Mood stabilizer

Manic Monday: From Diagnosis to Acceptance

Today I'm honored and excited to have my friend Kimberly from All Work & No Play here on 'Confessions! Raw, authentic, honest, sweet, and full of saucy humor, she easily became one of my favorite people when we "met" nearly a year ago.  Reading about her diagnosis and experience with bipolar disorder led me to seek more aggressive treatment which eventually led to my own diagnosis of BP.  Please give her a warm welcome as you read her beautiful words, y'all.

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The nurse directed me back to a small room in the ER where Dr. B, my psychiatrist, was waiting.

I flashed a nervous smile, pulled my sleeves over the self-inflicted cuts on my arm and said, “I’m not doing good.”

He motioned to the chair and I sat.

“I think we need to change our plans Kim. I’m going to put you on a mood stabilizer and an anti-psychotic, ones that we use to treat people with bipolar disorder.”

“What?”

“Kim, you are bipolar.”

The magnitude of the diagnosis forcefully shook the smooth path of life that I was desperately trying to get back on.

I watched as it bent and curved and crumbled.

It grew hills and jagged mountains.

The path, once full of promise, now looked vapid; felt hauntingly uninviting.

It was too loud and too quiet.

It was too bright and too dark.

It felt too euphoric and too depressed and too angry.

It was too peaceful and too whimsical.

All at the same time.

And that light I’d been trying to reach for with all of my being, the end of my battle against postpartum depression and anxiety, was thrown so far at the end of the confusion.

I let my hope drop over the ledge of the path.

*******

Bipolar 2 disorder was devastating diagnosis and at times, I refused to believe it.

I remember walking into Dr. B’s office numerous times and asking him if I was still bipolar.

Each time he nodded his head yes.

Each time I said “damn” under my breath.

For days and weeks I kept the diagnosis a secret.

I felt very ashamed of it. So much so that I dissociated myself from the people I needed most at the time.

Even my friends from a postpartum depression support group.

I felt that I just didn’t belong there.

I felt like a freak.

Through Dr. B, I’ve learned, and now believe, that there is nothing wrong about being bipolar.

There is nothing to be ashamed of.

You have cancer.

You have diabetes.

I have bipolar 2 disorder.

So what?

I’m not my illness.

My illness isn’t me.

My name is Kimberly.

I am somebody’s sister, aunt, daughter, and granddaughter.

I am a friend.

I am a Mother.

I am a wife.

I am a nurse.

I am creative.

I am sassy.

I am ridiculously funny.

I am smart.

I am compassionate.

I am in love with Chuck Norris.

I am me.

And that is beautiful.

Just like anyone with any type of medical condition, I still struggle with my illness.  I have bumps and bruises and scars from navigating this bipolar road to prove it.

But it gets better.

And I have hopes that I can live a normal life just like the rest of ‘em.

I know I can.

I just have to keep fighting every day to get there.

And I will.

My Brain is Exploding...Into a Thousand Manic Pieces

I had to stop my anti-depressant a week ago. It was making me sick. Really sick. Stomach pains, nausea, the works. I saw my psych this week yet again, and we took another ride on the medicinal merry go round to see where it would take us next.

We landed on what she's calling a "mild mood stabilizer." Mild in terms of the severity of it's side effects. She's been trying to keep me off of Lithium, Depakote, Lamictal, and the other "big guns," as she calls them because she knows that severe side effects can render me incapable of taking care of the boys....but she's working overtime to get me on something that works and helps me maintain a healthy fluctuation of moods because anything too high or too low also renders me incapable of taking care of myself and the boys...and school...and life. Problem is, I haven't gotten this new med yet. It's in the mail. On it's way.

I apologize if my sentences are running on...or not making sense at the moment. I'm trying to be coherent, but that's a hard task when it feels like the world is spinning at 500mph-in your mind. My mind has been exploding with ideas and energy all day, scattering my attention into a thousand little pieces...

I stopped my anti a week ago, and by Monday when I went to fill out my mood chart, I noticed I was giddy. Too giddy. Laughing incessantly. Silly. Goofy. Fun. Overjoyed. Elated. Euphoric. Happy. Smiling. Busy. Productive. Feeling creative & optimistic. I was all the best parts of me multiplied by at least a thousand.

I had started my ascent into a manic episode.

Whether or not it's hypo, hyper, or full blown mania doesn't really seem to matter...what does matter is that for the first time I've learned enough about BP and myself the months following my diagnosis that I can recognize the signs & symptoms and understand the state that I'm in... which means I can take the necessary steps to take proper care of myself while I'm in it and run preventative maintenance before the inevitable low comes....

Because the low? It's going to come. But what I'm learning is that its severity depends on how well I take care of myself before it hits.

I'm at a stage with my BP that I'm coming to terms with it and understanding how it works; I've spent the past 6 months  identifying my triggers and paying attention to how I respond to what's going on in and around me. Mood charting has helped me start to see the pattern and frequency of my cycles. Learning to be "in the moment" has afforded me the ability to take a moment while my thoughts are racing to assess how I'm feeling-even if it's only for a split second. That split second? Makes all the difference.

When I first started reading about BP, I came across some statements from people who said they live for the highs. Living through this current episode, I can finally understand why, and I agree. Sure I can see how dangerous they can be, I'm not denying that. But I can honestly say that when placed in the confines of proper self-care, the highs are manageable. Livable. Like I said, I'm me, but I'm the best parts of me more of the time. I can take care of my boys, play with them, nurture them, read to them...My house is cleaner, my meals taste better, I have the energy to exercise, read, and interact with people....I can take better care of myself when I'm feeling manic...

But I can also understand when it's entering the not so safe zone...

Talking too much too fast...

Feeling "scattered" mentally...

On Energizer Bunny mode one minute...

Unmotivated the next....

Lack of concentration...

A little snappier than normal...

Indecisive....

Impulse control starts to diminish....

Feeling like I'm going 500mph...

Driving and just getting out the door to run an errand takes me 3 hours....

Yea...when I start to feel like that, I know I'm in trouble. So I have to find ways to make my world slow down, spin slower...allow the manic feelings to run their course, just in constructive ways.

Like getting fresh air...

Baking....lots of baking.

Dancing...

Sitting on the floor with the boys and watching them play...

Yoga....

I would say prayer, but I pray on the go these days or as I'm writing a letter to God in my journal. It's the only way I can focus my thoughts in these states. I think He's okay with that...

and writing. lots of writing.

That's why I wrote this today instead of what I planned on discussing.

And you know what? I'm feeling way more peaceful than I did before I forced myself to sit here and talk to you.

Now I feel like I can go bake 5 loaves of delish bread instead of 15. I don't have 15 neighbors so making that much would just be a waste. And we can't be wasteful, now can we?