Medical Questions > Mental Health > Bipolar Disorder Forum

Being a Bipolar Teacher (Page 1)

I have yet to find anybody in this field (my field) whom I can talk to about the horrendous altercations my life has gone through due to this. I can barely even say the word bipolar, and remain a closet case turned recluse. Would anybody like to be a friend and confidant?

I have so many things I want to ask/talk about......

I'm an award-winning teacher, was once considered a highly accomplished over-achiever...And have taken a nose dive that seems to have been further exaserbated by several wrenching events in my life.

I kind of had to quit my job, ...The humiliation.

I have been literally sleeping for a week. I only go get groceries at night because I am afraid of, of encounters with anyone. It even seems ludicrus to me, but I am terrified, living here in a house with the shades drawn, and phone calls never get answered in person.

Recently I bought a computer. After sleeping for 7 days, I have been up between computer and bed for three days...Becoming, for the most part, so engrossed in forums, love lines, etc. That I check them compulsively.

By the way, 4 years, every med in the book, and no alcohol is the history. Prior to being diagnosed, I was "depressed, adhd, whatever."
in nine years, i've lost hold of my life.

I would love a friend to really be honest with about this, and visa versa.

Jessie
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First Helper Jack57
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replied September 19th, 2004
Bipolar Teacher Too
Dear jessie, I too am a bipolar ll award winning teacher. I have been on a leave since april. I just couldn't handle being at work. I too feel like a failure as I know that people have great expectations for me, but I just can't live up to them. Of course, I put enough pressure on myself that I don't need their help. I was diagnosed almost two years ago, but have suffered for years. I feel like I can fake and look good as a teacher sometimes but inside I know that I am only maintaining a charade. It is always only a matter of time before the meds stop working and off I go again... I really try to convince myself, as I am going to try to do with you now, that we have a disease and we are not failures. Our disease affects what we do, not who we are. It is just harder for us because people don't know about our disease. We keep it hidden so there is no explanation for them regarding our behavior. If we had cancer, would we feel like failures. I think not. Maybe if I can convince you of this I can convince myself too. Take care my friend. Xo
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replied February 13th, 2016
How did you go on leave and not get fired?
It sounds like your self-talk is pretty negative. Would you talk to a student that way? Are you worth less?
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replied October 6th, 2004
Another Bipolar Educator
I, too, am a bipolar, award-winning teacher. Am also a family person. Am blessed in many ways -- and I have held it together for a lot of years, but now am struggling, trying to find my way. It helps to see that other folks have similar problems, that I don't have to be ashamed and hide from everyone. I'm a writer, also, and that sometimes helps. As well as walking and smiling. More later, take care, anneo
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replied October 21st, 2004
a Might-be Bi-polar Teacher
I've been a teacher for 7 years. During the first two years, I was very successful...But that may have been because I had a great principal. Then I went through a hellish situation at work and transferred to another school in the district. The next two years were okay. I was still successful but not as happy. The following year was bad. My mother died on xmas eve, leaving me in a horrible depression. The next year was even worse. I was surplussed out of my school and decided to try jr. High, where I worked for a witch. It's pretty much been a downward spiral after that initial two-year honeymoon period. I'm on a medical leave at this time. Before my mother died, I was mainly plagued by anxiety. After her death, depression became a big problem. I've seen various therapists and counselors over the years, but none of them have ever seen me as bi-polar. However, my sister thinks I am and has convinced my current therapist of that. I kind of feel like if they want me to be bi-polar (my sister and therapist, my sister being my only real family), i'll be bi-polar for them. I dread going back to my job. The witch principal from last year left and was replaced by another principal whom i've worked for before. I had no problems with him in the past, but he betrayed my trust in him and was the catalyst that pushed me over the edge. In the meantime, because i'm single, i'm relying on my sister for help. Her husband sees me only in dollars and cents. If I have this serious psychiatric condition, which will prevent me from having a "normal" life, what is the point? Especially when my family causes me more stress, and I don't have a spouse to rely on.
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replied February 13th, 2016
Sounds like a lot of medicalizing strong emotions, which works sometimes. I used to do the same thing and it incapacitated me. Every day had to be rated on mood charts for bipolarity degrees. It felt like I couldn't have a single emotion without it being a red alert. Finally I found a cognitive behavioral therapist who returned me to the poetry of the soul by allowing me to say words like grief, sadness, loss, kindness, fear, hope, enthusiasm, equanimity and to become an observer of my own mind. I never dropped the meds. Lethal if you're BP I. She saved my career. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
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replied October 31st, 2004
Teacher Also
I have not been successful at keeping a full-time position so I have substituted for years.

I love teaching and the students love me.

Oh but the way I put myself down is just unfair. Embarassed

i got all this education and have never even attempted being a full time teacher after only one year of full time work. It just was so difficult for me to "hold it together".

I always wondered why the district did not take my suggestion to team teach with another person. We could cover for each other.

You gals are right in there with me. I just took the pressure off me by teaching as a sub.

Ruby
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replied February 13th, 2016
The district probably would have to pay two salaries instead of one for team teaching. You're not necessarily bipolar to be burnt out after one year. Nationally 17% leave in the first 5 years. Great teaching models have new teachers get mentor teachers. Did you get one? Some districts can still afford this.
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replied December 30th, 2004
Jessie,
all I can say is.Wow-over-achiever huh? It must feel so lonely for you or anyone on here w/bi-polar disorder! I don't know much about it or the right meds for it but maybe people w/the disorder can find a local place to get together and talk not only about the problems but to help get out of the house for fresh air? Just a thought:) I know by reading these messages,it sounds that getting out sometimes can be hard? Maybe you can try it out for once a week or month to start? Take care and have a nice day.Smile:)
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replied May 25th, 2011
I have had this condition since I was a teenager, of course there was no help then. I could not understand why some days I felt fine and some days I was enraged. I have done a lot of stupid things during this time. The medicines are worse than the condition.Lately, however, in a support group I was told to try equine therapy. I cannot express the positive change it has made for me.I too am a teacher and do not have a job because my principal was not a good instructional leader. I received no help from him. But riding a horse, well I cannot explain or understand the positive effects it gives me.My meds have been cut back and I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Try looking it up and see what you think.
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replied January 18th, 2005
Wanna Be Teacher
Jess, I am wanting to study to be a teacher but I am a hermit. In fact I just posted asking the question if anyone else has social intereactions issues too. I just helped out at my kids school christmas party (kindergarden), I do well with kids....Its the other mothers and fathers I had issues with. I just don't know how to interact with adults. I feel they see me as weird. I used to want so much out of life..Had that over-achiever attitude but have sunk down to only going out when it is absolutely necessacery. I have no friends in the real world this computer is my friend and even then I have issues interacting. I am a military wife and just feel lost in this new world. If you want a pen pal trust me you have one in me. I could use all the friends I can get
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replied January 23rd, 2005
Experienced User
Bipolar Boyfriend Is So Smart, a Genius Iq, But...
I am not a teacher
my boyfriend has bipolar disorder and I am not just saying this,
he is the smartest man I know, ( I know lots of people) he could be a phenomonal teacher, professor...

The aspect that made me attracted to this man, is his intelligence
he knows so much about a zillion different topics. It is unreal.
He knows about government, full names of people and their political postion, or slant, their job senators, congress, on and on. Computers,etc

he knows history,
he has soulutions to our socials security that he said a year ago, and now on some political shows, I hear these "experts" discuss exactly what my boyfriend said!

His iq is in the genius level. He is way so smart, knows about medication and reactions for, anxiety, depression, bipolar, he is a walking pdr!

It is such a shame, how intelligent he is, how much he has to offer the world, he is so insecure, I don't understand.
When he is upset, or nervous, he becomes such a jerk, name calling, cursing, he throws the portable phone across the room when he gets an upseting phone call. When he thinks someone 'did him wrong', well even if he is wrong, he will make your life a living he_ _

the contrast between two sides of him, how nice, a love bug, most brillant man ever!
And yet he can snap and turn mean and cruel the next moment...

It must be so frustrating to be so smart and to have this disorder
bless you all, thank you all for sharing your stories, you all are so wonderful for sharing and being great teachers!
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replied February 13th, 2016
Your description reminds me of an ex boyfriend I had. Brilliant man. It started to end when I was afraid of his temper. Plus, he was very selfish. I am generous and deserve someone generous. I hope he is good to you.
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replied July 11th, 2008
Bipolar teacher
Hi,
I just accidently came across the website after trying to find someone to share about being a school teacher with bipolar. I have only just been diagnosed with bipolar 2 although I have probably had it all my life and didn't know it as the history of my life fits bipolar like a hand to a glove.
I have been teaching 10 years and have now come to the conclusion that I can no longer be a teacher due to my illness. I have been struggling with this issue immensely and my moods have gone all over the place except for the medication which has somewhat stabilised me. I am currently seeking some payout which will enable me and my family to survive at least hopefully until I can live some kind of normality in my life. I felt so at home reading the other letters from other teachers who have bipolar. It is so good to know there are other people who can relate to what I'm currently going through which is undescribable. The hardest thing is finding decent specialist who can try and understand that we are genuine real people who have an illness and that we are not just trying to escape their world and how they (people who have never experienced bipolar) percieve the world to be. As I know as I'm sure all other bipolar sufferers know their world and ours are poles apart. I ahve so much to share I dont know where to begin
Mal
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replied February 13th, 2016
Teaching, especially in low performing underfunded schools, is incredibly stressful. There is a reason most people have great respect for the profession! I know a teacher who had a diagnosis of bipolar II until she left the profession and the symptoms melted away. There are so many other jobs that are less stressful than the pressure of molding other people's children into good citizens on your own!
As far as a good specialist goes, my heart was saved by a mindfulness based cognitive behavioral psychologist. Before that I was just surviving on meds. Good luck!
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replied July 12th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
Any of you can private message me if you need to talk or vent or discuss bipolar disorder. I do not have bipolar disorder but have children that do and have been dealing with this disorder for several years. The best to all of you!
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replied July 16th, 2008
I am a teacher also
I am new to teaching, 2 years. I found out I was bipolar in 2006 on month later I was kicked out of my house. I filed for divorce, got pregnant, moved to a new state, and started a new career. I tend to do things very impulsively. After two years in the new state I have finally made a friend or I thought. He was very sweet and I could talk with him. We got very close one night and I felt bad but talked with him about it and everything seemed okay. Now a month later he does not want anything to do with me. He is afraid I want a serious relationship. I don't think that is what I am after but I do what a friendship. I am so lonely and I think that is why I did what I did. I have a 2 year old daughter and I don't want her to get the impression that mommy can't have friends but I never seem able to keep them. I think I ask to much of their time? I don't know but I really miss this friend and I told him I was bipolar but never had the chance to help him understand what bipolar is. Does anyone else have problems with relationships. Do you do things you regret? I also have a hard time keeping a job more than 2 years. I hate that I am like this but I can't seem to fix it. I worry about my daughter growing up with me like this. Any advise?
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replied February 13th, 2016
Yes, I was very impulsive. Noticing it is the first step to planning ahead for handling the behavior, so good job!
If you are teaching, then you should have mental health benefits. Thank your union and talk to a professional!
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replied July 17th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
I can feel your pain. I was a couselor trainie for mental health and addiction and recovery at the same time having an achololic mom and husband. It is not an easy stream to cross over. Many rocks and rapid waters ahead. I know what you are going thourgh. Although, I had to retire early due to illness from hospital and mental health, in a way I am blessed because I can deal with my own problems now with an open mind and not bring my clients or patients problems home with me.
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replied August 6th, 2008
Bipolar teacher also
hi every one,
let me intronduce my bipolar historic first:
1993
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I was working in a job with a lot of pressure, just finished the university, my first major depression episode came up, as result was to quit in fall from my job, using as excuse that i had to do my millitary service, i stayed in depression state until 1994 and i did my millitary service with almost no problems.
1996
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I was working in company with a lot of pressure, second major depression episode, as result was to quit again and stayed in depression till the spring of 1997 when i got my dreamed job in a big company..
1997
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summer of 1997, not really pressure, but i had some problems with collegues, my first maniac episode came up, i was fired from my dreaned job.. i was 28 years old, i saw life to get rough with me, i visited a psychiatrist, she said dont worry you ll be ok(i was not in mania phase, i was in depression phase), i drifted to europe to find something to do but i was depressed so i came back to my country..
Fall of 1998
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im starting to work as a teacher in high schools, it was hard in the beginning cause i was still depressed, but i fighted it and became childrens' most popular and beloved teacher in every school that i was.
I almost put away my episodes, i thought that a new era opened for me, i thought i was normal, i thought..
summer of 2007
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i was teaching in the same school for 5 years sucessfully, the principle was no good for me anyway but i could handle it, some financial problems seemed to be settled but a second job was always in my mind these 5 years, actually i tried some projects to get an extra income but i just lost my time and what else, a five years relationship was finishing.
So the school was closed for the summer holiday but my second HUGE maniac episode came up:
drugs, alcohol, payed love, violent behavor, scaring calls to friends, relatives and collegues, i even called my parents cursing them, i threaten the principal of my school about his family, completely paranoid for 2 months.. of course i didnt go at school in the beginning of school year.
My parents finally put me in a mental clinic and saved my job till now.. I stayed there for one month with a lot of meds, i tried a suicide there, but i didnt try enough.
They gave me 2 months off after the clinic and after that i was put in another school as secretary. Im still in the depression phase, i diagnosed as bipolar(finally), i see my therapist every month and im getting my pills every day.
I have 4 friends left from my destroyed social life, my financials are almost completely ruined cause of the huge amounts that i was spenting using my credit cards during my maniac episode, i was living alone or with a girlfriend since 18, now in my 38 years my mother and my father are visiting and staying often at my flat, im not in mood to date, to meet people.
At September i have to go back to my old school and to face people that i behaved to them like a jerk, i dont know what will be happened finally with my collueges and/or with the children(i never had a serious problem with them). Im afraid and i feel shame about myself.
I guess that I have to get my pieces together(one more time) and to give myself another chance(one more time)

Many Thanks To All People In This Forum tiphat
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replied February 13th, 2016
I am very moved by your story and can relate to some of the shocking mania and its devastation.
I wish I knew which school was so ready to give you a second chance! I would love to have that chance if I ever lost it while working as a teacher.
I asked forgiveness from my college and coach which had expelled me. I don't know about you, but I wrote a letter first. I'm more of a writer than speaker. To ask for forgiveness from them first you must forgive yourself. Mania is not your fault.
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replied August 6th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
The local chapter of NAMI may be helpful to anyone looking for help, guidance, friends, and information:

http://www.nami.org/

It's a national organization but they have local chapters and people meet and learn. I work with individuals with mental illnesses and they all speak highly of NAMI.

(I am not associated with NAMI in any way.)
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replied September 1st, 2008
Hello everyone,
today was my first day in the school that i worked for 5 years before my manic episode, all my collegues know that i had a mental problem, they dont know details. god, was something like going for execution, before i go to school. my collegues behaved to me like to be ok without strange looks, strange questions, strange behavior and actually they made me feel much better. for a few days we gonna do some secretary support jobs before we gonna start enter to class. hope that gonna make feel more comfortable because even they didnt show anything to me, is very hard to work somewhere where your collegues know that you have mental problems. anyway the big first step has done and now im waiting the second big step which is starting enter class. Rolling Eyes
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replied September 1st, 2008
Experienced User
athena
First, let me suggest a new therapist. It sounds to me as if maybe you are just depressed, anxious, ect. Please, do not take this the wrong way. Tow years ago, I lost my son. He was a year old. Prior to that, I lost 2 grandfathers and a grandmother. I was very close to them. I also had severe issues with a unit administrator (my husband was in army reserves) and I still do. I threatened to kill him. So, maybe you don't have bi-polar. My therepist ruled that out quickly for me. But, I still have a hard time with being around adults. Children, I love, but right now, it's hard for me to be with them too. I am teaching Sunday school and I have twin 5 year olds. I am trying to get my love for kids back.

To everyone else: What is bi-polar. I have a neighbor who states she has it. And she's on disability for it too. She's a pest. She comes up at midnight "just to talk". She was up everyday, buying my children things, having them come down to bake with them, ect. She flips out big time when someone upsets her. She goes to the office 3-5 times a day because she's "lonely". (We live in an apartment complex) We aren't the only ones she "latches" too either. She spends money like she's rich, she lives in a fantasy world. I don't think it's bi-polar because I knew someone who has it and the way she acts is definitely not the way this other woman acted. (She worked in a medical office with me) Can someone educate me please. This girl really scares me and I refuse to let my girls alone with her. She can't understand it, but I'm afraid of her going off if I try. We threatened to press stalking charges on her if she didn't quit. She cried and asked what she did. She is not aware of how she is. Any thoughts from anyone?????
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replied December 22nd, 2008
Don't Tell
My advice to any teacher.....don't tell. Ever. I learned the hard way. If you reveal the diagnosis, you will not work again in education. I was a very successful teacher in a state that does not have a strong teacher's union. I worked for 16 years and had a reputation for being a great teacher and received very high evaluations. I had never experienced any problems in getting a job. However, after I let my superintendent of our small school system know, I have been blacklisted. No one will even interview me for a teaching position. Strangely enough, no one would have ever known because the medication worked well. Don't trust anyone with your secret. It is a shame we must live in the dark, but we live in a society that believes what the mainstream media reports on the people who act out and do awful things when ill and unmedicated.
If had not married after this incident, I would be living on the streets at the age of 62. I miss working with children....this was my life. I will never be able to live off the retirement I earned without completing the necessary years to draw full employment benefits.
Just don't tell anyone....that is the safest way if you wish to continue to teach. And I can say this even though I have a Master's in Counseling. Just don't talk to ANYONE other than a professional counselor not associated with your school or trusted family members.
I only wish someone had told me....I was not ashamed of being bipolar and now I am.
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replied May 25th, 2011
Sorry to hear you had all the problems. I understand, I did the same. Even my family does not understand. I guarentee you that if this was physical intead of mental the outcome would have been differnt. BP is a disease but not excepted as one. Individuals feel you are dangerous and do not want you working with children. I find this unacceptable
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replied July 28th, 2012
sorry 2 hear u had so much trouble
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replied July 29th, 2016
I understand that for most telling is probably not advised. Kind of sad that this is the case. The legislation introduced by Patrick Kennedy may help. It states that brain illnesses should be treated the same as other parts of the body. I told my principal two years ago after an bipolar episode that I had the same issues as Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy has Bipolar Disorder. Not sure, but maybe this helped, because not only did I keep my job, but many of the staff and administrators were nice about it. Unfortunately, I had another episode at the end of this school year - nothing to bad on campus - just got off topic a few times, then went on leave. I have recovered, but we will see how this time goes with a new principal. I feel that understanding is sometimes accepted once, but maybe not twice or three times, etc. which is just the nature of this illness. Yeah each time I have an episode it is better, but it is still not tolerated by most people, and it takes a benevolent principal to help those of us with the illness out. My opinion. We have an obligation to give all people a chance. If a person is trying their best and capable they should have their job. If they get sick they should go on leave until they are capable again. My guess is that I will go back to my school, but I will have some pressure to perform and I will be monitored more. Seems fair enough.
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replied December 22nd, 2008
concerned
I have wanted to be a teacher since I was little. I'm going to college soon and I'm planning on getting a degree in education. I was diagnosed with bi-polar when I was 13. I never thought that it would really effect me all that negatively but after reading this I'm getting worried. Is it possible to be a teacher with bi-polar, should I try to pursue a career in education or should I decide to go into another field before its too late?
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replied December 23rd, 2008
Experienced User
summerlyric
OMG!!!! I am so sorry for the way society treats people. It sounds as if you would be a teacher I would love my kids to have. They are twins and are developmentally behind. They younger twin is also still physically behind. They are 6 and I was told that they should be caught up by now. They k-teacher caught all this and we had a meeting. They won't retest them. They just feel that they will learn as they go. So, it's left up to me to teach at home double. I don't have much teaching to do this. Again, I am so sorry. katch
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replied December 23rd, 2008
teaching triggered mania
I went into a major mania that eventually required hospitalization when taking on a long term sub job under really stressful circumstances (like no lesson plans and a lot of special needs kids mixed in.) It was like a flip switched the day I accepted the responsibility. The Principal said he wished he could hire me full time, but I don't have a current full license.

After about 5 weeks, I stopped sleeping. I didn't have an actual diagnosis at that time and was waiting to get in with a doctor, but the lack of sleep caused me such anxiety, I took myself to the hospital as soon as Christmas break started. That was three years ago.

Now I sub and am currently PTO President at my kid's school. People keep asking me why I don't teach full time or apply for the secretary job there. They all think I would be so great. The biggest problem is the crash that happens after a manic episode. I can be out of action for several months, and they don't always correlate with the school year. I have kids of my own, and it's all I can do to run them around and sub sometimes.

Before my big breakdown (and sometimes since,) my husband was pushing me to get a full time job. I looked into getting my full time license, etc. I am still trying to get through a whole year without a major depression, and it makes going back to school to get the credits I need impossible. Plus, I don't want to do it. I don't want the stress to overwhelm me again. If I could get through a year or two without any major episodes, I might consider it. I'm just not stable enough to work on it right now.

I'm like a lot of you, was cruising through life, overachieving, then wham bam.

My cousin is the opposite. She was manic at 18 and got that all straightened out and is living a normal life now. Maybe the prognosis is better if you catch the problem earlier.

When I was first diagnosed, I read that the average time to get medication straight (and consequently life back on track) was four years. It's hard to believe it will ever be "normal" while you are going through the process.
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replied February 13th, 2016
I believe depression is always more than just getting the meds straight. There is so much culture working against women to live without shame. I had to become an observer of my own thoughts before I had a real chance at stability and self-compassion. How? Through Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Google it.
In the meantime, enjoy your sub days! I actually think day to day subbing is much more stressful than long term.
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Tags: Bipolar, ADHD
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