It’s been some time since I’ve sat down to write. The last time I posted, I wrote about how I was slipping into another “funk”, but attempted to maintain some positivity and insight – trying to convince myself more than my readers.
That particular “funk” turned into a Major Depressive Episode. Not anything I haven’t dealt with frequently throughout my life. I was diagnosed Major Depression and Anxiety when I was 19. However, this time I actually took my own advice and sought the appropriate treatment. It wasn’t easy, but necessary. The feeling of “I’m so tired of this roller coaster” was real, and raw, and desperate.
What followed was a complete overhaul in my medications, a diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder, and a plethora of introspection and reflection.
Two years ago, I had another psychiatrist suggest I was Bipolar – and at the time in a “Mixed State”. Here’s the thing though, I was in the middle of a torturous separation and attempting to re-define who I was, as a woman and a mother. My therapist at the time agreed with me that it was my situation causing an uproar – an identity crisis – not Bipolar Disorder.
Things have “settled down” in regards to my supposed identity crisis, but I was still burdened with the intense mood swings and recurrent depression. This time, I took my time. I absorbed it. My psychiatrist gave me the book “Bipolar, Not So Much” which happens to be written by Chris Aiken, MD who runs the Mood Treatment Center where I have sought treatment.
Desperate for a resolution, for some stability, I went home that night and began to read. But not just skim, or skip the parts that made me uncomfortable. I absorbed it, I resonated with it, I finally understood what it was that was causing this turmoil all of these years.
I think the reason I always denied the possibility of Bipolar is because I know SO MANY people who are Bipolar, and I couldn’t relate myself to their manic highs and rage. My “highs” were desirable. They were “socially acceptable”. I was fun, energetic, infectious, creative, and productive. I was more outgoing, more fun to be around, more engaged with people and ideas. In fact, when I started this blog, I was at the beginning of one of my “highs”. I stayed up all hours of the night, I spent every waking moment obsessed with the idea that I could grow some massive audience and make money and change lives.
But my highs also had some destruction. Mostly in relation to financial irresponsibility, jumping into new relationships, insatiable sex drive, and impulsive BIG life decisions. Even the people closest to me weren’t always aware of this hidden destruction. For example, last spring I took out a 10,000 dollar loan, moved in with a guy I had just met 2 months prior, and spent it all in 6 weeks. Holy crap, right? I’m still paying for that mistake.
……What comes up, must come down. And the higher I fly, the deeper I fall. As I have gotten older these cycles have been more dramatic and more erratic. Depression is where I’ve spent most of my adult life. Hiding behind a facade of fake smiles while deeply yearning to crawl in my bed and never return. Depression is ugly. It’s not desirable. It’s not fun. It’s socially unacceptable. It’s lonely.
How can someone with so much ambition and life one moment not be able to shower for days the next? One moment there’s endless possibilities and ideas and creativity and confidence and the next there’s self doubt, self hatred, guilt, and no desire to do or be anything. It’s emotionally numbing. It’s exhausting. The body aches in places you didn’t know existed and walking feels like treading through molasses. Everything FEELS so heavy, so hard, so dramatic.
And the worst part? Everything you love in life is suddenly reduced to nothing.
You can’t imagine the guilt of a single mother who physically cannot get out of bed, praying for someone to take her child somewhere because she is so numb and exhausted and defeated and sad.
And then knowing, that your child sees you in this state of nothingness, confused and angry that you just won’t get up. Listening to her call you “lazy” for the 10th time that week and not having the ability to explain to this innocent child that you wish this were “lazy”. You wish this were just a choice, a decision you could make to stop.
But you can’t. You can’t just “snap out of it”. You can’t make it stop. And that’s the most defeating part of it all.
So, this is me. Some people can’t believe it. Others say they knew it all along. And now I’m committed to maintaining some sense of stability. It’s not easy. I’ve been on Lamictal for 2 months now and I can say that I have noticed a huge difference. But I still feel – kind of – Blah.
My therapist had an analogy that resonated with me.
With Bipolar, when your hypomanic/manic, it’s like you’re driving 100 miles an hour on the interstate. You’re going so fast that you miss so much around you. With depression you hit a dead stop. All of a sudden you’re at 0 miles an hour and there’s no progress. But with medication and coping skills I can realistically expect to go about 50 miles per hour – with the rest of traffic. In this state you are still progressing, still moving forward, but you are slow enough to notice things around you.
50 miles per hour is better than 0, but it takes adjusting from 100.
So it’s a learning curve. It’s allowing myself the time and space to create the routine and put the pieces of my life together so that they minimize my destruction and cycles. I know it won’t be easy, but I do know it will be worth it.
I’ve included some pictures of a “homework assignment” I did for my therapist. It’s deeply personal and includes some coping techniques that she and I came up with. I’m not sure if it will be helpful for anyone, but it helps me to expose myself and be honest.
I’ve also included a link below to the book I have been reading, “Bipolar, Not So Much” by Chris Aiken, MD. If you’re unsure if you are on the Mood Spectrum, or are recently diagnosed I highly recommend it. It has been incredibly enlightening for me.
Disclosure: This is an amazon affiliate link so I do get a percentage of your purchase if you decide to buy it.
Thank you for allowing me to share this story. My hope is that I can continue to write as it is very therapeutic – and in some way by being honest I can help someone else.
One Flawsome Momma