So, I have good old bipolar 2. I was diagnosed about a year ago *for sure* but I’ve had other doctors suspect it or hit me with the diagnosis and other questionable diagnoses previously over the years when they were fresh out of McDonald’s U or when we built about as much trust as I have for a new mechanic telling calling me “Sweetie” and telling me I owe $3,000 for a part I can’t find on Google. None of these docs really knew me – I tend to call BS on anyone making a diagnosis faster than it takes me to read an article in Psychology Today. I have been harmed by professionals’ incompetencies over the years way more than I have been helped. The doc I see now was conservative in his diagnosis, sent me for a second opinion and worked with me a year or two before he put me in that box.
If you don’t have “it” you probably do not have a clue. I did not really get it until I had my 4th of 5th ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) where they shock the frittata out of your brain. I’ll tell you more about that turning point sometime in the future. What I thought bipolar was is really based on a few things. I had this roommate in college who seemed classic bipolar 1. Shopping sprees, sex – lots of sex, out all night, 3 day old dark eye-makeup rings style depression. I also thought it was like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kurt Cobain, the main character in Homeland or Ian on Shameless. I thought they were crazy when I received the bipolar 2 diagnosis. I am mostly nothing like the Hollywood version.
I do not know where I end and where the illness begins. That’s important. I had a relative tell me at about 5 years old that I’m very “pouty.” I remember that comment like a pine cone in the foot. I did not ever feel pouty inside in the same way that you see a child look pouty. I remember a click – a shift – a drop off a cliff. Did I have it then? I think I could have. I am an introvert and what they call “moody,” but I think I used to be INCREDIBLE at hiding it. As I have reached adulthood I care less about hiding my mood for others. I feel moods INTENSELY like how immediate grief sits in each cell. My mood changes can be triggered by not having my favorite item in the grocery store. Other times, it would not bother me whatsoever.
I am delightfully inconsistent. I had a *max* of 3 hours of sleep a night for a month (no naps). Some nights I would not sleep at all. I was not super driven, but I was steady in completing work I wanted to finish. I KNEW I had to crash at some point, but I did not know what that meant for me. I crashed. I was suicidal, extremely irritable, angry, shaky in my legs, teary, unable to rest properly, lonely, agitated, unable to process logic, achy in my whole body, binge eating, and heard static sounds a lot. Triggers came every 10 minutes instead of every few days. I gained about 20 pounds in less than 2 weeks.
What I learned from my latest depressed episode I learned that hotlines generally make situations worse because workers/volunteers are not adequately trained or skilled. Professing you are actively suicidal means a trip to the loony bin (I use that language to “take back” the stigma as a person with mental illness, not to increase it). Confidentiality and record keeping is dicey. Lying is not an effective to work through feelings of suicide. A worker once told me I “was not bad enough” to be calling and hung up abruptly. If he only knew….Similarly, mental health forums censor keywords like “depressed” and “suicide” so they cause me more angst because I cannot express myself accurately. Crisis chat is similar to the phone but slower. Pretty much I learned that it is a really, really bad idea to need acute care where I live. I need to avoid getting that low again, if possible. I must get help to take my meds correctly because I cannot do it on my own during those times.
What I did right One thing I did do right was telling my friends that I was unwell. I told about 10 of them, and 2 or 3 were really there for me. I know that my other friends were in spirit. My partner is so loyal, and it pains me that I hurt him when I am unwell especially when thoughts of suicide hammer at my guts. I do have a bit of energy when I am depressed (sometimes), and next time I need to give it to him. He keeps everything going when I am unwell, and he emotionally supports me extensively. I think it could impact him less if I can still do chores that help keep the household going.