Tracy Fitzpatrick

Independent Representative, AVON

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Mental illness is a horrible thing to live with, yet it can be a blessing.

I get sometimes get angry that I have to live with bipolar disorder, but am blessed that I have the opportunity to work with a wonderful psychologist every week and an amazing and understanding psychiatrist every month to cope and deal with it and be stable and productive. I still have bouts of depression and mania, but we keep them controlled. Also, I have the most phenomenal partner that keeps things in check and is not afraid to confront me and/or contact my care providers to help me get stable again. i am in the middle of a bitter divorce and custody battle, which doesn't help my situation....but it will all be okay in the end.....i know it will. Compassion is what the mentally ill need, and a great support system. I would not have made it this far without my great friends and doctors. Being mentally ill is, overall, a blessing, but it can be a nightmare, too.

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    Sep 4 2012: Also, I greatly appreciate your loving and encouraging, and deeply honest comments. they mean so much to me.
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    Sep 4 2012: i have a question for those that are also bipolar....are you also plagued with severe migraines, especially stress-induced migraines?
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    Aug 29 2012: This man starts his poetic talk with a bit of consideration of 'polars'

    http://youtu.be/RdkgGphEyqk
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    Aug 29 2012: To Linda....Thank you!!!!!! It has been a long road, but I am doing well now..... :)
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    Aug 29 2012: Utilize the resources available. One book that has been invaluable to me is the "Bipolar Handbook." It has chapters for the "patient:" and chapters for those that have to live with or deal with them. My parents would not read it....they are in denial and think it is all in my head, yet gratefully my dad DOES pay for my therapy and psychiatry....THANKS DADDY!!!!!....even though he thinks it is bunk.

    I am now fairly stable...just gotta quit drinking. It has been a rough year and a half with a nasty divorce and custody battle...but I am stabilizing and am in substance abuse courses to help, including AA and others. It is still hard. We find ways to cope, and some are not the healthiest, to say the least. I keep up on my meds, though, and that makes a big difference.

    I encourage those that suffer from this disorder, or any other mental disorder, to work with your psychiatrist to find the right medications. It takes time, but there are some out there with minimal side effects and maximum benefits. It just may take some time and playing around with meds to find the right combo. Good luck to those that suffer, and great blessings to those that stay alongside the mentally ill...it is not easy, i know. it is easier to abuse them than to understand them, as demonstrated by my husband of 15 years. I am now in a great relationship where, for the most part, he gets me.....and is so loving and compassionate....please google bipolar disorder for plenty of resources to help........
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    Aug 29 2012: There is a tremendous amount of literature and resources for those in relationships with bipolar people. Yet there are still difficulties. Trust issues are often the primary problem. It is difficult. Bipolar people act out in one of many ways, but the primary ones are: spending money, sex, drugs, alcohol, and reckless behavior. Unless adequately treated, which usually consists of regular (weekly) counseling with a great therapist, seeing a psychiatrist regularly to evaluate and maintain medications, and the support of those closest to you, it can easily get out of control. Often, those with bipolar disorder do not like the side effects of certain medications. This is when it is ESSENTIAL to discuss the issues with your psychiatrist and find what works. It took me nearly 4 years to find the combination of medications that worked for ME. EVERYONE is different and that is something to remember.

    Living with someone with bipolar disorder takes a lot of compassion and understanding and a realization that what they do is not personal against you. GET THE NUMBERS OF THEIR PHYSICIANS AND PSYCHOLOGISTS and USE THEM WHEN NECESSARY WITHOUT FEAR!!!!!!!!! I depend on those around me to call me on my mania or depression, and when I refuse to accept what they are saying, I depend on them to call my physicians, etc. to get me the help i need. It is part of the process. I have accepted the fact that I am bipolar, though i hate it, and i realize that at least ONE of my 3 daughters is likely to develop it at some point in life. I was diagnosed at 14, but my parents ignored it.....so I didn't REALLY get diagnosed until i was 34. What a different life I would have lived had I had the proper treatment at the time I really needed it....
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    Aug 29 2012: Kay Jamison was recommended by my psychiatrist...she is amazing....Touched with Fire is an amazing book....oddly, anytime i have an issue with my partner, it is always my fault....i have just been told, despite the fact that he flat out said he was laying a guilt trip on me and i refused to be a part of it, that i will pay tomorrow....and so it goes in the bipolar life.....somehow always at fault because NOT NORMAL.....hmmmmmmm....and those around me use it as an excuse to be "perfect". i love it. that is the life that the mentally ill deal with on a daily basis.....they are the crazy ones, despite their stability and reasonableness....if there is a "diagnosis" then everyone else has an excuse to abuse them or to be mean.....nice.
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    Aug 29 2012: "On Ya"

    I don't like to call Bipolar a mental illness but rather a condition that some are born with and that ongoing medical research will one day help to bring the condition to an end or help in making episodes few and far between as almost to be non existent, a mere occasional bad hair day but in saying so will sufferers lose something of themselves? a certain unique quality about themselves that they only know central to themselves,I'm only grasping tracy as i don't know what you or other sufferers go through but as we downunder often say

    On Ya,keep it up.
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    Aug 29 2012: Wow Tracy you are doing a fabulous job of managing your illness and maintaining health! Yes you can be healthy with an illness just like someone with diabetes can effectively manage their illness and be healthy. It sounds like you surrounded yourself with a great team of practitioners and support people that are part of your treatment team. They all understand how to help and support your health and that is great.

    Just like someone with diabetes, sometimes the illness is tough to keep in control but it sounds like you leverage your physicians and support people to help maintain a healthy balance. Sometimes things can get out of balance but you have wonderful people to help you regain your balance. Keep up the great work!
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    Aug 28 2012: Hi, Tracy. Bravo to you for your positive attitide and the success of your health management strategy. Maybe this should be a shout out for the whole of Team Tracy!
    There is a wonderful book written by a scholar named Kay Jamison who is herself bipolar and studies the connection between mental illness, but bipolar disorder in particular, and creative achievement. She too has a successful management strategy in place that suits her particular condition, and with that success says that she actually would prefer to be bipolar than not because of the breadth of experience she gains from it.
    The book is called Touched with Fire.
  • Aug 28 2012: Hi Tracy

    When I was 19 I was a carer for a partner with mental illness, I was too young for this and it was draining and detrimental to my own mental health and life goals. University was put on hold, friendships were sacrificed and I ended up resenting my partner for not bringing to the table what a life partner should.

    I now have a policy of surrounding myself with people that only contribute to my life, as I do for them in return.

    You are very lucky to have a partner who is understanding, however I do not believe that adult relationships can be based on such asymmetrical needs.
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    Aug 28 2012: I am hesitant to share all this, but I hope it benefits someone....whether someone that deals with mental illness, or someone that is in a relationship of any kind with someone that suffers from mental illness....of ANY kind!!!! Please respond freely....