Bipolar, Part II

This is the second part of a two-part conversation with George, a friend of mine with bipolar disorder. In the first part of the interview we discussed such topics as what he wished people knew about his mental illness and the darkest time of his illness. In this segment, we will discuss symptoms and medicine.

Q. What has gotten you through the rough times of having a mental illness?

A. What has helped the most is being able to spend time with my family, my friends and also spending time with people from my church. Having a strong support group and volunteering in the community has also helped me.

Q. When were you first diagnosed with your mental illness, and how long did you go before treatment?

A. I was first diagnosed with a mental illness in 1976. I feel like I have had mental health problems throughout my whole life.

Q. Who has helped you the most through your mental illness?

A. My relationship with God has helped me in life and helping me not feel like I was stuck in my situation.

Q. What is the hardest part about taking your medicine, and how do you handle the side effects?

A. Since I have taken medicine for so long, the hardest part is forgetting to take them sometimes. Because I have been on medicine for so long I donít feel the side effects of the medicine any more. When I first started taking medicine it affected me more with weight gain and tremors.

Q. Who has helped you the most through having a mental illness?

A. The people who have helped me are my friends, my family, therapy, and my church family.

Q. If there was one thing you could change about your mental illness, what would it be?

A. Not being on medication.

Q. What were the first symptoms you noticed having?

A. When I had a feeling of depression and despair in my life and when suicide was considered while I was in grade school.

Q. What is the most challenging aspect of your mental illness?

A. When people see my mental illness and they try to see me as different from everybody else in society.

Q. If you could say one thing to your family, friends or the public about your mental illness, what would you say?

A. Even though I have a mental illness, there are other areas in my life where I excel in such as creativity. For example in my hobbies I can picture and accomplish tasks that others canít see.

When asked about his bipolar, George stated that he believed the reason why he has bipolar is that he could help others going through the same illness. George mentioned that when it comes to bipolar he has been there, done that, got the T-shirt and the shirt doesnít fit.

Bipolar, like other mental illnesses can try to rob an individual from living a productive life. However through medicine, therapy and the support of others, bipolar can be managed so that an individual can live the life they want to live. Recovery is possible. Support from family, friends and the community can play a major role in helping an individual with bipolar recover from the illness that can be so devastating.

In this and other interviews to come the name of the individual has been changed. In telling others stories about mental illness, I want to tell about the struggles others have gone through in their illness. From this interview and others, may we learn that no matter if you have or donít have a diagnosis, we are still individuals living in a diverse community of people going through and sharing their stories of recovery.

Mindfulness is brought to you by NAMI Montelores, your local NAMI affiliate. NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nationís largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI recognizes that the key concepts of recovery, resiliency and support are essential to improving the wellness and quality of life of all persons affected by mental illness. NAMI provides support, education, and advocacy for individuals and families through community classes, in-service trainings, support groups, and more. For more information please contact Geri Sanders at 970-759-2416.

Randy Davis is a member of NAMI Montelores . He can be reached at

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