The Grieving Process of My Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

After my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, it took me many years before I fully accepted I had this life-changing mental illness.

The first step in any recovery is acceptance. I realized I had to accept the truth of the reality of my illness before I could be ready to seek the necessary treatments to start the recovery process. I had to be ready to fight and heal my pain and internal mental scars.

I wish my acceptance of bipolar disorder would have been automatic and not taken so many years because then I think my life could have improved sooner.

To begin to accept my bipolar disorder I had to go through a grieving process, which took me a long time. It was a painful process and journey for me.

1. Denial  I do not have bipolar disorder. I do not have a mental illness. You are wrong. I do not want this. I can still teach and do everything I used to do. I am the same good person. I am a great person so I cannot have this illness.

2. Anger – When I was first diagnosed, I was very ill from the side effects of the medications they were giving me and other reasons as well. I did not understand what was happening to me. This caused me to have a lot of anger. I blamed everyone around me and basically hated everyone, especially if they tried to help me. I was not a good patient at all, and I tried to fight everything they said and did to me when they tried to help me. I lashed out at others and made people feel bad. I have guilt for some of my past behaviors when I was first diagnosed, as I acted horribly. I felt like a horrible person at the time of my initial diagnosis. Ugh! My anger was very painful and intense.

3. Bargaining – Why me? If I stop taking all of my medications I will be “normal” again and I will be fine. I will show everyone they are wrong. If I stop taking my medications and stay away from all medical care, psychiatrists and hospitals and go back to my life the way it was before, everything will be OK. I will show everyone I am fine.

Going off all my medications was a bad idea because after a couple of years of not taking my medications and not receiving any help or support I had a full blown manic episode which lasted about a year. Because my episode caused me to become so severely ill I had to receive medical help again and have continued it ever since.

4. Depression – I realized the true magnitude of the loss of myself and loss of my life the way it once was. Everything changed for me. My old life was permanently gone with bits and pieces still hanging on but not many. I had no more control in my life. People were telling me how to live and who I had become. One doctor told me I would never be the same again but they could get me to live a functional life. What? That sounded like a death sentence to me, and it was like a death sentence for many years, as I tried to end my life many times. My life was put into a survival mode with doctors and professionals basically just trying to save me. I was not living, but I was trying to find a new way to survive for years. I thought: I am sick. My mental pain is horrific. They give me medication that gives me severe side effects and adverse reactions that I do not like and that change my personality. I have no friends, and I am so lonely. No one likes me or even wants to be around me. I am worthless. The old me is gone and died. I cannot function, move or even get out of bed. I can’t live like this anymore. My life is over. No one will even care if I am gone. I am all ready dead. I want to die.

5. Acceptance – Acceptance is the last stage of grief and the most vital and important step on the road to recovery of my bipolar disorder. The acceptance of my illness and my new life was a slow and gradual process. Things slowly started to improve and look better over time. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness, but I saw glimpses of hope and of what happiness was again. I accepted that things will never be exactly the same again. I gradually started to adjust to my diagnosis, and my changed life. My depression began to decrease in spurts but would come back periodically and ferociously at times. I began to figure out how to live with my symptoms and start living my life again. My mind started to work better, and I began to feel more normal and a part of life again. I soon began the important process and one of the most essential parts of my new life of redefining who I was.

I had to find my new identity and learn to like myself again and eventually love parts of the new me. I found a way to work part-time again in a field that suits me well by helping others in the home health field and I started going back to church. I started getting out of the house more and around other people.

I do have bipolar disorder. I do have a mental illness, and that is OK. I have a new identity and that is OK. I am still a good person. I believe God saved my life and I became born again. I am still the same person I always was but now I am a better, stronger, wiser and kinder version of  myself.

My greatest blessing is that I have always been and am still a good mom. My children were always my life support and still are. I love my three beautiful, amazing and wonderful children beyond words. I am so blessed to be able to be their Mommy. Thank you, God.

Sometimes I still grieve parts of the “old” me and think about what my life could have been. I try to block those moments of memories of my past out of my head, as the past is the past, and I try very hard not to live there. I try to live in this very minute and moment one day at a time.

I never thought I would have a mental illness, but I do and I must strive to make the best of my illness and always strive to be the best person I can be and become. It is a never-ending battle of struggles, growth and discovery and acceptance of the new me every day.

I have found joy in the experience of living.

~written by Susan Walz

“Don’t wait. Make memories. Celebrate your life.” — unknown

Copyright © 2018 Susan Walz | | All Rights reserved


18 thoughts on “The Grieving Process of My Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

  1. When I was diagnosed 18 months ago, my response was different to yours. I was both relieved and even delighted. I had always known something wasn’t right but it took 25 years to get the diagnosis. For me it meant that it wasn’t just a bunch of character flaws, that I could explain why I acted the way I did. I’m still struggling with depression, anxiety etc. but at least I have a chance of understanding it. But whatever your journey with Bipolar, it’s a tough one and I wish you the very best with yours. Thanks for your honesty! X

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome and I am happy that you got the diagnosis you deserve. It does help to know what is going on. I think my problem was that I was in denial that there was anything wrong with me. I was okay with the initial diagnosis of postpartum depression but beyond that. NOPE. Now I have finally wholeheartedly accepted it and do everything I can to help others and educate others about it. It helps me to help others. l do not want people to make the same mistakes I did. It was 25 years ago and maybe the stigma was worse then. It is still bad but maybe it is better than it was 25 years ago when I got diagnosed. I know people were not talking about it AT ALL back then. At least not people I knew. I hope you keep getting better and doing well. Thank you so much for your wonderful insight and sharing your story. It means a lot to me. Hugs, Sue


  2. It’s wonderful that you keep fighting. Having been touched by someone who didn’t, I’m sure everyone you love is grateful every day that you’re still there, still strong, still very much a part of their lives. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry that you knew someone that couldn’t keep fighting. I am blessed because God continues to save my life and He has blessed me greatly with three of the most amazing children in the world. I must keep fighting. I am doing quite well right now. That is another reason I share my story to let people know there is hope and recovery is possible. I am living proof of that. Thank you for your great feedback. I appreciate it greatly. Hugs, Sue

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your feedback. I agree wholeheartedly with you. I think you are correct and I think people do forget this important aspect of recovery. We do need to grieve. A part of your life is lost no matter what. The beautiful and essential key to recovery is accepting the losses and realizing you can redefine your life and who you are. You can live a happy and purposeful life. Recovery is possible and I am living proof of that. Hugs, Sue

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. I appreciate your great feedback. I am sorry your son is struggling with depression. Acceptance is very difficult. I hope he will be able to accept it soon. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental illness is not a character flaw and is not who he is but is only a part of who he is. Recovery and living a happy and purposeful life are possible. I am living proof of that. It gets better. It really does. Hugs, Sue

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this with the world. As someone who had a hard time accepting the same diagnosis, I feel for you, but am so thrilled to hear that you have accepted yourself. It’s not what makes us who we are; we are still good people.

    Much love,

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: The Grieving Process of My Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis — The Bipolar Writer Blog – A Mental Health Blog – Journey to Kaitie

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