Last night was a “four tissue night,” which isn’t bad considering in the past I may have coped with my feelings by having a four beer night.
Instead, I let the tears fall as I talked to my mom about all that I am learning about bipolar disorder and myself in general. I’m still trying to wrap my arms around all of this — mostly the coming out of hiding about being bipolar. I think I kind of get why they called it “coming out of the closet” when gay people started living their truths.
Finally, I am living my truth. “Coming out” if you will. At least that is what I am trying to do. It’s just taking some getting used to. Although I was diagnosed almost six years ago (?!) signs and symptoms of a bipolar disorder have been present in my life for the last 19 years.
I am starting to understand more about my personality type, too, and how that has played a role in my denial about being bipolar. I am a high-functioning, high-achieving, positive, perfectionist with OCD traits. Being bipolar doesn’t exactly fit in line with how I want people to perceive me.
But you know what?
I am who I am and the only way I am going to receive proper treatment is if I am honest. Not only that, the only way I am going to find true happiness is if I stop being who I think other people want me to be. I need to be a regular old imperfect human who happens to have a bipolar disorder.
There are so many good resources out there about bipolar, too. So much information that is available to me to help me understand the illness. I am lucky that I live in a time when doctors know such much about bipolar, formerly called manic depression. I am lucky there is good medication and therapy and support groups.
But what hasn’t been working in my favor is that I have been wearing blinders about my illness. With blinders on, how can I possibly take advantage of all that we know about bipolar in this day-and-age?
Clearly, I have issues. (On top of issues).
The good news is that there is hope for me. Hallelujah!
The more I read about bipolar I, the one I am realizing I am pretty much textbook. Yay, my crazy is normal (Talk about an oxymoron).
I am making so much progress just being open about it to family and friends after years of hiding. Therapy and this blog and connecting with other people who have bipolar has been eye-opening. I feel so much more peaceful about it. I also feel slightly overwhelmed because I want to know more, more, more…
I wonder — how long is all of this going to take before I feel like I know enough or that I am completely rid of the denial? I know I want to turn my diagnosis and living openly with it into something positive. For me, that ultimately means writing lengthy stories about it.
Yesterday I checked out Patty Duke’s book, A Brilliant Madness Living with Manic-Depressive Illness. I am excited to delve into it. The copyright date is 1992, so I realize there is so much more information that has come out since then, but when I read the synopsis it spoke to me.
The cover jacket reads:
“As with many manic-depressives, Patty Duke’s symptoms started in her late teens. From that point on until she was correctly diagnosed at the age of thirty-five, she struggled for control of her life. At times she experienced euphoric highs: periods when she talked nonstop, was overcome by delusions, became irrationally angry, and acted impulsively for no thought of the consequences. Then, suddenly, she’d slip into debilitating, suicidal lows, periods of depression that found her cowering under the covers for weeks on end. This is the nature of manic-depressive illness: extremes of feeling and behavior that play havoc with a person’s health, relationships, career, and self-esteem.”
The great thing is that Patty Duke’s story in the book is a happy one because she gets treatment. Of course now, the illness is called bipolar disorder. I am not sure when doctors first started diagnosing people with manic depression, and I am also not sure when or why they changed the name to bipolar disorder. (Anyone? Anyone?)
These are all things I want to find out. One day at a time. And even though I get frustrated because I want to keep researching and writing today, I have two kids and a husband to think about. I don’t want to escape life like I have in the past.
Instead, and ideally, I want to make a plan where I can find the uninterrupted time and a safe place to recover and write and research (preferably not a hospital. ugg to the thought). With old wounds opening up, this is a chance for me to practice self-care and focus on my mental health in a way that I have never done before. But I am at a loss on what’s best and a realistic timeline.
I’ll figure it out tomorrow.
I guess I’ll just have to learn to live with it until then… and everyday after… 🙂