For several months I found myself searching the Internet for topics relating to “mental illness and losses.” I was not exactly sure what was going on but after several weeks I realized I was in a grieving process with regard to having my life change from bipolar disorder. I was looking for some other stories out there about people who had been through major life changes because of their mental illness. I wanted to know how the illness had impacted them and what they did to deal with those losses.
I found a lot of general information about how mental illness can affect your job, relationships and your economic status. I also found several people on the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance site who had recovered and were working again in various careers. “But what about people like me?” I thought. Where are the people who are grieving the loss of careers and relationships? What did they do to recover? How did they do it?
After several searches I found a YouTube video of a presentation by Dr. Ken Druck. He was presenting for the International Bipolar Foundation. The talk was about grief and losses pertaining to the caretakers of bipolar disorder folks. But as I listened I realized I could relate to various things.
I learned grief, while certainly painful, is a very healthy response to loss of any kind. This can even include the loss of dreams you might be striving for. In my case I was grieving for loss of my life, as I once knew it, which included lots of great relationships and an awesome career. I kept listening very intently and found that even though there is the well-known Kuebler Ross grief process, grieving in and of itself is not linear. And eventually we can heal.
The best part about the video is that I actually had the acknowledgement I had been looking for; it is perfectly “normal” to grieve the losses from mental illness. At last I found a voice out there that resonated with me. Now I could start taking action to help myself heal.
I believe whole heartily in recovering from mental illness, but I also know when things get tough and symptoms break through the road is much more difficult than it seems. Grief can be a trigger for depression so that makes it much more difficult to process when you have bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder. This is one of the reasons why finding the information on the YouTube video was so helpful for me. It gave me a sense of relief knowing that what I was experiencing actually had a name and now I could understand why I was searching for information to help relieve some of my pain.
If you have experienced losses because of a mental illness you might want to check out the video “Bipolar Lecture by Ken Druck.” (This is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XBbDnb1z3w). I also bought Dr. Druck’s book and have been reading it. It’s called “The Real Rules of Life” and deals with several topics related to understanding and dealing with “what is.” I found it very helpful.