I have written about being Bipolar before but so much has happened since that first post. It’s May, the month of Mental Illness Awareness. I just watched All The Bright Lights. A A movie that I felt represented me my struggles so well. I have been unable to do my usual release activity of going to the movies due to a World Wide pandemic. So after weeks of being stuck at home my anxiety is high to say the least.
It’s not that I enjoy going out because I don’t. I enjoy the the movies because I can sit in the dark with very few people around me and focus on someone else’s life for 2 hours. It’s cathartic for me. There is something different about choosing to stay inside your home and being told that you HAVE to stay inside your home. It is not the same thing and has very strong feelings of being trapped with it.
Anyway, just in case you missed my original post I have treatment resistant Bipolar. I say treatment resistant because of how many different medications I have had to be on and how many times I have fallen into a spiral of darkness. My old doctor, who treated me for almost a decade, had to retire due to medical issues but she used to tell me everytime a medication that had been working suddenly stopped working that I had the best Liver ever. It was her attempt to explain the unexplainable and to try and cheer me up.
My last hospital stay was February 2019. Since March 2019, with some tweeking, I have been able to manage my Bipolar with the help of a new Doctor, a good amount of medication, and a therapist. I’ve had highs during this period where I spend way to much money, start projects that are likely not going to be finished, and lose my temper far to often over the simplest things. However, I have had no significant lows which for me is a good thing because those are the worst. The thing about me that’s important to understand is that I don’t miss doctors’ appointments. Whether I am extremely low or really high I still show up and try to act like what they are doing is working because I want to make them happy with my progress so unfortunately this means sometimes my husband has to go with me to tell them what’s really going on.
I was officially diagnosed in 2007 after my first hospitalization for suicidal thoughts. It was a bittersweet diagnosis. It was so eye opening learning what Bipolar was because it explained so much about why I was the way I was, why I suffered from such drastic mood swings, and why sometimes I felt like I could do anything without consequences and other times I felt like dying was the only way to escape the pain. At the same time this was something that would never change. I would always be Bipolar just as I had always been Bipolar before my diagnosis. There is no cure. No magic surgery or pill that can make me better. Make me normal.
My children have lived with a Mama who would take them to midnight movie premiers, give them dessert before dinner, let them stay up as late as they wanted too during sleepovers or summer. They have also lived with a Mama that would bite their heads off over nothing or have a complete mental breakdown over not having Modge Podge (seriously happened). They know a Mama who at times couldn’t even get out of bed to send them off to school or greet them when they got home. I have laid in bed for days at a time so depressed I couldn’t even function. My lowest point was a few years ago.
Steven had just gone to college and Jake was in elementary school and I reached what was and has been my lowest point living with this disease. I lost almost a whole year due to severe Bipolar depression. I went to places without even remembering being there or knowing how I got there. It was at my nephew’s birthday party that my family began to realize what my husband and younger son had already known, that something was terribly wrong with me. I was like a zombie. I was on probably nine different pills at this time none of which were working, and I had no emotions, memories, or comprehension of what was going on with me or around me at this time. When my doctor finally felt like she had exhausted all options she told my husband I would need to have ECT. Electro Current Therapy. Yes, what they used to do asylum patients. She wanted to shock my brain back into existence. Granted ECT has come very far since asylum days it is still a last resort method. It comes with lots of side effects.
For two months a couple of times a week I was put under anesthesia and my brain had electric currents sent through it. I had to quit it when I stopped being able to control my own bladder. I couldn’t physically or mentally take it anymore. I had lost several years of short term memory. I couldn’t remember trips I had taken, or people I had met and known for a while, or even how to know when I needed to pee. I was exhausted and my brain was so foggy. I didn’t think at the time that ECT had helped me at all because it still took months afterward to start feeling like myself again but I honestly I can’t say where I would be today had I not done it.
It’s now 2020 and I am much more aware of how important it is to tell people when I feel off and I know not to stop taking my medications on my own. These are things I have struggled with in the past. I also struggled with my Faith for a long time. I couldn’t understand why I was being punished by God. I struggled with the “Why Me” until I started asking myself “Why Not Me”. No one deserves to suffer from mental illness. Having a mental illness does not mean God loves you any less than someone who functions at a normal level. Mental Illness is no joke though. I am very blessed to have a supportive group of family in my life (my best friend is family) who checks up on me, who isn’t afraid to go to the doctor with me when they feel something is off, who don’t judge me by my mood swings but instead love me through them. I have Bipolar. I will probably be suicidal again. I will probably spend thousands of dollars on stuff I don’t need. I will probably scream at my husband and kids when they don’t deserve it. I will probably shut people out for no reason. I am pretty sure my days in the mental hospital are not over. But the difference between the 2020 me and the 2007 me is that I know I am greater than my ups and downs. I also know that God is fighting the battles that I don’t have the energy to fight and He will be with me until I am called Home. 💜✌️