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I have been a survivor of Bipolar Disorder for over twenty years. I call myself a survivor because there have been many times that I allowed this disease to come close to killing me.

In hindsight, it was always there, slowly building, until it turned me into a self-medicating, selfish, wallowing hot mess. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20′s that I was ready to admit that something was seriously wrong. Even though I spent a year institutionalized as a teen (I call it my Girl, Interrupted phase) and told I was very sick, I kept my head in the sand about it for a long time.

When the suicide attempts and month-long meltdowns started coming more frequently, I had to admit that I needed help.

I have tried so many medications, I can’t even name them all. In fact, much of 2008 is a blur because I was so medicated.

What actually saved me was getting sober and realizing that I was not so much addicted to alcohol and drugs. Instead, I was addicted to myself and my disease. I am Bipolar II, which means that manic episodes are not as frequent, but they do happen and let me tell you, there isn’t a high that can make you feel so good. And for free. Hell, sign me up!

I know now that I had learned how to prolong the episodes by forcing myself to stay awake for days on end, drinking, not name it. It took a lot to admit to myself that if only I had realized this a long time ago, I may not have lost jobs, relationships and other material things.

Where would I be now? is something I had to stop asking because the guilt would eat me alive.

I am happy now; in love, and sober. It isn’t always easy, but I am learning to protect me from myself. It’s working and that is the best I can do.