Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million Americans ages 18 and older in a given year –National Institute of Mental Health.
Sharon Carruthers is a wife, mother and retired registered nurse who didn't accept until halfway through her life that she was one of these 5.7 million. Through self-awareness, proper treatment and a strong will, Carruthers learned how to lead a positive, healthy life while living with a mental health issue.
'You can lead a normal life even with mental illness," Carruthers says. 'This depends, of course, on how willing you are to accept your disease for what it is and admit you need treatment."
Her new book, The Teeter Totter, is an inspirational autobiography of Carruthers' experiences, discoveries and life lessons, which she hopes will encourage others living with a similar condition to accept their situation and get help.
The Teeter Totter covers topics such as the proper medications and treatments for Bipolarism, the importance of honesty with yourself and others when living with a mental health issue, and the role faith plays in overcoming life's challenges.
Through her strong commitment to values such as faith, attitude and acceptance, Carruthers remind others living with a mental health issue that it is possible to get help and live a relatively normal life.
'I hated to admit I had mental health issues all my life, but the relief of at last feeling normal was overpowering and I now have a great burden to help anyone with this disease that I can to admit their problem, find a good psychiatrist and get on medication and stay on it,"
Carruthers says. 'Life really can be immensely enjoyable and symptom free."
Sharon Carrutherslives in Shawnee, Kansas with her husband of 42 years, and they have two adult sons. Carruthers is a retired registered nurse and continues to volunteer at Saint Lukes Hospice. She enjoys a stable and productive retirement, organizing and leading depression seminars and Bible study groups. Corrine Vanderwerff, who contributed to The Teeter Totter, is a freelance writer residing in Sherwood Park, Alberta.
The Teeter Totter
Author: Sharon Carruthers
Question: Why did you decide to write The Teeter Totter?
Sharon Carruthers: The Bipolar depressions were so terrible, I really wanted to see if by writing this book, I could help someone to accept their diagnosis earlier than I did and get treatment. So many lives could be made happier and more useful if treatment were accepted earlier. The clincher came when I woke up one morning with the book title on my mind shortly after being relieved of all symptoms of bipolar disease. No more manic episodes and no more depressions. I truly felt God wanted me to write this book no matter how difficult it would be. So, I did.
Question: Was it difficult remembering and writing about previous experiences?
Sharon Carruthers: Absolutely! I could remember all of them well but bringing the emotional part back to memory caused me to shed buckets of tears it was so painful. During the actual episodes, there were no tears so writing the book was actually cathartic.
Question: When were you first diagnosed?
Sharon Carruthers: When I was about 30. However, I did not accept the diagnoses until I was 40 and went for treatment, was put on medication, and never went off it. This was why I was able to practice my profession of nursing for 45 years even though I had bipolar disease. My Psychiatrist informed me that it takes ten years from diagnosis until a person truly accepts the fact that they have bipolar disease. It was certainly true for me, even though I had wicked cycles of both mania and depression and got myself in trouble durring manic attacks, I could not accept the fact that I was mentally ill for ten years after diagnosis.
Question: What treatment do you currently use?
Sharon Carruthers: I am on Seroquel XR 100 mgms every evening as well as wellbutrin,100 mgms every morning.
Question: How does your mental illness affect you on a daily basis?
Sharon Carruthers: With the above medication, I have no mood swings; however, I am humbled daily and can never forget that without those medications, I would again be mentally ill. I know I will always have bipolar disease, and I still hate it. But, I accept the fact of having this disease, can live with it, and no longer have to carry such a dark secret which is very freeing.
Interview by Brooke Hunter