I was diagnosed bipolar type 1 with mixed episodes (the Criterium in the DSM-V includes having full-blown manic episodes) 3 years ago; my limited sense of control over my emotions has at times caused havoc. My 20’s were a time of self-discovery, self-loathing; internalizing the social stigmas of being a homosexual male living with a mental disorder. I knew something was wrong but I wasn’t diagnosed nor did I seek help. I used to say I thrived in the chaotic landscape I created but now I realize I just adapted to it’s madness, I internalized it. I like to say in the famous words of Twain in the Tale of Two Cities (1859), my 20’s “were the best of times and they were the worst of times.” I lived a lot of life, I wasn’t ready to seek help, I was too busy partying, all the while my friends progressed in life, getting their professional degrees, and building familial relationships. All the while, I was in my own personal hell. I’ve since realized and learned that bipolar disorder has a high genetic component, so it wasn’t all my fault; and, I did a lot of self-improving, and readjusting my thinking patterns which helped me move forward.
The breakthrough for me was getting diagnosed and seeking clinical help. I could no longer live the life I had grown accustomed to, it was slowly killing me. The reason I explain this is because my condition has had a significant impact on my behaviors and actions, both with family and in the academic world. My daily stressors may be a little more extreme than most, in large part due to my overwhelming emotional states. They directly affect the way I process situations, the way I engage in social interactions, and deal with stress. Despite my past, I adopted an optimistic and enthusiastic outlook on life. I saw it like this, I had survived the worst, on the brink of dying and losing myself completely, surviving my current stress would be a cake walk. This was the result of living with a mental disorder without lack of adequate treatment. I pulled my mental resources together and voted for life; I forgave those who harmed me and I forgave myself for my indiscretions. That was a big step in moving forward; positive thinking is empowering.
It was that way of thinking that propelled me to seek Psychology. I took a general psychology class and the rest as they so often say(society) is history. I wanted to learn more about myself so that I could help others. My undergraduate education has confirmed my choice to move into a clinical psychology doctoral program once I attain my Bachelor of Science B.S. in Psychology/minor in biology. It is important to know some of my background to give you a better understanding of my current state-of mind/world.
Robert M. Ramos