Stories of Bipolar Misdiagnosis - Heather

Heather shares her story of being misdiagnosed with depression. She had bipolar disorder. Read about the impact it had on her life.

Bipolar NOT Depression

by Heather
August 1, 2005

Believe it or not, the doctors misdiagnosed me with depression at the age of 13. Ten years later, I found a doctor who got it right.

The symptoms of bipolar kept me distant from everyone for fear that they couldn't truly understand what was really going on in my head. In addition, the thoughts of suicide would scare them too much. I also believed that others felt that I really didn't care about their problems because if they only knew what was in my head, their problems would pale in comparison.

Over the years, there was also the extraordinary amount of sex, typical during manic episodes along with spending, what for me was, exorbitant amounts of money.

When I got the first misdiagnosis of depression, I knew what that was and I knew I didn't have it because I had some days where I didn't feel bad. In fact, during those periods, I felt pretty good.

Getting a Bipolar Diagnosis

Being diagnosed correctly for the first time was crushing, but when I got home I started to research bipolar disorder and it was like a great weight had been lifted because finally someone truly understood what was going on and paid attention to what I was saying.

I was able to share the diagnosis with my family and that explained so much of my behavior. It explained the mood swings; which many of my family members thought was a result of a drug problem (I didn't take drugs). Now I could show them what being bipolar meant with reference materials I found and with going to DBSA meetings (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance).

Therapy made a difference in that I had a place to talk about what was going on in my head without being judged badly. I also found that I could regulate my moods by maintaining a sleep schedule, using calming techniques, adjusting my diet. Learning about my disorder and how it affects me has really helped.

I'm 28 now. By caring for myself, I'm actually able to work full-time, keep and maintain an apartment and not have the out-of-control thoughts of suicide. My life is a lot better.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 28). Stories of Bipolar Misdiagnosis - Heather, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Last Updated: January 10, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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