I was diagnosed bipolar 5 years ago. My life was worse than hell. Suicide was constantly on my mind. I was lost, scared, and hopeless.
I have been given a second chance at life and for this I am and will always be eternally grateful.
I have been stable for two years now. When I say stable, I mean I have lived two full years without any depression or mania. This was simply unimaginable to me a during the peak of my illness.
My life is actually normal, with normal feelings; happy and not so happy all proportional to my circumstances. Perhaps the most precious thing that I earned back is to have dreams and ambition.
My ambition is to share my healing journey with others who cannot see a way out. My dream is to tell people there is hope, and that suffering is not meant to be eternal.
My dream is a big dream and I might not be equipped to fulfil it. I don’t know where and how to start and I let go of it many times. Just yesterday as I started writing this post, I felt that whatever I will write will not make enough impact, that it will be a small drop in an endless ocean…
I was happily surprised when I accidentally met two brilliant women, friends of friends during dinner later that evening. With small talk we started with the usual questions, and it led to the dreadful “so, what do you do?”.
I was never really good at coming up with a good answer to this simple question. I am a full time mother (yes, a stay at home mum), a psychologist (yes, I don’t practice anymore), and an occasional writer (yes, hence this blog).
I was asked about what type of writing I do and I always worry that I will be sharing too soon with strangers the very special nature of my blog. I worry that this would be seen depressing or simply uninteresting. But no, the universe sent me a clear message yesterday in the midst of my doubt. When I started describing my blog as a place where I write about my journey as a psychologist who has survived bipolar disorder, they wanted to learn more. A few minutes down, I tell them about levothyroxine and how it saved my life. It figures that both women have issues with their thyroid – and accordingly clearly understood me and my journey.
To be honest, 9 out of 10 times when I tell people about my blog, they start sharing with me their own mental health issues- or those of loved ones. No one is “safe” anymore. Unfortunately, the hype behind “getting help” does not really help everyone. Many psychologists tackle issues that seem important on the surface and fail to see the real problem. Not to mention psychiatrists that over prescribe and misdiagnose. It is a shame really.
When I mention that psychiatry as practiced today is an obsolete science, it resonates with most of people. When I talk about my experience with antidepressants, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics; people draw parallels. When I say that no one understood me at the time, or knew what was wrong with me, they relate.
When I tell them that bipolar 2 is a biological problem with psychiatric symptoms, I get their full attention. When I tell them that I quit all psychotropics, and now only take levothyroxine, they are in disbelief. And finally, when they know the very high dose I am on, they are in awe. ￼
I cannot say it loud enough, please don’t embark on the journey of taking psychotropics before you are a million and one percent sure you have exhausted all other options. Even then, read and ask questions. Make sure you educate yourself and know what current research says.
Join forums and follow blogs, listen to yourself and to fellow sufferers. Not all advise is medical grade, yes we can’t trust anyone, but stay open to new ways of healing. Many things won’t work with you, maybe the majority won’t, but you will find a way out.
Never give up. Set up email alerts for your disease and read them all religiously. Get the latest books and ask family or friends to read and summarise for you. Write your symptoms and your medication. Take notes of what works and what doesn’t. Believe that you can be better, even better than before.
To all my community, thank you for supporting me through out these tough moments. Thank you for being there listening to my rumbling mind that was faster than the speed of light. Thank you for not letting me end my life, for it is indeed beautiful. Thank you for trusting me that orthodox psychology and psychiatry were never the solution. Thank you for bringing my smile back. Thank you for allowing me to have dreams again.
Special thanks (not in order of importance or love): Hassan El Shabrawishi– my beloved husband and father of my two beautiful children. You are my beacon of hope, my rock, my inspiration and my magician. No words can describe how much I love you and how lucky I am to to have crossed your path 24 years ago. Ahmed Loutfy– my adored father: you have listened to me, believed in me and helped me every single day ever since. You are a living example of unconditional love. I am blessed and honoured to be your daughter. Doctor Andy Zamar– my brilliant psychiatrist: I owe you every single happy moment in my life since the day I met you; may you always find joy and peace of mind. Fatma Hamdy– my one of a kind mother in law: without your prayers I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thank your for never judging me. My friends– you were not only there for me but for my children, I love you for believing in me and never pitying me. I always saw myself the same in your eyes. My children– my illness robbed us too many days. Ever since, I make sure to be fully present, enjoy you, and watch you grow into two exceptional human beings.
Thank you ❤️