Two weeks ago I wrote about my annoying search for a psychiatrist to help me maintain my mental stability and, lordy be, I found one. Hopefully they won’t be an indifferent schmuck (I’ve had a lot of experience with those), but at this point I don’t care.
Finding someone to help you with your medication is crucial, especially if you’re living with Bipolar Disorder like I am. While my version of the disorder is defined more by depression, on medication, I will have moments of elevated mood (which I kind of like) and extreme irritation (which sucks). This means I need a lot less sleep and I have enough energy every morning to make breakfast, jog/walk 1.6 miles four days a week, lift weights, eat less and more healthily than I used to. I also feel so much better at work, have better productivity and even got back to updating my blog again (finally).
The bad side is the “much less sleep” which only means at some point I’m going to crash and I’m going to crash hard from exhaustion. I’ve already had moments where I’ve struggled to stay awake during work meeting that take place late in the afternoon. Also, the irritation is no joke. When I’m too amped up I’m quicker to lose patience, inattentive to detail and get burnt out a lot faster. Plus, when too stressed from being too “up” I develop an eye twitch, among other annoying ticks. And that’s where having a doctor to monitor things like dosage and side effects comes in handy.
Fortunately for those around me, I’m pretty good at “maintaining.” I really hate inconveniencing people with my internal drama. Other than I seem slightly less engaged than usual or too engaged (depending on which way the wind is blowing at the moment), I’m still pretty much “just Danielle.” Caring almost too much about inconveniencing other people and being self-aware is probably what’s helped me the most in this journey, where having friends and family support is crucial to good health. I couldn’t afford to run anyone off in a fit of rage. This is something not all Bipolar sufferers can do. Mental illness can make those you love very difficult to live with and the mood swings can potentially become alienating.
I’ve lost a few friends due to their inability to seek (and commit to) adequate treatment or learn coping skills to curb inappropriate behavior. Then there were those completely in denial about how serious their situation was, and I couldn’t do anything about that. When people you love force you out of their life because they don’t want to deal (and I am someone who encourages other Bipolar suffers to confront their disease and deal), there’s not a lot you can do. Especially when you’re overly empathetic like me, an emotional sponge, who when my friends feel awful will start to feel awful myself. In the end I have to decide is trying to help this person worth risking my own relapse into instability. For some who learn to take their disease seriously, we weather that storm. For others who don’t, the relationships crumble away, often in hurtful and destructive ways. One of my friends even went so far as to spam me with inflammatory, abusive emails and I had to block them in order to move on with my life.
I’m still hurting over a few close friends I simply could not help in the end. Bipolar can become a life threatening disease due to how when untreated, sufferers can become suicidal and I’ve lost few coworkers and peers to this disease. Each time it was hard to hear about because just six years ago, that could have been me.
Hence why I was so dogged about finding a doctor. I’ve been pretty stable (with some depressive hiccups) since 2009, and I have no desire to go back. So forward I push. Focusing on getting better. Focusing on not just maintaining my mood, but improving my life.