“I am from Michigan. I retired and moved here four years ago because my son and daughter-in-law live here. My daughter lives in New Zealand and I tried for six months to go through the hurdles of immigration and be an expat, but it was too hard. I taught my daughter she can do anything, so she is. I love it here. A doctor here also discovered that I am a bipolar and getting the right diagnosis changed my life. Before I was diagnosed, I did okay because I was put on anti-depressants for recurrent depression and could manage my life. I had a cushy life in Michigan so I didn’t have a lot of stresses. I was a stay-at-home-mom for 15 years. I was surrounded by a support system and went back to work as a speech therapist. I loved the job and could do the creative part and playing with the kids all day, but it was so hard to write the reports. I couldn’t do the paperwork if the stack got too high. I would usually quit before they fired me.
When I moved down here, it was a struggle because my support system was gone and I got one misdiagnosis after another. Every time I got the wrong diagnosis, I got the wrong medication. I couldn’t think. It was a nightmare. I was mowing the lawn and had to stop because I couldn’t remember how to mow. I was diagnosed with Bipolar ll and they gave me the wrong medication. They gave me antidepressants because I appeared depressed. I had two suicide attempts over the last four years. Who wants to live if they can’t think? I have always been a capable, take-care-of-myself person. I couldn’t. I found the right doctor at South Alabama and he was my miracle. He said if you don’t have depression and you are treated with it, it is like throwing gasoline on a fire. I was just going to get worse. With a chemical imbalance, if your brain isn’t working, therapy can only get you so far.
Bipolar is genetic and everyone’s is different. The first thing I did when my brain cleared up was organize my condo and purge all of the stuff. I used to work in retail selling furniture and want to do that again. Going back to work would prove that I am back. I have been myself and the difference has been dramatic. I got my life back and I am so thankful for every day.”