Can I Get Back to Life Before Bipolar Disorder?

May 27, 2024 Natasha Tracy

When I started seeing a psychiatrist, he said I would get back to life before bipolar disorder (well, I was diagnosed with just depression at the time). He focused on it a lot. He wanted to know how I was doing compared to what I was like "before." But there are so many problems with that thinking. I'm not sure you can ever get back to life before bipolar disorder.

What Is Life Before Bipolar Disorder?

I barely have a notion of life before bipolar disorder. While it wasn't recognized at the time, I started manifesting signs of mental illness as a child and then started having major depressions in my teens. Many people do have years of life before mental illness, but I don't.

That being said, I experienced a prolonged period of euthymia when I was 18 that I think of as life before bipolar disorder. It's life before psychiatrists. It's life before medication. I will never get back there, obviously, as psychiatrists and medication are always going to be a part of my life, but if I could get back to feeling the way I did, then that would be the definition of success.

Is It Possible to Get Back to Life Before Bipolar Disorder?

The thing is, I don't think it's possible to get back to life before bipolar disorder. I think it's ridiculous of doctors to say you can, and I think it's ridiculous to compare your life now to what it was before bipolar disorder. Once you become a pickle, you will never be a cucumber again.

Why Do Doctors Say You Can Get Back to Life Before Bipolar?

I think doctors tell you that you will get back to life before bipolar disorder because they think it will motivate you to go through treatment. Treatment can be awful, but if you think it'll get you your life back, you'll do it. The thing is, while it can get you a life back, I don't think it can get you your pre-bipolar life back. Doctors who say differently are being disingenuous or are wildly inexperienced.

What Can You Get Back If Not Life Before Bipolar Disorder?

I'm not a great example of successful bipolar disorder treatment. I'm so far away from normal (mentally healthy) that the light from normality doesn't even reach where I live. That said, there is a lot to be said for not being dead. And make no mistake about it, when I started treatment, that's where I was headed. I've headed that way and have had that outcome averted by treatment many times since. I suppose if you avoid death, everything else is just a bonus.

But there are other things that treatment gives you, too. Treatment offers you a chance at happiness. Treatment offers you a chance to build healthy relationships and the opportunity to find fulfillment. Without treatment, bipolar disorder would override all of those things.

I think most people never get back to their life before bipolar disorder because there are too many ways bipolar disorder invades your life. It changes your thoughts. It changes your priorities. It changes the you that you were bound to be before the illness. But honestly, that's okay. Life changes everyone. It just so happens that a life with bipolar disorder is drastically changed.

So, I would say that comparing your life to a life before bipolar disorder is pointless. The better thing is to compare your life to the life you want to have ― given your particular situation. With bipolar disorder, you will never be an astronaut, but there are still a million other things to be. Life after bipolar disorder is, without a doubt, different than before it, but it is absolutely still worth having.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2024, May 27). Can I Get Back to Life Before Bipolar Disorder?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

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