Having bipolar disorder has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride! I’ve been UP from mania, DOWN from depression, and FLAT from stability.
There never seems to be a place of equal happiness. I’ve struggled on a daily basis trying hard to manage these complex mood shifts.
When I was first diagnosed 4-years ago, I really didn’t understand what having bipolar disorder meant. I had just come out of a major manic episode when I was diagnosed. I wasn’t hospitalized but rather walked myself into a psychiatrist office.
You see a few months prior I was in the worst manic episode of my life. I thought I was invincible, spent money like it was growing on trees, got a few tattoos, ran away from home for a few days, started dating (by the way, I’m married), eventually I had an affair. I was spiraling out of control.
When the mania wore down and I was cleaning up from my manic mess, my husband and I decided to see a psychiatrist to see if I had a mental disorder. We did this due to patterns my husband had put two-and-two together.
Long story short, I was immediately diagnosed with type 1 bipolar disorder and PTSD. But my story doesn’t end there.
I went on lithium and about 3-months in I stopped (on my own accord) taking the lithium. I had decided I couldn’t live with the side effects, and convinced myself I didn’t have bipolar disorder. I thought my husband was a monster for even seeing me that way!
I lasted about 6-months until I became manic again!
I was volunteering at a friends shop for a few days, and found myself overly inundated. All of a sudden I was noticing I was elated, excitable, wanted to blow money, and had a taste for getting another tattoo, had paranoid delusions, and psychosis. Frankly, I began to feel out of control. So I kindly left to never return.
I went home and told my husband what I was feeling, and this time on my own, decided to make another appointment with a psychiatrist. I was put on medication (not lithium) to help bring me down. I was fighting an internal battle with myself.
The funny thing is until the medication kicked in, I was on a manic high. One evening I had decided to go out by myself to a midnight sale. I drove 1 1/2 hours to a department store to shop at midnight. I spent near $500!
What’s funny to me is the things I purchased: A sewing machine, cookware, a ping-pong table, movies, clothes, etc. Some were useable, but not the ping-pong table! By the way, I don’t sew either!
It took about a few weeks for the medication to kick in. By that point I had spent a lot of money on frivolous junk. I was apologizing left and right to people for doing crazy stuff. I desperately tried to make right what I had screwed up!
Finally, stability came. Though it wasn’t what I’d hope it was. Not really sure what I expected but it wasn’t as joyful as I hoped. I had gained control of my moods again, but lost my laughter, my vicarious ways, energy, and creativity. I actually felt more alone than in depression.
Not that I wanted to be manic again, just wanted to feel normal. Whatever that is.
I’ve cycled on and off medication a few times in the last 4-years but have been consistent for the last 2-years. I don’t foresee getting off my medication again, as I’m afraid of mania and the damage I do.
I’m currently on Abilify, Zyprexa, Atavan, and Trileptal. A bit of a cocktail if you ask me. But its necessary to keep me balanced. I see my psychiatrist once every month, and see my therapist every week. This consistency has really helped me stay stable.
I also suffer from severe social anxiety disorder, and S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder). But that’s a different story!
For me having bipolar disorder hasn’t been a walk in the park. Mind you I went undiagnosed since the age of 15. Again, another story. But I can say it’s really all I know. I have learned to accept my diagnosis and try my hardest to be self-aware.
This disorder is manageable and doesn’t mean the end of the world. I found it takes a lot of attention, and seriously being committed to wanting to be well, to be stable.
My goal is to be and stay stable. If not just for me, but for my family!