Hello, Bipolar Disorder

It sucks to have a reaction to a medication, whether it be for a medical or psychiatric issue. It also sucks when that reaction leads to a new psychiatric diagnosis. I now carry the diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder. These are some of the symptoms I have experienced since December 2019: insomnia, extremely restless, euphoric, agitated, unusually talkative, racing thoughts, low appetite, hopeless, helpless, sad, empty. Those are not all of the feelings and experiences I have had over the past months but are the majority.

I’ve always been the “depressed” one, the one who can be sensitive but smart. The one who became severely depressed in 2013 and had to have many invasive treatments including hospitalizations. I’ve always been that person, yet now, I am not. I have been hovering between two worlds: that of being depressed and that of being hypomanic. It is possible to feel sad and laugh at the same time. It is possible to feel very happy but cry at the same time. I have experienced this and I will tell you, it feels strange when I am aware of it. This is called a mixed episode where I feel hyped up and an hour later I am despairing on my couch. It can be within minutes. It can be taking a walk on a sunny 60-degree day and feeling powerful and euphoric to then feeling like I can’t believe what a failure I am.

It is utterly exhausting and I continue to contend with it while my psychiatrist keeps prescribing medication to alleviate these symptoms. It’s as if he is running a non-stop chemistry experiment with me and I am grateful to him and his experience. I ended up not doing well with the most well- known mood stabilizer, due to many negative side effects. I am now in an “in-between” phase where we will introduce a new mood stabilizer in a few days. I try not to think of the medication difficulties but I have endured them for years. My body is very selective in terms of what medications it will accept.

Honestly, it was important to be given the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. As a clinical social worker, I know the focus should always be on the symptoms and that diagnoses are for insurance companies, but I needed it. I needed it as validation of years of wondering, of being given so many other diagnoses that basically equal Bipolar Disorder. Even though the illness lives at a higher pitch than what I experienced before, I had to hear it and see it. I need to own my reality, as my blog states. While I wish the past months were different, in terms of my mental health, I can only move on from here, meet it head-on and do my best work with my treatment team (including my husband, family and friends) and move forward. This is not easy but it is the only choice I have and want. So…

Hello, Bipolar Disorder