My illness was not extremely debilitating. I just withdrew from the world for days at a time on a regular basis and dreamed of very depressing things that suddenly became real in my world. I really thought everyone dealt with this, just better than I did. The manic side was apparently subtle until last year though I can look back now at those periods where I was involved in, and was asked to take charge of, everything I could get my hands on. Then would come a collapse and I'd have to run away from it all. There were a few relationships but none more than a couple of years and they seemed to be in trouble more than not. Of course during this whole time I had no idea something was actually wrong.
Over the last few years the withdrawals seemed more severe and I began to believe I was dealing with depression. I sought help from my regular physician who explained "everybody gets depressed" and passed it off. A later episode actually got me to a mental health provider, but I cycled back and dropped it before ever getting a diagnosis. During this time depressions would last 2 to 4 days when I could not get out of bed, couldn't call in sick or answer the phone, just slept and fantasized about dying. Fortunately I had a workplace that accepted (for whatever reason) that this happened and avoided some major consequences. Meanwhile there began to be incidents of rage, never completely out of control but way out of character.
Finally I had an episode where after 3 days in bed I was suddenly high as a kite, happy as hell, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and knew that it was just all wrong! I was distracted at work by this new invention called the internet where my desperate need to connect with many people as well as my need for more and more general information on all different subjects .I just stopped going to work and told my family friends and work that I had some stomach thing, which of course was a huge lie. I was home creating websites all day and night, and chatting with all my wonderful new "friends" on the internet.
I love myself and respect myself now. I don't need others' approval for everything in my life. I no longer reinvent myself for men. The only way that I can really put it is “I am just OK with me “