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My Journey While Balancing Bipolar Disorder and ADHD

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

How I Learned To Function and Focus On The Chaos That Makes Me Happiest

There was an important time in my life that resulted in the most growth and success I had seen as an individual. After years of struggling with mood swings and heavy depression, there was a weight lifted off my shoulders. I was able to quickly go from depressed and broke to earning multiple degrees, financially stability, a career that inspired me, and making 6 figures a year. All thanks to a diagnosis and adjustment to structure.

My Story

Perhaps when you think of bipolar individuals, you think the same as many others automatically imagine an individual who is happy one second and enraged the next, yet there is so much more to the disorder that goes undiscussed.

If you have ever known anyone with bipolar disorder or are currently living with it yourself, no one would have to tell you that life can be challenging. Trying to manage daily life with the highs of manias and the lows of depression is no easy feat.

When imagining an individual living with ADHD, most would picture someone with a racing mind, a restless energy, a tendency to focus a little bit on a lot of things.

I am the queen of getting anything ramped up and started. All the way to 80%, maybe 90% each time. Then suddenly, my next project (distraction) emerges, and I couldn’t finish a thing.

As a young woman in my twenties, I believed anything that was wrong in my life was just a result of my laziness. There was no way it could be because of any mental health issues other people talked about. I clearly had been very successful with earning scholarships to get to college and did very well on standardized exams. My grades had been exceptional.

I still recall my psychiatrist saying the exact words, “You are out of control.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was depressed and couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t moving forward anymore. I began to cry uncontrollably. I replied, “Okay, I’m lazy. I get it. How do I fix all this?”

He began to laugh, and I could feel the heat of rage burning through my body. I wanted to throw my chair at this man as he laughed at me and appeared to have all the answers I was dying for.

He responded by telling me he didn’t believe I was lazy. “You’re out of control, but it’s probably chemical imbalances. We just need to get all that right and you’ll be just fine.”

He sent me to variety of specialists. From an endocrinologist to an acupuncturist for more holistic approaches. Finally, he sent me to a clinical psychologist for a battery of additional tests.

After all the doctors had looked over me for a course of 3 months. The diagnosis came back. My psychiatrist sat there with his folder containing pages and pages of test results and information I was sure would still lead to the same answer. I’m just lazy. I’m the problem.

Turns out my hormones were beyond out of control. They were not only the cause of multiple medical issues I had been dealing with, but they also helped add to my depression. In addition, the results from the clinical psychologist showed I had ADHD and Bipolar I Disorder.

Finally, I had an explanation for why I struggle to get things done like others. And why I continued to struggle with mood swings that now led to heavy depression and full blown manias. It made sense why when I get into hypomania state, I talk about a hundred miles an hour.

My doctor suggested continued counseling and meds, as a combination of talk therapy and medications has proven effective for bipolar individuals. I finally had the path and answers to reach my ultimate happiness.

My Recovery & Spiral

I landed a job as a teacher that helped launch my career as an educator. The organization I worked for was effective since I was able to consistency self-reflect with their work environment and receiving coaching to continually grow. It was the best balance for my mental health I thought.

I then got so excited with the growth of my work, I eventually pretty much ignored everything my doctors said. I got so busy with work, I stopped going to counseling. I had so many weekly check-ins with managers that I actually had all the accountability factors I needed for tracking my habits and success. I grew to believe I knew my diagnosis and I could just read my way through books to figure out how juggle with my conditions.

I grew quickly in my organization and started my 6 figures a year from a combination of salary, bonuses, training other educators and selling curriculum on the side. The broke and struggling mom was no more. I would work for every penny and make sure my kids never struggled for anything. I believed I had taken control of my mental health and didn’t need anyone’s help.

The truth was I was embarrassed. I knew what things looked like on paper. Every award and success in the world couldn’t take away the fact that I was Bipolar and ADHD. I felt the label of the girl with mood swings and easily distracted stamped right over my forehead.

As my career continued to grow, I felt it was important to put others first and show my sacrifice as a leader. I couldn’t let anyone believe I was a liability if they knew about my mental health issues and struggles. I was even advised multiple times to be quiet about my mental health, because others would not understand it and likely hold it against me.

So, I continued to push. Even when personal stresses such as identity theft and deaths in the family, as well as the struggles of being a single mom put a toll on me, I kept going. I was realizing that I was too focused on work that I forgetting about me. This led to my final spiral.

I eventually lost the ability to clear my mind long enough to sleep. I would go periods as long as 2-3 days without sleeping. After one 72-hour period, I eventually loss all feeling in my legs and collapsed. I could see what was happening around me, but I could no longer control my body. I was in a state of shock.

After seeking the proper care and getting back to proper combination of balances in my life, I was able to regain control of my mental health.

Founding Structure Innovations

In an effort to help others, I founded Structure Innovations. I hope to help others enhance their quality of life by helping shift their focus and mindset to happiness and gratitude, all in order to ensure success in every aspect of their lives.

Structure Innovations will offer not only this blog, but an array of courses, planning resources, and time/life management tools. These are resources that have worked for me, as well as many others close to my heart.

As I have helped hundreds of students, families, and educators through my years as an educator, mentor, and leader, I want to continue to keep certain values close to the heart of my company.

I want to help others by providing innovative ways to structure your life and find balance through time/life management. You can prioritize away, but at the end of the day, if you are not focusing on the correct things in life, you are still wasting your time.

When we focus on happiness instead of success first, everything still falls into place. When we are happiest, we tend to thrive and succeed.

When we are overworked and overwhelmed, we can forget to focus on ourselves and our success is no longer really worth anything to us. It becomes another trophy on the wall or award for the year, but it leaves an empty feeling of needing the next success to feel joy.

Life continues not matter what you focus on. However, when you focus on what makes you happy, and still take care of things that don’t (adulting), we achieve a stronger life balance.

I promise to be honest about my experiences with my own mental health, however, also honest about not being a medical expert myself. What I share will be based off my own experiences, those of others interviewed, scholarly journal studies, and an array of other resources. At the end of the day, please make sure you check with your own health care providers as well. I’m more than grateful that I finally did.

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And stay tuned for my future posts on maintaining my life balance up and focusing on the chaos that makes me happiest.

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