*The statements made here are just friendly advice, things I have picked up and should not be used as a diagnoses or in place of your doctors orders.
Alright so here's what I have to say. To all my people who have a mental illness, addiction, disorder and/or disability:
After you have been diagnosed, own it. It's yours more than likely for life. However, you are not your diagnosis, you are still you. But just like you may have brown hair and blue eyes you also have _____. The sooner you own it the better. I spent a lot of wasted time trying to convince myself I wasn't an addict with cigarettes, that I wasn't an alcoholic and that my bipolar really wasn't *that* bad.
Next spend a little time wallowing in self pity. Woe is me, my life sucks I have ____ and it isn't fair. You are so right, it isn't fair, life can suck. Don't wallow too long. I will tell you why next. It is good to do this part though, I think, because it is a valid feeling. Let's call it "the mourning process". Mourn the loss of "normalcy" whatever that may be.
Ok now get over it. Be done with the mourning. It sucks but you are still you and you are still in control. Don't let this dominate you. We are somewhat back to "own it". The difference being here is that this is where you come to terms with, this is for life. There is no magic solution, drink, pill, or procedure that will cure you of this. I will have alcoholism from now until the day I die, hopefully well into my 90's. I will wake up every day wanting a drink, I will fight it during the day when I see a billboard, a commercial, going to a social outing with people who drink and I will lay my head down at night wanting that one last drink. Don't lie to yourself and say, "It'll get easier." or "This can't last forever." That sets you up for failure. It doesn't get easier BUT it doesn't get any harder either. You can learn to live like this and live a happy, fulfilled life. It's not the end of the world.
Now that you own it, it doesn't own you, you have said good bye to your old life and old ways, you know this is an on going battle, here comes the hard part. Seriosuly. ASK FOR HELP! This is in all CAPS because the wonderful men in my life have a very hard time with this. I understand. We as a society have "told" men to ; suck it up, never let them see you cry, show no emotion, etc. Men are supposed to be stoic, work hard and provide for their families without complaint or ever breaking down. Yeah right. You are human beings and in case you haven't noticed women are taking over the work force and men are becoming stay at home dads, the domestic type. Ask for help. If you are having an episode or feel you need to drink pick up the nearest phone and dial 9-1-1. Alright get that look off your face. 9-1-1 is for emergencies only! Yep, and an alcoholic about to drink is a life or death situation. Call for help. Do it. A manic attack is a life or death situation, pick up the phone and call for help. I cannot tell you how many times while having a bad manic attack I have called 9-1-1. They ask, "Are you going to hurt yourself or anyone else?" and if you feel that you will tell them, "Yes!" don't hesitate, don't second guess it, be honest. If the answer is no, then tell them that but explain what the problem is. They will transfer you to a crisis hotline and you will instantly be in touch with someone trained to help you. If someone is near you that you feel comfortable with ask them for help. I have looked at Rodney many a time and said, "I really want a drink right now." That puts Rodney on the alert, it doesn't mean I need to talk or anything but now he knows I shouldn't go out alone, not even the store. Put your pride aside and ask for help.
Be honest. Be honest with yourself and with everyone else. This does not mean that you need to run the streets screaming I'm ____ but if you have been sober for a week and are proud, freaking shout it out to anyone who will listen. When speaking with your doctors, therapists, significant others be honest. Stop and think about exactly how you feel. Don't try to hold back how you feel out of embarrassment, fear that they won't understand, or frustration. Keep asking question until you understand but also LISTEN to the answer even if it is one you don't want to hear. Therapy can be painful because you will face your inner demons but afterward you will feel better.
Lastly, follow your treatment plan. If you are prescribed medication, take it. If you are taking it don't just stop taking it. EVER. That is very, very bad and can set you back a long way. I know sometimes it feels like life is good, you don't need them anymore, you have less stress in your life. You do need them and if you just stop taking them you more than likely will plummet into a deep, dark hole of depression. No good. If you want to stop taking you meds talk to your doctor before doing anything. They can ween you off, you can discuss it further, make other treatment plans, etc. Your doctors are professionals so try not to second guess their every decision. I'm not saying go into it blindly, research your doctor. However as with bipolar it is hard to make rational decisions, best left to the pros. I am personally going to attempt med free but this is with the help and support of my family, friends and doctors. No one specific treatment is right for everybody. If you doubt or don't trust your doctor, get a second opinion. Still do not quit taking your meds or go off your treatment plan while getting a second opinion.
I hope that advice helps someone. It's things I have picked up in my own battles with addiction to cigarettes, alcoholism and bipolar disorder. I battle with these thing daily and yet I am still so blessed. When I am down I just have to remind myself that there is an end to this, this too shall pass.