As I previously stated in my last post, I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder. Since Monday I have been on a cycle of intense crying and sadness, mixed with feelings of confidence. I realized during my reflections that I have had this disorder for a very long time. This may even go back to my adolescent years.
See, when someone has bipolar disorder they experience moods of “highs” and “lows”, but to the extreme. I read an article that discussed what the symptoms of both were and I was astounded by what I was reading. In the moods of being manic or hypomanic (the “high”) someone can be irritable for no reason, seek risky behaviors (over spending, sexual activities), overconfident, and feeling like they need to talk for no reason. During a mania the brain cannot understand that these behaviors are inappropriate. Over the years I have seen many of these symptoms in myself, but always thought they were related to anxiety, and while I was worried, I made decisions that were harmful but never felt bad about them.
The other feeling is depression (the “lows”). During a depressive episode someone who is bipolar is often misdiagnosed as just having depression. During the depressive moods you feel extremely sad, loose interest in activities that you used to love, have thoughts of self-harm or feeling like you shouldn’t exist in this world any longer, and feel like you are worthless to everyone else around you. There are other symptoms like loss of sleep by feeling you do not need to sleep or undereating that causes your body to be unhealthy.
Since starting my medication on Monday I have begun to have more moments of feeling level. And by level I mean not manically crying and not being happy, but in a more neutral state. I have had trouble eating this week (only consuming about 500 calories a day), so that is been my main focus to try to find food that sounds good to me. This task is difficult, because I find myself in a constant state of nausea, and lack the motivation to push myself further. I’m not sure how this medication is supposed to make me feel, but if it allows me to control more of where my moods end up, then this will be a win.
I also saw a new primary care physician yesterday. She was the sweetest human being on the planet, and when she saw me crying in the exam room she immediately gave me a hug and told me I was too beautiful to be upset. She offered words of encouragement that the plan of treatment I have developed is a good idea. The main reason I had behind having a primary care physician on my care team was so that I have a medical professional aware of any complications or issues beyond my mental health. Having a balance of care is extremely important, especially when dealing with medications that change your brain chemistry.
I have felt like a hypocrite this week, because I started taking medication. In previous blogs I was adamant that I was able to control all of my anxiety issues solely through talk therapy. The truth is sometimes our brains are unbalanced chemically beyond our control. Mental health is thought of as a separate area of healthcare, but it is no different from someone treating diabetes or heart disease. I had to accept this week that I am allowed to grieve, because this is like any other major disease diagnosis. There will never be a time in my life where I will not be bipolar. This disorder will be a part of me the rest of my life, but I have good faith that I can manage my symptoms.
I am terrified of the stigmas that surround mental health disorders and having people think I am crazy or not worth giving a chance to love. I know historically I have been labeled a “crazy girlfriend” or “clingy”, but I know now that it was not my fault. I was unable to control my emotions and moods, but I vow to get better and live my life just like everyone else. I do not want my emotions to go away; I just hope there will be a time where I am in more control. I am doing this work for ME and not for anyone else, because the people in your life that are worth having around will stay by your side.