Monday, March 12, 2012
It got me to wondering exactly what kind of image we that are affected with this disorder have. Take a look at this list. How many of the people on it "look crazy?" Well maybe a few of them are pretty well known for their "craziness." But I'm willing to bet that there are also a lot of names on the list that you would have never guessed suffered from Bipolar Disorder.
When I was diagnosed it really surprised me. I thought I was only having an unusually hard time after losing my parents, my grandson, and experiencing other traumatic events during a very short period of time. It took the trauma from all of that, and more, to bring my disorder into the light.
Bipolar is usually characterized as having dramatic and unpredictable mood swings. I can look back on my life and see it now. I can trace it back to about my early teens. I remember when I was about 13 I tried to ask for help. I was depressed, felt worthless and unwanted. Some of that was from parents that did the best they could, but really had no idea how to raise kids and some of it was because of my disorder. Anyway, I circled named of psychiatrists in the phone book. I remember thinking maybe my parents would see it and some how magically I would be taken care of, that they would realize I needed help, that I needed them to care.
My dad saw the circles. He looked at me one night when the family was all together and said, "It looks like someone is trying to make us think they're crazy. What a crock of shit." I was devastated. In my family we didn't talk to our parents, they didn't talk to us. It was the only way I could think of to ask for help without talking and it was shot down. So if my parents didn't care, why should I? Don't get me wrong, my parents loved us, they were just neglectful, emotionally unavailable parents when my brothers and I were young. We had everything we needed physically, but nothing we needed emotionally.
In the family I was the one that was generally thought of as the one with poor judgement and impulsive behavior, not someone that had a condition that needed treatment. I was the one with "attention seeking behavior." Well I wonder why? I got very little attention from my parents and I, like all kids, needed it. I still have the behavior, or so I'm told, and being damn near 50 it's unlikely it's going to change.
There were dramatic ups and downs and poor judgements before, and even after, I was diagnosed. I didn't look crazy, I was just the one with the hot temper and impulsive ways. It took all of the trauma I mentioned earlier to bring everything to the surface.
I tried to numb the traumatic feelings by self medicating and running from reality. On the night that lead to my diagnosis I had taken four, only four, ambien. I wasn't trying to kill myself, I only wanted the noise to stop. I wanted to sleep. But in my hypnotic state I cut my arms. I don't remember it very well, it's all foggy and in pieces. I only cut them enough to see blood. Somehow the physical pain took away the emotional pain which was much more severe.
That night was the beginning of months of instability. My daughter was calling my friends constantly to get them to talk me through things, to help distract me from the realities of the depths of the disorder. But no one that wasn't in my very tight circle had a clue I had a serious problem.
For me, un-medicated bipolar, and the months just after diagnosis, was like walking a tight rope. I never knew which way I would fall or if I could stay the course. It was exciting and fun and then in a flash it was dark and horrifying, not only for me, but for my family as well.
Today is a much different story. My medicinal cocktail is spot on and for the most part I'm doing better than I ever have. I've been told that I promote the usage of medications. Hell, freaking yes I do and I will continue to do so. I might not be here without them, my daughter might not be here without them. So if promoting the usage of medication is what it takes, that's what I'll do.
After I was diagnosed I made the decision that I would grab the tiger by the tail and I would win, that can't happen without medication. I've slipped a few times, but I'm on the upswing. Being controlled by bipolar isn't an option for me. I'm going to control it, I'm going to kick it's ass the best I can. I'm going to help make people aware that we're not "crazy," we're humans with a very treatable condition. If I'm not mistaken there's not one person out there that doesn't have a demon or two to fight.
I've been told that riding a motorcycle and getting tattoos are "attention seeking, bipolar behaviors." Maybe they are, or maybe they're not. Maybe it's just me. I think I'll take me just as I am....flaws, motorcycles, tattoos, medications and all.
If you have a friend or family member with the disorder, educate yourself about it. Get to know what you can, be supportive, not judgemental. After all, what's your demon?