Being Bipolar

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I guess it’s that time.  I’m going to admit that I’m bipolar.  And I fight it . . . on a daily basis.  I don’t really keep it a secret in my life.  I would spend way more energy hiding it than I would be able to spend coping with it.

The good thing about a bipolar diagnosis (at least for me) was that it was finally the RIGHT diagnosis.

Not long after The Boy was born, it became obvious that I was suffering from sort of mental illness.  Looking back, I think it’s really been for most of my life.  But, a family doctor pegged it as anxiety (GAD – General Anxiety Disorder) and the path to eventually being labeled as bipolar began.

I went years with the GAD diagnosis.  We were constantly adjusting my meds.  It seemed like something would work for a while (I think the longest time was about a year) and then was no longer effective.

Finally, the straw broke the camel’s back.  Another family physician had changed my meds and then she went on vacation.  Unfortunately, I went off the rails.  After a big fight with The Hubby, I stormed off to clear my mind.  This wasn’t unusual for me.  What happened though shed some light.  I was sitting at the pond behind our house.  I became convinced the pond was whispering to me.  It kept telling me that I should just swim out to the middle, let go and all of the pain would go away.

Fully clothed, I went to the spot that I was convinced the pond wanted me to go to and slowly walked in.  Once I got to the drop off point, I swam to the middle of the pond.  At that time of year, the water was pretty cool.  I stopped swimming.  I was so relieved that all of the stress of life would wash away.  Fortunately, it is very hard to drown yourself on purpose.  Seems kind of ironic when you hear of all of the accidental drowning deaths that happen.

I managed to swim back to shore, go home, change my clothes and go to bed.  I had been gone for several hours.

The next evening, The Hubby wanted to know what had happened.  He knew something was wrong.  I confessed to him the whole episode.  I didn’t know it was an episode at the time.  It had made perfect sense that the pond had whispered promises to me.

A friend of the family (who is a doctor) was called first thing in the morning.  He was in California but took the call and helped The Hubby (and friends) decide what to do next even though I wasn’t his patient.  He only knew me on a social basis.

His thought was that the change in meds had made me suicidal.  I stopped those meds and he made room in his appointment calendar as soon as he got back.

After a long interview (and he is a general physician, not a mental health one) he told me that he was fairly certain that I was bipolar.  He explained the different kinds, which one he thought I was and gave me his frame of reference for his thoughts.  He sent me immediately to a psychiatric nurse.

Once I had met with her, a diagnosis was confirmed.  I am bipolar with major depressive disorder.  You see, even though I have anxiety and have the manic periods, I wasn’t being treated with the right combo of meds because nobody (including me) was catching the depression.

I’d like to say everything has been unicorns and rainbows since then.  But, they haven’t been.  Changes in meds or very stressful situations seem to aggravate the whole bipolar issue.  I’ve had an actual suicide attempt since my diagnosis.  I don’t count the pond episode as one because it wasn’t a rational thought process.  I didn’t want to end my life . . . I was hallucinating.

Back the suicide attempt.  Having read enough about attempts, and not wanting mine to be a failed attempt, I decided that I would take as many of one of my prescriptions as I could.  I planned it out over several hours.  I didn’t want to throw up any of the pills and abort the effort.

At some point later (much later) in the day, it became obvious to family members that I was missing.  An informal search party found me way back in the woods on our property . . . in my bra and underwear.  I still don’t know why I was in the woods or not fully dressed.

This resulted in an involuntary stay in a mental health facility.  Having all of your personal freedoms taken away really sucks.  Also, not being allowed to be alone for some time after leaving the facility really sucks.

I do have to say that the bipolar diagnosis really did change the quality of my life . . . for the better.  And thanks to caring and observant friends and family, I live a mostly normal life . . . as long as I stay on my meds.

Peace, Love & Better Living Through Chemistry

Hoosier Barn Chick

 

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