This update is long overdue but bear with me. It turns out that the most ironic thing about my time in rehab was probably the simple fact that the diagnosis that catapulted me into recovery– bipolar disorder– was removed after I transitioned into sobriety. I’m not bipolar, I’m an addict. After being clean for some time the psychiatrist decided that my mood disorder was drug induced and at almost six months sober I haven’t had any recurrence of symptoms.
Initially, I had mixed feelings about the change in diagnosis. Just when I started to accept that I was bipolar I had the rug pulled out from under me. Addiction hasn’t been any easier to manage and they don’t make pills to treat it. It’s a different diagnosis but one that I’ll nevertheless live with all my life.
But there is some hope. People do recover from addiction. And I’m not a slave to my medications anymore. It’s been almost five months since I’ve taken any kind of mood stabilizing medicine and it feels good to be back to myself. That’s not to say that taking psychiatric medicine is bad– if I was really was bipolar I would certainly need to be on my meds and there’s no shame in that.
Shame is a funny thing and it runs across both diseases– addiction and bipolar disorder. And I’ve been learning that one of the most powerful ways for me to eradicate my own shame is to be open about my recovery instead of hiding behind it. Silence in addiction is deadly. By sharing my struggles and showing that recovery is possible I can spread the message of hope and try to help other people find the recovery that I was so lucky to receive.