How I found out I had a bipolar disorder: A reflexive-collaborative exploration of the process of identifying that one is struggling with a severe mental health problem
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Research indicates that it may take up to 10 years between onset of symptoms of bipolar disorder and receiving correct diagnosis and treatment. What is this period like? How do individuals experience the process of discovering that they have a bipolar disorder? In this study we utilized a hermeneutical-phenomenological approach developed within a reflexivecollaborative framework to explore these questions. In-depth interviews with 13 participants who reported both bipolar I and bipolar II diagnoses were conducted. We analyzed our data in collaboration with a group of 12 coresearchers who have experiences of mood disorders, and through reflexive dialogue with this group we validated and expanded our results. We describe three phases through which participants manoeuvred from (a) “uncertainty and confusion” through (b) “grasping the novel and unusual experiential states” to (c) “giving meaning to the lived experiences of intense ups and downs.” These results are discussed in relation to theory, research and practice.