girl, I had a mercurial temperament. I had behavioral problems beginning in elementary school and was diagnosed back then with Autism.

Looking back, that was a misdiagnosis. Fast forward to my mid-teens and I began a series of psychiatric hospitalizations–some long-term and some acute–with a diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder (Bipolar type), PTSD, and Borderline Personality Disorder.

I have since recovered from the latter quite recently but will have Bipolar Disorder for the rest of my life. When I first began medications as a teen, I rapidly packed on over 100 lbs from the mood stabilizers and antipsychotics needed to treat my condition.

By the time I reached my mid-20s, I weighed over 300 lbs, which did nothing for my depression. I decided to take myself off my medications (not wise) and I lost some of the weight, but my illness did not disappear. After over 20 years in the mental health system, I have come to terms with this illness and have a psychiatrist I can speak honestly with, I am on medications that help, and I have lost over 110 lbs. (still working on it). I see a therapist weekly and attend group therapy, too.
Right now I am working as a freelance writer and enjoy being a mental health advocate.

My main piece of advice is for anyone suffering with Bipolar Disorder to realize that medications are usually needed for treatment and it’s easy to be in denial when you feel “up”, but to try to have enough of a support system to help keep you on your medication and therapy regimen when you don’t think you need it anymore. Medications won’t be a cure, but they can help if you find the right combination.”

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