A New Bipolar Diagnosis – My First Eight Bipolar Months
Today Bipolar Burble welcomes Adele, a 36-year-old newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Read her story of a new bipolar diagnosis and how she’s handling her first few bipolar months.
When I was diagnosed as bipolar this past November, it was both the best and the worst news I have ever received. I knew that my life was probably going to get better, but that it would definitely never be the same.
How I Got My New Bipolar Diagnosis
The diagnosis happened by fluke, and sort of backwards. I was put on a mood stabilizer generally prescribed to help with migraines, and within days the chaos I had in my head stopped and my behavior and my life settled way, way down. It was like I had been living for 36 years in an incredibly loud rock concert and then stepped out of it into the deafening quiet of a deserted street, my ears and body and being still vibrating from the noise. I stopped being bored, started sitting still, and felt something close to settled. I had never felt this way, not ever, and instinct told me I needed to bring these changes, and the questions they raised, to my doctor.
My Mental Illness History of Bipolar Disorder
Mental health issues were not new for me. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder at 20 and had already been on selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) three times, which did little but make me feel like a head case and cause me to gain weight. At 29, after the birth of my daughter, my doctor decided she’d had enough of my smoke and mirrors and basically demanded that I get help. I went onto a brand new medication which I thought was wonderful and seemed to do magical things. In retrospect, I think those magical things were sending me nicely into hypomanic territory, for up I went into elation, flaming optimism, euphoria and shitty sleep, sort-of-working sleeping pills notwithstanding.
Just as mental health issues were not new, neither were mood swings. Throughout my teenage years, my medicated 20s, and the six years on the medication that seemed to be sometimes, and was supposed to be, the final answer, my moods swung violently.
Naturally prone to a anger, having come from generations of short tempers and quick tongues, I would flash into seething anger in an instant. I would go down, inexplicably and without reason, into a lethargic, gloomy darkness, a world of shadows and pain, remaining there until the gods saw fit to the shine the sun again. Then shine it would, and I would be on fire with the wondrous blessings of my life, motivated, productive, restless, social and brimming with ideas. It only occasionally occurred to me, until this mood stabilizer, well, stabilized me, that such highs were not absence of a flare of major depressive symptoms, but rather the symptoms of another, more complex and very real, illness.
When I Received My New Bipolar Diagnosis
The night we received the bipolar diagnosis, we bought champagne, ordered a pizza and called everyone we knew. The atmosphere in our house was like a party. This, we thought, was all the answers we had been searching for. But our celebration was short lived. Medication adjustment proved treacherous at best, and I went down lower in the winter that followed than I have ever been. I lay on the couch, doing nothing and going nowhere, thinking nothing would ever change and I would never feel any better. Finally, in March, another change to my medication was made, and this seems to be the right combination.
Living with My New Bipolar Diagnosis
Honestly, I struggle a bit with the new bipolar diagnosis. I have always been bipolar, and I will always be. I will never be off my medication, and there is no such thing as “situational bipolar disorder,” which is what my depression was first diagnosed as. I am tired, a lot, more tired than is convenient. I keep telling my husband I feel like a noodle, bland and without the charisma and spice that hypomania gave me, or so I believed.
But there is a sense of peace, too. Reading books about bipolar disorder, I can finally see myself, totally and completely. Everything that I thought was ridiculous, weak, difficult or immature was simply just the brain I was born with. I am learning to forgive myself and to accept myself. And I’m becoming acquainted with this calm, centered stranger, one levelled out one moment at a time.
Adele is a stay-at-home mom who can be found at her blog where she hopes others can find the relief of knowing they’re not alone.
Banner image © Adele.