Monday, April 15, 2013
The More Things Change
"Am I really bipolar? Couldn't this just be a time of crisis? Some sort of fleeting thing?"
Her answer surprised me. I expected her to agree with me and say that I was right - this was just a temporary thing and everything would be fine. However she said no such thing. She chuckled and said,
"You have a biochemical disorder - bipolar disorder. YOU are not bipolar. You are you. You just happen to have a challenge not unlike a diabetic; you manage the condition but it is not who you are."
That wasn't what I was asking. I truly wanted to know if this shit was for real because every now and then I felt normal. Calm. The voices in my head were relaxed and the screaming silenced. I did not believe my diagnosis during those neutral times.
It has been several months since my last post and a lot has happened during my absence. I got a job - a very good job. I stopped seeing my therapist soon after due to issues of scheduling. I settled in at work and spent my days navigating a steep learning curve.
I stopped seeing my psych doctor right after the new year - January 2nd, to be exact. I forgot about an appointment. I was so busy at my new job, so worried that someone would find out about my illness, that I was jumping through hoops to impress right out of the gate. I figured out that I missed the appointment when I received a bill in the mail for $200 for the missed appointment, and a note that this amount was my responsibility and not covered by my insurance. No reminder call prior to the appointment, no inquiry regarding my health with the invoice - just an impersonal, face-slapping bill. I cut all ties on the spot.
That put me in a difficult situation. I never cared for my psych doctor, but I needed him for ongoing prescriptions. Our appointments were ten minutes at most and it was clear that he had to relearn who I was with each visit. He often confused me with other people which left it up to me to explain what medications I was taking, at what dosages, etc. I found that dangerous given the types and amounts of medications we were dealing with at that time.
So I was without a psych doc for meds, which meant that refills were impossible. The only reason why I was even able to see this doctor was because my therapist pulled a favor to get me in faster than the usual 3-4 month wait. With the realization that I would be without medication in less than a month, I made the decision to titrate down and off of my medications.
Dangerous? Yes. Stupid? Yes. Unfortunately I felt completely alone and vulnerable so it was the only choice.
I brought my levels of Depakote and all other medications down very slowly. I experienced no side effects whatsoever. Everything seemed fine, only I wasn't really fine. I'm not really fine.
Depakote was a fucking bitch of a medication. It was better than Lithium and Risperidone, but not by much. It did nothing to help me lose the monumental weight gain from Lithium and Risperidone. It was not without side effects, but it DID level out my moods. I was never super happy or sad - just living in the middle.
I have been without any sort of mood stabilizer for a couple of months now and things are starting to get scary. The intrusive thoughts are back. The deep sadness, self-harm, explosive anger, mania, screaming inner voices - all are back.
I am doing my best to manage this on my own (regular sleep schedule, proper nutrition, supplements, etc.), but I know that I will need help. Soon.
So that conversation with my therapist regarding my disbelief that I am, in fact, bipolar, runs through my mind. I no longer doubt my diagnosis. It's a shame that I had to fall through the cracks to finally accept it as fact.