Stories of Bipolar Misdiagnosis - Colleen

Colleen lived with manic-depression for 14 years before being correctly diagnosed. Read about the devastation caused by an incorrect diagnosis.

Bipolar NOT Depression

by Colleen
August 1, 2005

I'm 30, but my bipolar symptoms started becoming disruptive to my life at about 15 years of age. I am intensely private and was able to hide my problems and difficulties for quite awhile. Last summer, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder; so I lived with manic-depression for about 14 years before I was correctly diagnosed.

Sadly, I even went to my doctor and asked about bipolar 5 years before my diagnosis, but he said I had depression.

The Devastation Caused By An Incorrect Diagnosis

Bipolar has brought me to the brink of total destruction and it has been a hard fight back. Because of my craziness during those years, I lost my home, my marriage, declared bankruptcy, was suicidal, sexually promiscuous (which thankfully didn't lead to unplanned pregnancy or disease), legal problems, lost countless jobs, drove dear friends away, and almost lost my children.

I often wonder if going undiagnosed/misdiagnosed for so many years led to my condition being more devastating than it would have been had my condition been recognized sooner.

I think my children have suffered more than anyone and I feel terrible for that. Every day is a struggle with them because my level of "normal" is harder than most people's. It takes a firm routine and a will of steel to stay on track.

A Correct Diagnosis Makes A World of Difference

I am now on a combination of bipolar medications. They do help a lot. I went through years of therapy when they thought I was depressed and although it helped a bit, therapy alone can't control mania.

Luckily, I now have a wonderful doctor and counselor who help me every step of the way and I am slowly rebuilding. I have been living in a place of my own with my young children for a year now. I hold a full-time job again and pay my bills. These are all huge steps for me. However, I can never undo the damage to friendships, my marriage, my children, my university courses, job history, and my credit rating.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 1). Stories of Bipolar Misdiagnosis - Colleen, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: January 10, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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