Second Chances for Life

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Idaho National Forest

Four years ago I almost lost my life because of untreated bipolar disorder.  During a manic and psychotic episode I drove 3300 miles until finally landing in the mountains, lost on foot in the Idaho National Forest.

In the middle of winter, after two days of surviving without a coat, socks or backpacking gear I was rescued by two people riding ATV’s.  I don’t think I would have survived the elements for one more day.  My only injury was dehydration and frostbite.

Because of my experience I am a person who feels very strongly about finding the right treatment regimen.  I am adamant that bipolar disorder left untreated can lead to unwanted and serious consequences.

But I can also say that it is imperative to find the right treatment team.  I was under the care of a physician and therapist at the time of my episode.  But I lost insight into my illness and then stopped all my medications.

For a very long time I blamed myself for what happened.  Then I realized that having bipolar disorder is not my fault.  Where I am accountable is making certain  I do the best job possible in managing my illness.

The first time anyone shed light on bipolar disorder signs and symptoms was in the hospital in Idaho.  I wish more treatment facilities would take the time to educate patients about their illness.  It made a world of difference to me.

This experience among others, has taught me not only about bipolar disorder but also about myself.  I learned that even in my most compromised state of mind I had the will to live.  I learned just how strong I have been.  I learned it was not my time to go.

With this second chance at life I want to make sure I help educate others about mental illness.  I want to help eliminate stigma because it dramatically affects all of us.

I also want to share I have recovered.  Even though I have been to a stage 4 mental illness I have gotten better.  I work.  Give talks.  Write.  Advocate.

No matter where you are in your struggle with mental illness, know you can get well.  It is a fight but it is possible.  I am living proof.

“Never underestimate your ability to make a difference in someone’s life.”

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2 thoughts on “Second Chances for Life

  1. I remember you writing about your experience, Amy. You are right. Before you were educated about bipolar, you were at it’s mercy, you acted on your impulses without thought of the consequences. I did too. But once we are educated we are responsible to manage our illness and we are responsible for our choices. Years ago, I used to just react to the impulses. Now I have the tools to respond in a responsible manner. Good post, Amy. Thanks for getting out there and educating people that they do have choices and can live a better life.

    Liked by 1 person

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