I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type 1 when I was a teenager after a traumatic experience. I have lived with this disease for nearly 15 years now. When doctors first labeled me with Bipolar Disorder, I was devastated as I thought my world was over. I came to find that Bipolar Disorder is an illness that affects about 10 million Americans every year so I was definitely not alone in my struggle.
Initially, I was very scared of medication because the doctors at Stanford Hospital put me on a cocktail of various prescriptions in search of the “right” one for me, some of which included Paxil, Depakote, Lithium, and Prozac. I suffered severe side effects from some of these medications i.e. blurry vision, vomiting, lethargy, weight gain, acne and hallucinations to name a few. After a year of taking various pills, my family decided to force me to quit cold turkey and seek more holistic treatments by sending me to Asia for a summer. It was frightening at first, but I found how people in third world countries like Vietnam can handle Bipolar Disorder without expensive prescriptions, which is mainly through meditation and exercise.
For years, I have tried to find different ways to help me meditate and exercise in order balance the chemicals in my body without having to resort to medication. Two years ago, I tried Bikram Yoga for the first time and I got hooked. The intense heat forced me to clear my mind and meditate and the poses helped me release toxic energy bottled within my body. I found that Bikram Yoga not only helps me shed pounds off my body but also gives me the mental balance I so desperately need.
One of my psychiatrists at Stanford University once told me that in a sense, we all have Bipolar Disorder because we live in bipolar world. It is nothing to be ashamed of and I am coming forward with my story because I believe that Bikram has saved my sanity and my life. If 10 million people have Bipolar Disorder in this country alone, maybe more should practice Bikram Yoga rather than pop more pills. The side effects of yoga are much more appealing.