Over the Hill with Bipolar Disorder: How I Lived to Tell the Tale
I’ll be 67-years-old next August 7. I think I’m still 17 until I look in the mirror each morning, splash cold water on my face, brush my gray hair and discover more wrinkles on my face that were not there the day before.
My psychiatrist did not tell me what to expect in recovery when he diagnosed me with bipolar disorder II nearly 25 years ago. I thought that if I just took the medication all would be well. I didn’t know about maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, how to manage stress, eating balanced meals, exercise and psychotherapy to start living as normal a life as possible.
BP affects all age groups — and the number of seniors with bipolar disorder is expected to increase as the population ages.
Now that I am an “older adult,” I have challenges each day other than keeping mood swings at bay. According to a study by the National Institute of Health, bipolar disorder often involves disabling and enduring cognitive impairments in older patients. A cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new skills, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life. Cognitive impairment ranges from mild to severe. I had to retire and go on disability when I was 60 after giving up trying to hold a job. I could not remember directions necessary for whatever I was supposed to do in my position. I went from being a college professor and Ph.D. candidate in the 1980’s to a night janitor in a hospital emergency room and onto several unsuccessful telemarketing jobs.