By Eva FurnessJanuary 27, 2020

Sometimes I scavenge the internet with searches like “bipolar” or “bipolar depressive episode.” I am not sure what exactly I am looking for, because I have searched this topic millions of times. I know the warning signs, treatment plans, hotline numbers, tips & tricks, yet I still find myself longing for more information. While searching in hopes of finding something new and to feel less alone, I always come across one word that sparks a fire in my heart: incurable.

They always say “bipolar is not curable, but treatable.” I sit with those words racing through my head pretty often. They throw in terms like “long-term illness” or “symptoms can be managed,” but I always wonder what they really mean. What does life look like long-term living with bipolar disorder? How treatable are the symptoms and will life ever get easier?

I have been living with several severe mental illnesses for over a decade. I have ridden the roller coaster of countless treatment plans, always longing for “the cure.” The list of resources I have exhausted on the quest to find stability is long: medications, several therapists, group therapy, outpatient programs, and so on. A year ago I sat quietly in a new doctor’s office and when she spoke the words “bipolar disorder,” my soul felt calm. Something about a different diagnosis always sparks some hope inside me, because it means there are new treatment options.

I have been thankful for this past year and that diagnosis. It has lead to me being properly medicated, which has done wonders, and as I have gotten healthier and things have started to shift in my brain. I have been able to maintain my stability for longer periods than ever before. I am more rational and healthy when it comes to my thoughts and self-talk. I have grown in relationships and communicating.

But, I am still not cured. The sadness still returns. The manic episodes still occur.

Up until last year, I never questioned the moments that I felt on top of the world. It simply felt like life was rewarding me for the months that I was trapped in darkness by allowing me to feel (even briefly) unstoppable. Although those moments were fleeting, and in most cases led me back into the depths of depression, I longed for them. But now, I crave the middle ground. I think most people with bipolar disorder do, too. We hope for calm, for security, for safety. I am learning every day what it looks like to allow joy to exist in healthy and realistic ways. I am fighting every day to understand the difference between mania and feeling genuinely happy.

This is a battle I will fight into the future and I am learning to trust myself again. I am learning to trust in the process of treatment and realize that not every bad night will become a month-long depressive episode. I’m learning to trust that when my heart feels so deeply joyful, it does not mean darkness is going to follow.

Life would be easier if there was a cure. If there was an end date on this disorder, a guarantee that medication would always work or that a certain amount of time in therapy would heal me. There is no cure, however. But there is treatment. Treatment that helps me manage symptoms the best that I can and allows me to take pride in how hard I’m fighting for that middle ground every day.

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Comments (13)

  1. Erin Kreis

    Thank you for sharing this insight. It will help a lot of people, giving them hope.

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  2. Alassandra Burks

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m sitting here crying because it’s so nice to hear someone else feels the same way. Thank you for showing me I’m not alone.

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  3. TL Alton

    A genuine insight into Bipolar, which I have lived with for over 30 years. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. NCMom

    Eva- I admire your story, your spirit, and your persistence and openness! I have a thought—while you are/were concerned about the “incurable” aspect if bipolar….pls don’t get hung up on those words…Also, imho, as we get older life gets better, easier, more manageable. Some of our perspective changes and what was once a critical issue can become something we just roll with it. We see the end of a relationship as God closing a door so He can open another one INSTEAD of seeing it as devastating souls crushing loss… we realize the person just wasn’t the right one and say “Next.”
    Having the ability to see and appreciate your own resiliency will come when you are ready for it.

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  5. Elaine Bonga

    Thank you for such a blog. I have Bipolar Disorder, too. Finally, I’ve read something that really speaks to me. I want to share something about what my mom told me: As long as there is life, there is HOPE. Hope keeps me living. Even there are times I attain the middle ground, it’s not a guarantee that I will be free from Bipolar Disorder. Every single day is a battle but as long as there is hope, it is manageable. I wish you all the best!

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  6. Brandy

    Thank you for sharing. Your words hold a lot of meaning to me because I feel the same way. I’m exhausted from the ups and downs and just want a constant stability. Thank you for sharing with us your story. It means a lot to me.

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  7. Valerie

    How , how do I get a loved one care? I feel like I’m always reaching out to crisis hotlines during crisis, but when the calm before the storm happens, there doesn’t seem to be any help. To the point of swlf medication and heroine, I feel it in my heart he is reaching the end. It’s either jail, bad health, or suicide. And I feel helpless. How do we find help for people like that? I feel there is more awareness happening, but for people that are deep in, there isn’t an actual path. Reading this made me think of him and how he struggles again, and makes me happy that some people can find some relief. I wish there was a solid path for getting help tho. When people are struggling, they are too lost to make the time and plan to get help.

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    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Valerie,

      We are incredibly sorry to know that you and your loved one are struggling. No single path is perfect for everyone, but we do believe hope exists and it can be found through help, love, and support. Would you email our team at [email protected] so we can hear more about the challenges you and your loved one are facing so we can offer you support and resources?

      We hope to hear from you soon.


      Reply  |  
  8. Karen

    Great article!!!

    Reply  |  
  9. Tianna-Lynn Caito

    all i had to read was the first line, and i was hooked. well the catch line anyway! i found out i had bipolar disorder when i was 27 im now almost 30, its definitely a struggle every day! i dont know if ive ever felt true happiness or if it is all just mania. im looking for friends like me if anyone see’s this please try to find me im on facebook. tianna-lynn caito! i need to stop feeling like im all alone.

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  10. Sheri

    My husband was diagnosed with bipolar II a few years ago. We’ve been together 33 years, since we were in high school. I honestly felt like a giant weight had been lifted because there was finally a “why” for his ups and downs. He’d never fit the stereotypical signs of a bipolar diagnosis since his manic episodes weren’t as grandiose, but it had been in the back of my head for many years. Anyway, loving someone with this diagnosis is difficult because I want desperately for him to be satisfied…not necessarily even happy because he can’t even define what that would look like…just content I suppose. He’s a very black and white thinker. Thank you for the insight into what it’s like to distinguish the “high” from genuine happiness. I can only imagine it’s a mental battle in and of itself.

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  11. Randy Gooder

    That’s beautiful Eva!

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  12. Natalie Novak

    I’m newly diagnosed with bipolar, after being in therapy and various programs, with various other diagnosis. What’s sticking with me is what you said “understanding the difference between mania, and genuinely feeling happy”. It leaves me both confused, and happy that someone else struggling with the difference is a thing. I’m struggling with finding the right words with my psychiatrist to help me fully understand this new diagnosis. I have so many questions, but also, feel like having this makes perfect sense. Like you also said, it brings on the possibility of new treatments. I was so greatful for that as well. Now that we know the issue, we can begin to correctly treat it. “Hope is defiant”, thank you. I got so much from this article.

    Reply  |  
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