This post is in response to The Daily Post’s one-word prompt: Survival
I have a bipolar disorder.
This week, I met with my psychiatrist, aka my drug dealer, for a med check. The last time I saw her was seven weeks ago. I haven’t missed her because at some point after my last visit it was clear to me that the dosage we settled on was working. The renewal of spring not long after that appointment lifted my spirits, which lent itself to even more wellness. On top of all that, I have had four appointments with my therapist, who has been invaluable in my recovery. I feel happy and stable.
Going into my appointment I was hoping I could give my doctor a quick update, respond with straightforward answers to her questions, walk out with three months supply of my medicine, and say “See ya!” until August. Unexpectedly, she asked to see me back in a month because she thinks I can, possibly, be doing even better than I am now.
How is that possible? Could my treatment get any better than this?, I thought to myself.
I’m not going to say I am 100% happy all the time, but I feel stable and good and calm and like I couldn’t ask for anything better, given the rough roads I have been down. Those rocky, unstable roads that wreaked havoc on my life for months — years, even, at times.
Further considering her suggestion that my treatment could get even better, I wondered if maybe she is right. After all I have only been feeling good for about a month now. Can I sustain it? Is there more goodness beyond that?
She told me that I should not feel like a failure if in a month she increases my medicine again. I told her I wouldn’t. I know enough about bipolar disorder now that taking medicine has nothing to do with failure and everything to do with well-being. My resisting or trying to get by on as little medication as possible in the past did not serve me well.
Still — the thought of another increase made me want to roll my eyes. I am doing good. Why toy with that? But my doctor really has me thinking, because if I could do even better, than why wouldn’t I want that? I mean, the goal is to do as “better” as possible, right?
My doctor mentioned another (possible) increase because I told her that I still have surges of high, frenzied energy (mild mania). So what, I thought, I love my energy. But then I got to thinking about how it feeds my anxiety because I try to plow through a gazillion things at once. Trying to do too many things at once never turns out well and leaves me irritable and frustrated.
I then told her that I guess I wouldn’t know what another increase in medication would do for me. She seemed to like this response because, to her, if we increase and it doesn’t feel right (I definitely have the awareness now to know when things are “off”) then we would go back to my current dosage and I would stay there.
Hmm. Makes sense.
I agreed to see her again in a month. So much for “See ya!” in August.
At the end of the day I want my best self to shine. And as much as a small part of me still loathes being dependent on medication and a psychiatrist, I realize that it is the only way I can see more light.
I have a chemical imbalance and it needs to be treated.
When I started this blog and opened up about being bipolar, I quickly learned that I am not alone. There are other people, that while their experiences are different from mine, have the same diagnosis as me, similar symptoms, and struggles.
On Tuesday I discovered that Jenn Marshall, a powerhouse in fighting stigmas against mental illness, blogged anonymously for 18 months before going public and attaching her name to her story/illness. What’s more is that, like me, she has a bipolar disorder and suffered from postpartum psychosis. AND she is my age. Holy-someone-like-me!
Her campaign This Is My Brave interests me. Maybe someday I’ll attach my name to mental illness or be brave enough to tell my story. One thing is for sure — now is not my time. I’m still “in” this thing, trying to treat it, accept it, understand it, delve into the traumas that led to my diagnosis, and continue therapy.
My psychiatrist asked me about my wish to advocate for people affected by mental illness. I told her that my desire is still there, but that I know now I am not ready. She smiled and agreed. The last five months have taught me so much about having a bipolar disorder. Mostly I’ve learned that I am who I am and that I like who I am in spite of having a mental illness.
Over the summer I want to slow down my rapid pace toward wellness. I have made so much progress. I WILL get there, but I don’t want this process to swallow me up. My current plan is to keep taking my medicine, see my psychiatrist next month, and go to therapy once a month over in June, July, and August. I feel good about this plan.
I feel like I am winning.
Could my treatment get any better than this?
I have no idea, but I’ll embrace that uncertainty while thriving and surviving one day at a time.