mental illness issues
Myths about bipolar disorder abound and, honestly, most people don’t know anything about bipolar except the myths, or common misconceptions. On World Bipolar Day, it makes sense to me to spend a little time pointing out bipolar myths and addressing them.
I have a fear of bipolar medication treatment changes. I do. You’d think after 100 changes to my bipolar medication treatment plan I would be used to it, and while I supposed I’m used to it, it doesn’t destroy the fear. I’m so scared that a bipolar medication treatment change will make me worse. I also fear the hope that a bipolar medication treatment change offers.
When you think about your history, what do you wish your (or other) parents knew about bipolar disorder or mental illness? My parents, like many people, knew nothing about bipolar disorder and this, undoubtedly, harmed me. Their lack of knowledge and lack of openness about their own mental health/illness history made my life and my bipolar journey much harder than it had to be. Here’s what I wish my parents, and other parents, knew about bipolar disorder and mental illness.
Last time I talked about why we find it so hard to finish tasks with bipolar but this time I want to focus how we can successfully finish tasks with bipolar disorder, even if it is difficult.
I’ve written about suicide a lot and on those threads I hear it all the time: “I’m too much of a coward to kill myself,” or, “I wish I were braver so I could commit suicide.”
I understand these thoughts and I think they’re very common and normal. When you’re in unbearable pain, it feels like suicide is necessary. And if you’re not achieving a necessary thing, you feel like a failure. And because of the nature of suicide – because it is scary – people feel like the reason they are “failing” is because they are a coward.
This is not true, however. Cowardice has nothing to do with killing yourself or living. You are not a coward for not killing yourself.
Every day I fight bipolar disorder. I have to because every day my bipolar disorder requires fighting. Every day, bipolar disorder is at the forefront of my mind. Every day, I have to do all the things that are required to improve (or at least maintain) my mental health. Every day, I have to fight the bipolar depression that makes me exhausted and upset. Every day, I have to focus on medication and schedules and sleep. Every day, every day, every day.
And my reward for all of these fighting and fighting and fighting of the bipolar disorder? If I’m lucky, it’s the reward of not being sick. If I’m lucky, my reward is feeling like one of the normals for one day – a way that other people feel without putting any work into it at all.
And if I’m not lucky? My reward is just another day with illness, with me expending hopeless amounts of energy in a seemingly-impossible fight to stay alive.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about a life with bipolar it’s this: it’s never going to be what you expect it should be.
I was watching a television show about gluten-free baked goods and on it, a gluten-free chef said of gluten-free bread, [when compared to bread with gluten,] “it’s never going to be what you think it’s going to be, so one of the things you should do is to try to adjust your expectations.”
Now, I don’t know anything about gluten-free bread, but I do know about a life with bipolar and I have to say, in my experience, it’s never going to be what you expect it should be and you should probably learn to adjust your expectations so it doesn’t taste quite so bad when you bite into it.
My bipolar is making me feel like hell. But then, there are so few days that I don’t. And now it’s particularly bad because my body won’t seem to regulate its sleep properly. I’m having trouble getting to sleep and then I’m waking up too late. (Yes, an alarm would fix the too late part but then I’d be even more tired than I already am.)
Did I ever mention that I hate bipolar disorder?
I hate you.
Or, perhaps, it might be more accurate to say my bipolar hates you. Or my bipolar makes me hate you. Or something.
I feel this pervasive negative, black, dark, inky hatred spread atop my “Natashaness” that seems to affect how I feel about everything. Theoretically, philosophically, intellectually, I know that I don’t hate everything. In fact, I know that I don’t really hate anything. But I sure feel as if I hate everything.
Someone recently reached out to me for some recommendations of mental illness resources as she was concerned for her sister. Unfortunately, the feedback I received from her afterwards was that her sister felt, she was “beyond help” for bipolar disorder.
I understand the feeling of being beyond help. I have felt that way so many times. I had so many goes at medication roulette and I had two doctors give up on me completely so I absolutely felt (and was pretty much told) that I, and my bipolar disorder, was beyond help.
Here’s the thing – those doctors were wrong and so was I.
So many people come onto this blog and say, “the answer to curing bipolar disorder is . . ..” Their answers range from magnesium to religion to talk therapy.
And all of them tick me off (as I ranted in Stop Telling Me How to Cure my Bipolar Disorder).
Because your answer to curing bipolar disorder is nonsense.
Yesterday I got the news that I’m losing one of my best friends of 16 years. He’s someone I’ve known pretty much since birth. He’s giving and loving and very furry. He’s my cat.
And while I can understand that not everyone will fully comprehend the bond between a human and animal, you will just have to take my word for it that the news put me into shock and I am now grieving what will very soon become a physical loss.
And, of course, a trauma like this (yes, it is a trauma) will make my bipolar disorder blow up. Bipolar makes grief worse and grief makes bipolar disorder worse.