When Life Gives You Lemons, Sometimes You Just Want To cry… The Story Of My Bipolar Disorder And My Education

I was robbed in life, by life and circumstance. I literally lost my mind in my early 20’s due to the onset of bipolar disorder. I was delusional and completely at a loss with reality. The onset occurred the year I was going to be attending my fourth and final year of University. This was a big deal to me for so many reasons, one of them being I had worked my ass off to come as far as I had come. I created and directed the Visual Arts Carleton club and had a voice in the art community as a regular volunteer/bartender at Gallery 101. I had even come to take a place on the board of directors at Gallery 101 but had to quickly retire the role due to my mental health, and that was devastating. The whole experience of losing one’s mind is made even the worse when said person has to pick up the pieces after the carnage is over. And the end result of my declining mental health was a hospitalization stay against my will in a psychiatric unit. The ultimate betrayal of my mental health was that I could not attend my fourth year of University and finish my degree which was my biggest dream. It was like what I had said before…devastating.

I was robbed in life, by life and circumstance. My life would come to be defined by these episodes of mania and depression that I would experience as a bipolar person. Both landed me in the hospital at some point or another. My depression is not like your depression, its crippling and mind consuming. My brain looped on this one thought “You are a failure, you couldn’t even finish your degree after completing three years of University.” I would lay in bed twenty four hours of the day and sleep sixteen of those. I was trying to put my brain in a coma if I’m being completely honest with myself. It needed to heal and recover from its loss. I had come so close, cheek to cheek, to my dream of finishing university. It was heart breaking to come that close to achieving my ultimate life’s goal and not being able to have it. There was a lot riding on my education, mainly my parent’s hopes and dreams but also a giant student loan. I had to come out of those four years of studying obsessively with something, even if it was just a piece of paper. That piece of paper, that degree, defines you. It says “hey I made it!” and “I am capable.”

It has taken me years to come to terms with not only my disorder but the reality that I may not ever finish my degree and now that I’ve accepted that, I can honestly say it will be okay. As of late I’ve been thinking it would be nice to finish my degree even if its closer at home at Brock University and in a slightly different program than the one I started at Carleton University. However, while consistently being hospitalized the past few years my finances have been depleted. It may not be feasible to attend University anytime soon with my current financial situation. That being said, who says I need to finish this now? Who said I even need to get my degree in my 20s? Why not my 30s? I think my mentality that I should have achieved the goal of getting my degree by the time I was 22 was limiting me. It was only setting me up to fail. If you open and expand your mind to the possibility that everyone’s timeline in life is different than you leave more room for success. It’s all relative in the end. I have to make allowances for my mental health and accept that my condition has deferred my educational timeline for now. I may not get my degree in my 20s but I am feeling optimistic I will have my finances and health sorted out by the time I am 30 and can then try again to get my degree. I am not going to give up but I must admit bipolar disorder has been and caused the greatest set backs in my life. This will not deter me from setting goals and trying to smash them though, not anymore. I will not lie in bed like I used to wondering “why me?” I was given this illness for a reason because God or the powers that be thought I had the strength to handle it and frankly, I NOW accept the challenge.Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 9.01.06 AM

An Image from my First Year at Carleton University, I am the eighth person from the left.

Anxiety and the Gym.

I will blog later in more detail on this subject but I just thought I’d introduce an old but good idea that the gym helps with anxiety. There is something to be said about taking control of your body. Gains in the gym come to represent gains in life in that if you put hard work into it, you will be rewarded. I never thought I’d be the type of girl to deadlift each morning but here I am. Thanks to a new gym membership at Top Dawgs Fitness and my girl, Amy, I have been setting goals and slowly reaching them. The gym can become a sort of metaphor for achieving your life goals. If you set a plan, work towards it then ultimately you can achieve it.

I am bipolar but I also suffer from anxiety and attend an Anxiety and Depression group once a week. Going to the gym and taking frequent walks help put my mind right, in addition to a very small dose of an anti-depressant called Cipralex. The gym is my happy place, its a place I can accomplish things. I set out to run a certain distance, lift a certain amount of weight and If I am motivated enough I can easily accomplish it. If i can apply this method to the gym then surely I can apply it to my life and start making some changes in how I approach things. Set goals, make plans, and hopefully crush them.

Another thing the gym teaches you is to try new things. I never thought I would ever deadlift in my life but suddenly I find myself living for it, wanting to do it as often as I can. Again this is something my friend Amy taught me and I am thankful for. It gives me something new to focus all my energy on and in my case anxious energy. It takes effort and literal sweat but its worth it in the end to say you did that thing, that thing you wanted to try. I started lifting roughly 60 pounds and can now dealift up to 105 pounds. It comes with practice, time, and ultimately determination  to achieve your goals and in this case my goal was to lift 100 pounds. Again, gains in the gym come to represent gains in life.

I am going to focus all my energy on accomplishing my goals this 2018 whether that be something as simple as getting my license or whether that be something bigger like returning to school. I am going to write a plan of action, carry it out and hopefully I’ll see results the same way I see them in the gym.

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An Actual Image from One of my Workouts at Top Dawgs Fitness.

Bipolar Disorder or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Syndrome?

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Bipolar disorder is characterized by two poles forever in opposition and commonly referred to as mania and depression. My personal experience with this disorder is a sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are two characters or technically one in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In Stevenson’s novella, Dr Jekyll takes a concoction of chemicals which transform him into the more brutish person of Mr Hyde. The two are polar opposites with Dr Jekyll being rational and calm whereas Mr Hyde is a brute who is quick to anger and violence. The two opposing poles of mania and depression in bipolar disorder come to represent more of a split in personality than in disposition sometimes. Depression or as I like to call it my Dr. Jekyll stage is my resting personality, my baseline if you will, and mania is Mr Hyde. This opposition can often feel like a split in personality or rather a split between my id and ego and superego as characterized by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained breaks down the meaning behind “the id” in Sigmund Freud’s mind construct which comprises of the id, ego and superego: “The id “obeys the Pleasure Principle, which says that every wishful impulse must be immediately gratified: it wants everything now. However…the ego, recognizes the Reality principle, which says we can’t have everything we desire, but must take account of the world we live in. The ego negotiates with the id, trying to find reasonable ways to help it get what it wants, without resulting in damage or other terrible consequences” (Collin, 97).

The pull between bipolar depression and mania can often feel like the power struggle between Freud’s id  and ego and superego. Mania can feel like pure bliss because the mind has made its mind up to accomplish everything it wants and takes everything it can get. A common symptom of mania is hypersexuality which fits perfectly into the idea of the id obeying the pleasure principle. Manic individuals often seek pleasure sexually with several partners in a short amount of time, and in my personal experience even seeking several different partners in one day. The id essentially wants “to get off” regardless of the ego’s feeling for a more sensible solution such as maintaining a relationship with one individual resulting in multiple sexual encounters safely. When there is a break down between the id and ego consequences occur. Using the example of hypersexuality, one could end up with an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.

“The id, like a sneaky serpent, whispers to us to do what feels good” (Collin, 111).  Another symptom of mania is risky behaviors and my id was telling me to partake in them so I could “feel good.” I was starting to take drugs like mdma while on shift at work  and at one point during the summer, had over 5 sexual partners in one month. This is similar to how Hyde does what he wants, “…he had been in that night very late, but had gone away in less than an hour; there was nothing strange in that; his habits were very irregular, and he was often absent…” (Stevenson, 22). Hyde stays out late often and is often out so much chasing his id’s whim (such as murdering Sir Danvers Carew) that he is rarely even present. Mania can be compared to a Mr Hyde Complex in that it does what it wants to get what it wants.

In bipolar depression, it is common to reflect on the decisions made my the manic self and regret the behavior displayed during mania. I propose that this depression be referred to as the Dr Jekyll complex and mania as the Mr Hyde complex because of the infamous story written by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Dr Jekyll takes a mixture or rather potion to transform into the brute known as Mr Hyde. Hyde performs crass acts including the murder of the  well to do Sir Danvers Carew. He clubs him to death with a cane in the middle of the night. Dr Jekyll reflects on his time as Mr Hyde, ” When I would come back from these excursions, I was often plunged into a kind of wonder at my vicarious depravity. This familiar that I called out of my own soul, and sent forth alone to do his good pleasure, was a being inherently malign and villainous; his every act and thought centered on self” (Stevenson, 57). Bipolar depression can be compared to as a Dr Jekyll complex because much in a similar way to how Dr Jekyll reflects on the selfish actions of his alter ego, bipolar depression consists of a time of reflection following the high of mania. It is often a time to reflect on the behavior exhibited during a manic episode and this reflection is often one of the underlying causes of the depression itself. What goes up must ultimately come down, whether its gravity or a mood cycle.

The manic self is a selfish self much like the id in that it seeks purely pleasure. I remember spending all my nights partying and doing drugs so I could feel the pleasurable sensation of euphoria. My quest to feel temporarily good was in conflict with my overall health or my ego, if you will. I did not care about the detrimental effects of pumping my system with copious amounts of cocaine, ecstasy and the occasional mushrooms. I was living life blissfully or so I thought. However, when I came down from my high and became once again Dr Jekyll I would often reflect on my actions while living the night life as Mr Hyde. I would be embarrassed by my behavior at parties where I would become too rowdy and  actually initiate physical altercations with other individuals. I would reflect on the bad judge of character I had when pursuing sexual partners and ultimately regret performing the act of sex itself while on these drugs and the high that is mania.

In The Everyday Health Guide To Adult Bipolar Disorder, writer and Ph.D Jon. P. Bloch  states: “In the throes of a manic or depressive episode a person with bipolar says or does many things that seem senseless, destructive, or thoughtless to the onlooker -and to the self, once medicated.” (Bloch, 89). Coming down from a manic episode is a lot like coming off a shrooms trip, its painful and often full of remorse. There is a tendency to slide into a bipolar depression following a fit of mania. I call this the Dr Jekyll side of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde syndrome, a.k.a., bipolar disorder. Dr Jekyll acts more rational than Mr Hyde and has to come to terms with the actions taken when under the cloak of mania. In “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” Jekyll describes what its like to experience becoming Mr Hyde or rather manic: “It was Hyde after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty. Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, where it was possible, to undo the evil done by Hyde” (Stevenson, 57). The depressed self often tries to “clean up after” the manic self and undo the actions performed during mania much like Dr Jekyll tries to “undo the evil done by Hyde.” One key example would be paying off credit card or loan debt acquired by the manic self during an episode of mania where overspending is a common symptom.

If left too long, bipolar depression can spiral into something darker which can be compared to the third element of the mind structure Freud proposes which is the superego. The superego can be broken into layman’s terms in The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained: “the superego speaks through the language of guilt and shame, like a kind of internalized critical parent. We hear the superego when we berate ourselves for thinking or acting a certain way” (Collin, 111). It is common during bipolar depression to feel alienated with guilt and shame particularly if it follows a bout of mania. The individual is ashamed and guilty of the actions taken by the manic self such as spending sprees (where they spend a lot of money in a short amount of time) which are common in people with bipolar disorder. The depressed self may feel guilty that it spent all its savings or money shared with a spouse on most likely trivial things without clearly thinking. I personally felt shame by my manic self’s hypersexuality and was ashamed at how many sexual partners I had in a short amount of time and often the quality of my partner. I sometimes “slept beneath me.”

Bipolar depression akin to the superego can be compared to as a Dr Jekyll complex because Jekyll experiences depressive symptoms such as shutting himself inside and avoiding interactions with  even his friends. Dr Jekyll writes the following in a letter to his lawyer friend Mr Utterson, “…I mean from henceforth to lead a life of extreme seclusion; you must not be surprised, nor must you doubt my friendship, if my door is often shut even to you. You must suffer me to go my own dark way. I have brought on myself a punishment and a danger that I cannot name” (Stevenson, 29). He views Hyde as dangerous, and as a punishment for bringing him forth is secluding himself from the outside world. When a bipolar person comes down from mania they often want to punish themselves for behavior exhibited during that period of their life. Bipolar depression following mania may result in the individual “shutting themselves in” as a way to cope with the actions performed during the period of mania. They may feel alienated from their peers and choose to avoid them. Following a mania episode, I once “shut myself in” for a few months and would not leave the house let alone the couch because I was so embarrassed by my manic self’s decisions and actions.

I move that Bipolar Disorder also be referred to as “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Syndrome” because well it’s a sexier name and also because the characteristics of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as compared to bipolar depression and mania. “Dr Jekyll complex” comes to represent bipolar depression in that Dr Jekyll reflects on the actions taken by Mr Hyde or rather mania. He represents symptoms of depression such as remorse, guilt and even shutting himself in from the world much like a depressed person hides in bed. “Mr Hyde Complex” comes to represent mania through Mr Hyde’s unusual and irrational behavior such as staying out at all hours of the night and ultimately the murder of Sir Danvers Carew. I also propose that bipolar depression and mania can be compared to Sigmund Freud’s id, ego and superego. The id representing mania in its quest for pleasure and pleasure alone. The ego and superego comparatively represents bipolar depression in its more rational approach to achieving pleasure and its qualities of guilt and shame.

In conclusion, I propose Bipolar Disorder be compared to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and so I ask you, my readers: “Bipolar Disorder or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Syndrome?”


Bloch, Jon P. The Everything Health Guide To Adult Bipolar Disorder. Massachusetts:

Adams Media, 2006.

Collin, Catherine, et al. The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. New York: DK

Publishing, 2012.

Fink, Candida, and Joe Kraynak. Bipolar Disorder for Dummies. New Jersey: John Wiley &

Sons, Inc., 2016.

Stevenson, Louis Robert. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales.   

New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

I Have Bipolar Disorder But I am NOT Bipolar.


Recently I decided to write a new blog – all things bipolar! This is my first entry in which I plan to outline my goals for this blog and of course introduce myself. It took me years to come to terms with my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, after several bouts of mania, hypomania, bipolar depression and even manic induced psychosis. I felt like the diagnosis labelled me as something “less than” and I really struggled with the concept that I have bipolar disorder but I am not my illness. I am so many more things than my illness: a lover, a fighter, a writer, a journalist and an avid gym goer (thought I would throw that one in there). It was hard to look past the label of a lifelong affliction with a mental disorder. It was hard to look past the fact that my brain worked on a level abnormal to the so called norm. However, a very small part of me was kind of elated because my life and its constant ups and downs finally had context – the cycle of mania and depression.

My intention with this blog is to educate more than anything on the personal side of bipolar disorder and the struggle one might face coming to terms with this illness, monitoring it, and hopefully, ultimately living your best healthy life while living with this affliction (which I am still getting a hang of!). This blog is also an opportunity for me to learn more about the disorder and the people who struggle with it. I intend to follow as many blogs written by bipolar people about bipolar and other mental health issues they may face. I also intend to research the disorder more thoroughly in hopes to further my knowledge and my reader’s on the topic.

Now about me:

My first serious manic episode occurred when I was transitioning into my final year at Carleton University. I had my first manic episode with psychosis and experienced my first ever hospitalization. I hallucinated a memory that I had been raped two years ago and truly believed in my delusional thinking that it was true. I also had paranoid and delusional thoughts centering around the company LaSenza which I was writing an expose on. I thought they were watching me via my webcam and were “on to me.” Lithium helped me come to my senses but left me with a feeling of apathy towards life and an inability to focus on my studies at the time. I returned home to the Niagara region and shortly after experienced my first serious bipolar depression where I laid in bed on average sixteen hours of the day. I developed a sense of anxiety towards the world and ultimately became an agoraphobic for months, not leaving the house and rarely using the front door.

Two antidepressants, Wellbutrin and Cipralex, led to me gradually leaving the house and becoming social once again. However, the combination of the two medications without a mood stabilizer (as I weaned off lithium) resulted in my second full blown episode of mania. I had mainly delusional thoughts in which I thought I was a celebrity with millions of dollars. I offered to buy all my friends cars and even tried ordering a bunch of mustangs by calling a Ford dealership from the hospital phone since I was ultimately hospitalized again. My psychiatrist prescribed lithium once again which resulted in a hard come down where I was extremely embarrassed by my actions. This time around thought I did not have a bipolar depression following my bout of mania. The doctors kept me in the hospital for about two months to ensure I transitioned back into everyday living smoothly. At the time I was very upset about this but am now very thankful.

I have been mania free for about two years now and finally found the right cocktail of drugs to keep me on the straight and arrow (an anti psychotic called abilify and recently a small dose of cipralex to help with my overall anxiety). I believe my experience with bipolar disorder make me a good person to discuss this illness via this blog and shed some light on the nature of the affliction and its fallout.  I will also be slowly releasing a book of fiction I am writing with the working title The Secret Diaries of A Manic Depressive Girl loosely based on my experience with bipolar disorder and hospitalization. I hope to ultimately self publish this book and share it with the world. The goals of this blog are simple: to educate and remove stigma surrounding the illness that is bipolar disorder.

To my readers, I hope you take something away from reading my blog even if its simply the feeling that you’re not alone in this.