Bipolar am I: Coming to terms with my diagnosis

I met with my therapist this morning. Only the second time, but I’m calling her “my” therapist because I think it’s going to work out. She listened to me ramble and gave me some insight. Yay therapist for doing your job!

The most important thing I walked away with today was a decision about whether or not to tackle the Rubbermaid bin filled with my journals from through the years, including the really crazy ones that I wrote in during psychotic episodes (two) and stashed in shame with artifacts that were important to me while hospitalized.

I have looked for answers about my illnesses — Bipolar I and anxiety — since April 2011 when I received the diagnosis, as a result of postpartum psychosis. I think back and go… Wow, it was almost five years ago and I am finally coming to terms with this?! What the fuck took me so long? And then I change my tune by thinking… Holy shit, this is a fucking miracle… I am finally confronting my illness, accepting it, and writing about it… Yay for me… Party time!! 

I have had so many breakthroughs lately and although exhausting, because they are coming at me from all different directions, here are a few things I am learning…

  1. In talking to a good friend she mentioned that it seems like “this time around” (I’ve been hypomanic, but not psychotic like I was after childbirth) it seems like it is HEALING not damaging. I mean I cried in the middle of my yoga class last night. Eye closed, tears streaming down my face, and smiling on the inside because of how much I am learning. And how fucking free I feel.
  2. For the first time I got on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website and read about bipolar. Hard to believe that its taken me this long to read informative, factual information and have many “Aha!” moments. It’s like I, myself, have lived with stigmas and partial information. Obviously I knew a few things about bipolar, but mostly only what came out of doctor’s mouths and from my husband, who God Bless him read all the information on bipolar and psychosis years ago and has had to live with my stubborn denial. [Sorry ’bout that, babe. Glad you are revisiting information me. Let’s go on a vacation and celebrate my craziness, because everything I read makes me think, Yep, that’s me… that’s me, too… wow, that’s me again!]
  3. Then I started thinking about my poor family who has never turned their backs on me through the years, but often has a hard time being around me when I am anxious or manic or depressed. Well no wonder, they aren’t fucking mind-readers, and since I haven’t ever really told them about my condition they must be totally lost. Obviously they have read between the lines a little, but I am in the process of being straight forward with my illness to my close family and friends – about 10-12 people or so — that can really support me and help me and understand me better. I sent the NAMI link to one of my brothers yesterday and confessed to him about my illness. Starting with him felt so good. In just a few sentences I told him the basics about my diagnosis and then directed him to a professional site that can give him information without him having to listen to me talk in disorganized circles and become emotional and lead him to walk away going, She is fucking crazy. At least now when he walks away and goes, She is fucking crazy…. he can add, Cool. I get it now. But I don’t really know what he thinks because guess what? I’m not a fucking mind reader either! It’d be cool if I was though.

As far as what I decided to do with all my journals and artifacts — I decided that I am not going to discard them. But I did pick them all up from being scattered throughout my office. I lovingly placed them back in the bin. I didn’t put the top on because they still need light and air (says me), but it’s too triggering for me to delve into them at this point. I have my hubby and kiddos to hang with instead of them right now. I need time, more therapy, and possibly more medication. I have gotten by on VERY LITTLE medication for the last year, and the more I come to terms with my diagnosis, the more I realize that a bit more medication alongside quality and focused time with my family, writing, yoga, running, relations with my husband, and spreading awareness is a powerful recipe for my future. Now to let my doctors and family help me get to that point.

THEN I am going to write long-form essays or a book about what I’ve learned when I can think clearly, center my message, illustrate my points with research and maybe even parenthetical citations (nerd at heart). I am going to read other blogs and connect with others who have bipolar, because I am certainly not alone. A community of people exists that I can connect with and learn from, outside of books. People who know what the hell I am talking about, instead of my poor family, who for years has probably been like, “What the fuck are you talking about?” as I have cryptically skated around my illness. In this moment, I’m suddenly like, DUH, I REALLY AM CRAZY. Just tell them and they will be so relieved!

The last thing I will say, is that I will most definitely be able to relax about all of this someday. Already, I am. I have made a few “crazy” jokes, but I decided that people like me have gained the privilege. What’s difficult is that people throw the term bipolar around loosely. “Oh I am so bipolar today!” some people say about their normal highs and lows, but meanwhile I am sitting there thinking, ME, too. Accept no, I really am… and I’ve got the papers to prove it.

Being bipolar is part of who I am. It’s a chemical imbalance beyond my control, yet in my control all at the same time because there is so much help available. It’s time for me to tap into more of that. And then to share information about mental illness with the rest of the world. Awareness from every angle is everything.

Anybody with me?

5 thoughts on “Bipolar am I: Coming to terms with my diagnosis

  1. I’m finally coming to terms with my diagnosis a whopping 7 years after I was informed I had bipolar.
    I think you’re doing amazingly well.

    Life with bipolar disorder can be fulfilling – the key is to find whatever helps you stay stable and then guard those tools ferociously. Returning to my writing roots and finding the WordPress bipolar community helped me immensely.

    Moms/writers living with bipolar disorder can thrive. As a former “worst case scenario”, I’m living proof that’s true.I shared a bit of my journey here with Dr. Laurie Hollman:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-hollman-phd/a-successful-working-moth_b_8980628.html

    Liked by 1 person

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