Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Bipolar 101

I decided a couple of months ago that I would share the fact that I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder here on my blog.  It has taken me all this time to write about it, partly because it's been quite a process of getting treatment and coming to terms with my new 'label'.  I guess I felt confused and uncomfortable.  It's still such early stages for me, although I've lived with the symptoms for as long as I can remember, I've never dealt with management of the 'condition'.  (I no longer refer to Bipolar as an illness.  It makes me sound like an invalid, and I certainly don't feel like one. More on that at a later stage.)
I'm guessing I will slowly reveal the whole picture here as it evolves, it's difficult to sit and write a chronological history of how this all began.  I'm on meds at the moment, it took months to achieve stability and it didn't last long, I've been riding the bipolar coaster for the last couple of months and as a result, it seems my life has had many automatic restarts.  It affects me that way, I forget the depressions, I forget the stable times, I only remember hypomania because it is the state that makes me feel alive.  So at the moment I feel well - I'm positive, I'm perky and my nearest and dearest are looking at me sideways.
When you have Bipolar Disorder, it is an extremely dirty word to say you want to be in a hypomanic state.  There is good reason for this, mania is the state that can remain at a manageable level before spiralling out of control, landing someone in hospital, or it can crash into a crippling depression. I've never experienced any of those things.  My experience so far, has been relatively mild.  I'm naturally low energy. As my husband says, when I'm hypomanic, I have the energy of a normal person.  When I first went on medication, it knocked the hypomania right out of me and I was left with a level of depression I hadn't experienced before.  Even when I was stable, it was nice to have a bit of a holiday from the seesawing emotions, but who wants to be on holiday forever?  This kind of thinking really upsets my Doc.  I can't help picturing him as 'The Big Bad Wolf' in an immaculate suit in my mind now because he referred to himself as 'The Big Bad Doctor' when I was describing how I felt. I think he gets kinda grumpy because every Bipolar patient pleads to have the depressions taken away and to let the manias remain.  I don't think of him like that, I appreciate having a doc who calls things how they are. He's my sounding board because he has great  knowledge of Bipolar but only I have knowledge of myself.
Anyhoo, I'm trying to say in a very long winded fashion that finding out you have a mental disorder is not a simple process of diagnosis, treatment and wellness.  My loved ones probably don't want to hear that sometimes I like my BP, I have intense spiritual, aesthetic, creative moments while hypomanic, I always have. It is part of who I am.  I certainly don't advocate not treating Bipolar but we must never forget there is a person behind the label.  

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