You know those wild fires that burn out of control every year here in the U.S. ? They rage for days, possibly weeks, while firefighters and rangers work overtime to try and control the blaze, possibly contain it so it doesn't spread. They cost millions of dollars worth of damage and alter the lives of those affected forever.
That's what Bipolar Disorder is like.
Especially rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder type II.
It's a fire, full of unconstrained emotions and hormones that rage like a wildfire, consuming your entire being physically, mentally, and emotionally. Sometimes it's triggered by an external source, others it's something internal that ignites the spark. Much like the wildfires that burn across the West, it's a fire that can burn out of control...it's takes finding the right combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes to put the fire out or at a minimum help it die down to a manageable state. If it rages too long, it can cause damage to the person suffering from it and to those around them. It burns. It's painful. It's a hard battle to fight.
I've been referring to BP lately as a dragon. Ironically, I happen to LOVE the movie "How to Train Your Pet Dragon" and when I think about living with this disorder, that's what I envision: A roaring, raging, fire breathing, dragon that can thrash around and cause chaos and destruction in my life if I don't learn how to do the following:
- Find out what triggers her (yes, it's a she....cause I'm a she. Duh)
- What stirs up the fire in her
- What she likes/dislikes
- What helps her stay content in her cave...asleep, dormant
Remember the scenes in the movie where Hiccup and his other Vikings in training are in the ring, trying to battle the baby dragons? Each trainee was expected to know everything about the dragon they were to face-it's strengths, weaknesses and how to defeat it. Remember how when Hiccup befriended Toothless and learned what made him happy versus what freaked him out? Remember how Hiccup took what he learned and applied to the other dragons? That's how we've gotta handle living with something like this. Learn everything you can about it, what triggers it, and adjust our lives accordingly. There are times when no matter what preventative maintenance we do, our dragons will rage and breath fire...but if we learn how to train them? They can stay in their cave more often.
I've been reading numerous posts, articles and even had a conversation with someone who gave me hope that BP is NOT a death sentence. It may be something that we have to live with for the rest of our lives, but it doesn't have to destroy or even control every aspect of them. From what I've been reading and hearing, manageability is attainable-and for a person with BP, that's recovery. Finding what keeps it manageable and in the cave is tough, it's a battle. But once we do, and once we know what even causes it to rage, we are then properly equipped to fight the battle....and WIN.
Bipolar Disorder doesnt' have to be a big, scary, fire breathing behemoth that rages out of control in our lives....and it's kinda like a "pet" we're stuck with. Just gotta learn how to train it.
**Manic Mondays is a new series here on 'Confessions where I hope to share more insight on what it's like living with Bipolar Disorder. The goal? Raise awareness, increase understanding and help erase the shame and stigma surrounding this form of mental illness. If you'd like to guest post or share your story, email me at bconfessions (at) gmail (dot) com