The Day I Was Diagnosed As Bipolar
Stand-up comedian Paul Jones discusses his feelings after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and how the official bipolar diagnosis changed his life.
Personal Stories on Living with Bipolar Disorder
What were your feelings when you were "officially" diagnosed as having Bipolar I Disorder? How did the "official" diagnosis change your life, good or bad?
I was sitting in my office and was having very heavy thoughts of suicide - so heavy, in fact, that I had made a plan and was ready to carry it out. You see, I was going to come into my office and take an overdose of sleeping pills. I had everything planned out and was convinced that it was the only way to stop all of the pain that I was in. I was unable to write, I was not able to sleep, even though that's all I wanted to do. I was not able to finish any projects that I had going on.
Well, anyway, at some point, I looked up at the picture of my three children sitting on top of my computer table and thought to myself that this was the stupidest thing I would ever think of. What would they think of their father? I picked up the phone and called home and told my wife to get me in to see our family doctor. In a normal situation it would take three to four days to get in to see him. However, when Lisa called, they said that they had a cancellation and that I could get in at 1:30 p.m. I think that it was about 11:00 a.m. when I locked up the office and went home to wait for the appointment. I remember telling my wife that I could no longer take the pain and I wanted to end this whole thing.
When I showed up to the Doctor's office, it took every ounce of energy that I had to sit and wait in the waiting room. It seemed like I was sitting for hours, but in reality it was probably 30 minutes or so. One of the toughest things for me to realize was the fact that I could not handle this whole thing myself. You see, I have always been a person that fixed problems. I was the one that people would come to to make things better and here I was, unable to fix myself. All I could think of was that I was "weak" and nothing more than a big "sissy". Why was it that I could not stop all these thoughts of suicide? Why is it that other people could handle life and I was now unable to handle any part of it?
So, I got to the Doctor's office and Mark walked in. He asked me how I was feeling and then had me fill out a questionnaire for Bipolar Disorder. After answering, "yes" to all of the questions and telling him how I felt and the thoughts that had been going through my head for so many years, he told me that I was "Bipolar I". After he explained what that meant, I think I just sat and stared at him. It felt like I had said nothing for 15 minutes, but I am sure that it was only seconds.
I asked him what my options were and he told me that he wanted to put me on Celexa (citalopram hydrobromide) and see how I reacted to that. Needless to say, when I walked out of his office I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. As I look back now, I think it was something as simple as knowing that I was ill and not that I was "crazy" or "strange". You see, I think that when you know something is wrong with you, yet you don't actually know what it is, your mind can play a lot of tricks on you. It is amazing what thoughts go through your mind and why you are sitting wondering what your problem is. I had, for years, thought that I was manic-depressive, but without a doctor telling me that I was, I would simply go through each day wondering.
As soon as I got home and told my wife what the doctor had said, I went to the pharmacy and got my pills. It was funny - as happy as I was knowing that I was now able to put a name to the problem, getting those pills was very hard for me. Now I had to admit and face the music that I was sick. What would I tell my family? What would I tell people that I worked with, or should I even try to tell them? What was I going to tell my children and would they understand what I was saying to them?
I remember going home with pills in hand and going downstairs and getting on the Internet to read up on my "new found illness".
I can actually say that at times I wish I was never told that I was Bipolar. For some reason, it is now more of an issue to me knowing that I am sick. I know that, at times, when I make a decision, I find myself wondering whether or not I am making it or my illness is making it. At times I get angry at something and find myself wondering yet again if my anger is really from me or is it from the illness.
Like many with this illness, I have shared it with family and friends, and I cannot help but wonder if they look at me differently because of it. All in all, I would have to say that I am glad that I now know what is wrong with me, and only time will tell as to the full effects of knowing. I guess I would say that my life has changed somewhat for the better, but I do, at times, wish that I was still going through life as just "plain old carefree Paul Jones".
Read more about the author, Paul Jones on page 2 of this article.
Paul Jones, a nationally touring stand-up comedian, singer/songwriter, and businessman, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in August 2000, just a short 3 years ago, although he can trace the illness back to the young age of 11 years old. Coming to grips with his diagnosis has taken many "twists and turns" not only for him, but also for his family and friends.
One of Paul's main focuses now is to educate others as to the effects this illness can have not only on those who suffer from bipolar disorder, but also the effects it has on those around them - the family and friends who love and support them. Stopping the stigma associated with any mental illness is paramount if proper treatment is to be sought by those that may be affected by it.
Paul has spoken at many high schools, universities, and mental health organizations as to what it's like to, "Work, Play, and Live with Bipolar Disorder."
Paul invites you to Walk the Path of Bipolar Disorder with him in his series of articles on Psychjourney. You are also cordially invited to visit his website at www.BipolarBoy.com.
Purchase his book, Dear World: A Suicide Letter
Book Description: In the United States alone, bipolar disorder impacts over 2 million citizens. Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety Disorders and other mentally-related illnesses affect 12 to 16 million Americans. Mental illness is the second leading cause of disability and premature mortality in the United States. The average length of time between the onset of bipolar symptoms and a correct diagnosis is ten years. There is real danger involved in leaving bipolar disorder undiagnosed, untreated or undertreated- people with bipolar disorder who do not receive proper help have a suicide rate as high as 20 percent.
Stigma and fear of the unknown compound the already complex and difficult problems faced by those who suffer from bipolar disorder and stems from misinformation and simple lack of understanding of this disease.
In a courageous attempt to understand the illness, and in opening his soul in an attempt to educate others, Paul Jones wrote Dear World: A Suicide Letter. Dear World is Paul's "final words to the world"- his own personal "suicide letter"- but it ended up being a tool of hope and healing for all who suffer from "invisible disabilities" such as bipolar disorder. It is a must read for those suffering from this illness, for those who love them and for those professionals who have dedicated their lives to try to help those who suffer from mental illness.
Staff, H. (2008, December 21). The Day I Was Diagnosed As Bipolar, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/articles/day-i-was-diagnosed-as-bipolar