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Monday, August 22, 2011

Confessions from Inside a Bipolar Mania

I just got home from seeing my psychiatrist. I knew that would get your attention! My doctor is amazing. He sees things that others don’t. Where others see a happy-go-lucky girl who’s bouncing off the walls with excitement and grinning from ear to ear, he sees a woman who is at the high point of a mania episode. He has also seen me at my worst, on the other end of the spectrum.

I have the opportunity to see him every three months whether I need to or not just to get a refill on my prescription, which I would not live without if you forced me to! I always get a kick out of the way no one in the reception room is willing to look one another in they eye. It’s as if they are morbidly embarrassed to be seen in a counseling office. Having a mental illness is nothing to feel embarrassed of; it’s something to get treatment for. You wouldn’t hesitate to sit in your physician’s office for an annual check-up, or to treat a really bad sinus infection. Why not go to your psychiatrist or therapist to help get through an equally, if not more so, debilitating condition?

I have Bipolar Disorder. There, now you know. Many of my friends and family already know that about me and just brush off my occasional irrational behavior. Most people see me in my ‘up’ stages, and only my family ever sees me in my ‘down’ cycles. Part of that is due to the fact that my depressive cycles tend to primarily happen late at night, but the main reason is that I'm now so well controlled by medication that most people probably don't even realize that I have issues. I have been known to have moderate anxiety attacks (which are different physiologically from panic attacks by the way, but that’s a completely different topic of conversation), and have also been found curled in a ball in the corner of the bathroom crying uncontrollably. Thankfully, you (as the reader of this article) will probably never see me in that state. What you will probably see is someone who can’t sit still if I try, rarely sleeps enough hours, and is always having grandiose ideas that rarely come to fruition.

Today, I was excited to tell my doctor all about the novel that I just wrote. He politely asked me all the right questions about the plot and characters, and what my plans were for the book’s future. I made sure to reassure him that I recognize that it is most likely to be rejected by the publishing companies, and that I have mentally prepared for that. No one wants me to crash into depression because I expect the book to be published with no road blocks. Statistically, it is highly unlikely to ever get published, and I’m aware of that. That doesn’t mean I can’t hope.

You know what he was most concerned with? That I wasn’t getting enough sleep! He’s right, of course; I’m not getting enough sleep. I write in my sleep. I wake up half way through the night sometimes and go downstairs to turn the computer back on so that I can get my thoughts ‘on paper’ so to speak. He explained to me that not sleeping will negatively affect my ability to control the mania (which he clearly recognized) and make it that much more difficult to handle the inevitable crash. So, once again, he is an invaluable addition to my life. If you suspect that you have any type of mental illness, please, take my advice and see a psychiatrist or therapist. Trust me on this one. And I will make this promise to you: I will try to sleep…as soon as I’m done writing this next novel.

Need advice on Bipolar Disorder or Mental Illnesses? Check out these books:

The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide, Second Edition: What You and Your Family Need to Know
Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder
Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder: A 4-Step Plan for You and Your Loved Ones to Manage the Illness and Create Lasting Stability