Those that have been with me on this blogging journey for a while know that I have been self aware of almost all of my problems my entire life. I had even started to give my demons names. Names like:
Calling them “quirks”.
Lists upon lists of my symptoms and feelings.
I had eventually learned how to handle and work around this “quirks” of mine and live my life as what I felt would simply be how my life would go. Until it started getting in the way more than it ever had before.
I was not going out to see friends, I wasn’t even speaking to people. For over a month and a half my phone was on ‘airplane’ mode. Nothing in, nothing out. Then, I was having trouble working. Finishing a shift was a nightmare and I felt very weak by the end of even the first half of my shift. Soon enough, I couldn’t work a single shift at all. Just the thought terrified me.
So, I sought help.
Went to see a psychiatrist recommended by a friend and had taken along a few sheets of paper from a legal pad where I had written down to the best of my abilities all my symptoms and problems.
On that day of March 31st in the year 2014, I was diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder.
It kind of sent me for a loop and yet it didn’t at the same time. I was familiar with the illness. Many of my non blood related sibling that my mother had taken in were diagnosed as Bipolar.
I took the psychiatrist at their word and believed that yes, indeed, I was Bipolar.
The problem was convincing myself that I was Bipolar.
I didn’t figure out why this was such an issue until yesterday during my appointment with Peach (my online nickname for my psychologist).
As I had mentioned before, I was listing all my problems singularly as they came along. Lists after lists. Points after points. I simply could not understand how so many pages, so many entries could be wrapped up in this one little box that is Bipolar Disorder.
To help me come to terms, Georgia Peach went through a diagnostic exam asking me all the questions that would prove whether or not I was in fact Bipolar. Questions about kleptomania, obviously about moods, anger, depression, energy, insomnia and Obsessive Compulsive tendencies.
It definitely did help and it was in the middle of this evaluation that it hit me.
Poor Georgia Peach was slightly confused when all of a sudden I gasped and said, “I get it. I understand.”
Usually I try very, very hard not to interrupt people (one of my “rules”) and yet here I had. I excused myself and urged her to continue with what she was doing. After finishing reviewing the examination, I told her.
“And there you go. I knew you were a smart cookie.”
Bipolar Disorder, especially being diagnosed as Bipolar Severe, is something that will never, ever go away.
You can treat it. You can develop tools and ways on how to handle your episodes as they come.
You may be successful or you may not be successful.
But I have the power now to try. I have the power to do everything I can to actually try working with this illness.
Before, that power was unavailable to me.
But now I have it and now I am ready. Bipolar is not a disease a lot of people understand.
“Mood swings? You call what just happened with the excuse of a mood swing?”
Well, yeah, but it is more than that.
As mental health comes more and more into the light, there is some understanding and easing of the stigma that clouds mental illnesses like a miasma.
But Bipolar Disorder is one of the disorders that continues to remain misunderstood.
And because of this, it isn’t something you can easily share. Not with friends, not with coworkers or even family.
So far… in my personal circle I can count on one hand how many people know about my recent diagnosis and I intend to only share it if it is indeed very necessary.
Just remember though, I have the power to live my life without this demon on my back.