So here it is Mental Health Awareness month and I didn’t even know. Huh.
I’m not a big fan of it being mental health as I don’t have mental health ergo, mental health month seems not applicable. Mental illness month is my month.
Except it only gets a measly week in October, lost amongst the other awareness campaigns of the month, like breast cancer and stuff.
I get it’s really about semantics though. Just words. So I’m stepping up for mental health awareness
Welcome to another installment of the wildly popular series, Bipolar Bytes, wherein I try to explain this fun illness in relatable terms and small chunks of information. Anyways, this is a play on words – bytes are little bits of information and it sounds like bites, like sucks – see what I did there? For more information, you could try here <—-for some of the older bits and bytes and pieces.
Today we are going to talk about stability, that oh so fleeting and even more odd feeling that comes when we are managing our illness instead of fighting it.
First tho – a little CMA disclaimer:
The information below or after, herein, forthwith or wherever it is in relation to this paragraph, is my understanding, and my best effort to provide simpler explanations of a complex disorder. There is a lot of information out there and some of it contradicts itself – how ironic, but typically you get the same basis of fact as to what this disorder is and how it affects people who have it. I have struggled with the best way to share with you as one, I am not one to do research, I will if I have to, but its tedious and too constricting, something that takes the enjoyment out of writing for me and gives me a headache. Two, being a serious procrastinator, if I waited until all the research was solid, well we wouldn’t be here. I am not a professional, not even an expert bipolar patient, more of a rebellious one I think. I won’t put anything out to you that isn’t verifiable and while I am trying to educate, please seek the help of a professional if you are ill, or someone you love is or you suspect they are. Hereafter the statement of covering my ass shall be simply referred to as te CYA / CMA and referred back to this nonsense that covers my ass. I think I will have to check with the legal department but I think saying – get a second opinion if you want to act on any information contained herein should do it right? I suck at this kind of thing.
Life with bipolar disorder can be chaos. To us, our family, friends, partners, etc and so on.
If you have bipolar disorder, you know that of which I speak. If you love someone with bipolar disorder, same.
The goal for every bipolar patient is stability through proper management of an illness which is always changing and hard as heck to deal with.
There is no cure so stability is all we can hope for and some people can experience years of stability while some, even when managing and taking meds cannot seem to hang on to it for long.
I was one of the latter. I didn’t like the meds, or they just didn’t work because they were the wrong dose, I’d miss being manic so I’d quit the meds and stop going to talk therapy. I was a rebellious bipolar patient.
Sound familiar to anyone?
I lived a good portion of my life not properly medicated and that was my stable. I really had no clue how off the chain I was. How all over the place I was most of the time.
Until the beginning of this year.
Last year I was in the hospital 5 times. When your illness becomes so unmanageable you self medicate to feel better, and you end up hospitalized almost half the year, it’s time to get serious about managing.
It’s time to get serious about finding a different stable – to see what all the fuss of this elusive state is about.
And so I did. I’ve buckled down. I go to my therapy and group therapy appointments and this is the real deal – I’ve been taking my meds as prescribed for longer than I have ever before. As much as I wanted to quit I refused to because maybe the brass ring of stability is what I really need.
One day, my brain felt empty and slow. I felt like I was thinking through molasses, one thought a time rather than the gazillion things pinging my brain constantly, of which I had to catch a bit here and there and try to make something happen with it before the next thought intruded.
It scared the living crap out of me.
I told my therapist and she said basically it was scary because I never experienced it and was not my typical self and the meds were working and wow, what an odd feeling.
I didn’t like it at all but I still persevere.
If I am going through this slightly uncomfortable and confusing feeling of stability, then someone else is too and AHA why not write about it.
If you aren’t used to feeling what stability feels like, I would like to share some of the changes you might experience;
- Slowed down thoughts – as I mentioned above my thoughts zoom through my head typically and I have probably forgotten more than I know about anything right now.
- Better ability to focus on and complete tasks one at a time instead of a little of this and a little of that here and there and sometimes never finished.
- Less need to talk a lot.
- Slowed speech and sometimes the inability to think of a thing to say and also not bothered too much by the fact after you get used to it – I always had so much going on in my head it was like talking, and fast, was the only way to relieve the building pressure.
- Sleep – real sleep. hours of sleep.
- Less feeling of and acting on emotions
- Less anxiety – it’s amazing not having a tummy ache every day.
- Less anger, hardly irritable
- A feeling of doom at first that you have lost yourself. This is more likely if you have never really been stable or compliant in managing your illness
- A small sense of discomfort.
These are just a few that have a huge impact on me.
It’s hard to feel this way and then be told this is what you have been trying to achieve all along.
It’s not bad it is just different and if you can stick to it, you will come to enjoy it.
I had a small relapse in the form of irritability and anxiety to the point where I felt like my regular (unstable, bipolar) self. It was almost comforting to be back to my nutty all over the place me.
I got some help and got my meds tweaked, and my feeling of calm returned. This time it was welcome even though I still am getting used to it.
Sometimes too, the idea of stability may feel ridiculous because there is no cure for bipolar and even managing, there will be an episode at some point. It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Just enjoy stability, get to know that you too. The more you manage the longer that you may be around and after getting used to a few very different things, you will realize its a relief for a time. You can breathe, restore yourself from the exhausting effects of bipolar disorder.
You aren’t a different person, you didn’t lose yourself.
You just have a different state of mind. Go with it. Stick with it as long as you can.
It’s worth it.