When Andy Behrman was diagnosed with bipolar disorder over 20 years ago, he didn’t know anyone who had the illness. He didn’t even know what it was. “I remember asking the doctor if I needed to have an MRI and if I would live to see my next birthday.”
For about 10 years he struggled with stabilizing his disorder, which included being misdiagnosed by seven mental health practitioners, taking over 40 medications and receiving ECT. It’s a period he chronicles in his book Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania.
One of the biggest lessons he’s learned in managing his bipolar disorder and living a successful life is to embrace the illness.
“I’ve chosen to be friends with my bipolar disorder instead of [viewing it as] the enemy. I feel [that] too much emphasis is placed on ‘fighting’ mental illness and ‘recovery,’ when I know today that learning to embrace my bipolar disorder and keeping the focus on coping and managing to live with it on a daily basis would have been a much better strategy.”