Bipolar disorder. There. I said it. It’s what I have…my particular flavor of brain cooties. I have ups. I have downs. I also have a somewhat “normal” state. One thing I’ve learned over the past few years, though, is that bipolar disorder is different for each person who suffers from it. My own variety is mine, unique, particular to me.
I didn’t understand this for a long time, to tell the truth. When I was first diagnosed roughly 13 years ago, I didn’t even realize that there are two distinct “varieties” of bipolar disorder. There’s bipolar I which is what most people think of when they think of bipolar disorder. The manias are wild, bright, colorful rides without needing much more than a nap. Of course, there are also the lows.
Then there’s bipolar II, which I have. With bipolar II, the highs are less intense, in general, but the lows
…oh, those lows. They’re killer. Literally. The successful suicide rate of bipolar II is very high. Everything is drained of color, like a black and white movie that’s been colorized to shades of gray. Or an abandoned amusement park. There are other types of bipolar disorder, and many within the medical community are now seeing bipolar as being on a spectrum rather than being distinct types. Personally, from what I’ve learned, that would make more sense.
I cohabitated peacefully with my diagnosis for a few years. I mean, I had lived with it for all of my adult life and then some without even realizing I had it. Once diagnosed, I did seek treatment. But that treatment didn’t stop me from having my little mini-highs and two to three day lows. As I mentioned, the rest of the time I was pretty much even keel. But then something began to change. I was in school full time, and loving it. Have I told you I adore being in school? Well, I do. But suddenly I had no energy. Taking a shower was a monumental task. Completing assignments for school, well, it got done, but just by the hair of my chinny chin chin.
Then the semester ended. And I crashed. I never had crying spells before during my mini down periods. Suddenly, though, I was crying non stop. And this was going on for weeks! There were a lot of external sources of stress adding to my organic plague and it all came together in a perfect storm. I crashed. I was hospitalized in what was fortunately a marvelous facility with staff that cared. And I’ve already written about the “Quiet Room”, so you know something of my experiences there. It’s too bad all psychiatric facilities aren’t as good as that one.
This occurred ten years ago and I’ve tried to go back to school, but my focus is off. My memory is pitiful. Until I feel that little nudge saying “It’s time”, I’ll hold off. Meanwhile, I’m actually fairly stable, and it scares me to say that! I haven’t been stable in ten years. Now that I am, I’m scared of going off track again. Plus, I miss the feeling of hypomania. Such a wonderful, euphoric feeling most of the time, but I absolutely do not miss the lows. Those killer lows. I’m on a mood stabilizer which keeps me from feeling the extremes. I think our recent move is also a positive thing for me. I miss the trees around our previous home, but I do like being able to look out the window and see neighboring cows wandering the hillside and Christmas lights on a nearby house. I can do laundry without having to trek down into the dungeon, whoops, I mean basement. (Lifting imaginary glass.) Here’s to you. May you be finding success at what passes for stability in your life, too.