grieving bipolar

I have been thinking about grieving lately. It need not be death. With a serious mental illness, we grieve the loss of wellness, I know I am grieving the loss of my job identity and I lately I am in a phase of grieving a life/body wholeness I sacrificed for a life/spirit wholeness. It is odd, but one can grieve the loss of one’s self as much as one grieves the loss of another. roughghosts

He’s right, of course; all endings merit some form of grief, no matter how unobtrusive. And grief comes with varying levels of heartbreak.

Bipolar smacked me with a nasty case of grief 24hrs after diagnosis; the first 24hrs were spent sitting numb and dumb with a thousand yard stare. I think that had my mother been around, she would have understood – and probably grieved too. As it was, comfort arrived via instant messaging. Not ideal, but at least it was there.

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Fortunately, after reading a few blogs about it, I clicked a link to the Crazyboards (not to be confused with Crazymeds) forum. Their sticky post bipolar info said you will experience grief. I was glad to find it, because I’d begun to wonder if I was just a whiny asshole. People kept telling me it was great that I finally had a diagnosis and great that it wasn’t a manageable illness, and there I was, sobbing my socks off and wanting my mum – at age 44.

It was and is very good to have been diagnosed bipolar at last, as opposed to all the depression and PTSD and C-PTSD diagnoses beforehand. I mean, I still have the C-PTSD one, but it didn’t make sense purely alongside depression. Obviously the stigma matters far less than the ability to find focused and accurate treatment. It is very good to know that bipolar is potentially manageable. Actually I wish they’d qualify the whole bipolar is manageable thing in official info; it’s a bit misleading. If potentially manageable sounds too gloomy, they could just add the caveat that it can take time to find the right combination of meds. Otherwise the grief comes with too many aftershocks – my diagnosis got more complex and my prognosis worse and I wasn’t coping well.

Grief arrives, unannounced as usual, with its baggage full of emotional trauma. Consider adding that sort of weight to a disorder that is already far too heavy on emotion, then add the fact that most of the world will roll its eyes and fail to take any part of it seriously. Grief takes over your house, steals your food and then sits around, burping. That’s the initial stage.

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I grieved harder when I started to become better informed. Shitty meds and their shitty side effects, an extra financial burden, fear and loneliness, all sorts of physical side effects … and so on und so weiter ad nauseam ad fucking infinitum. And still far too many people react with something along the lines of, mhm, always knew you were crazy/weird. And before, I was quite proud of being perceived as eccentric. Afterwards it just hurt like gaping, bleeding fuckery. I grieved for months, six or so of them. Depression stalked me like a rabid and ravenous wolf. Medication started kicking my ass in a bewildering variety of ways. I read prolifically, ferociously, soaking up info and regurgitated it on to this blog. I had to; it’s the way I learn and process. Website info wasn’t enough, I had to read research papers. My knowledge and attitudes took shape out of the whirling chaos of grief.

I’m well informed now. I know about the history, treatment, neuroscience etc of bipolar. That makes me feel (I hate this feckin’ word) empowered; demons are way less scary once you know exactly what they look like. So that’s me and grief, when it has to do with intangible things. Education and virtual support is how I get help. More experienced people like you and you and yes, even you hiding there in the corner; you’re the ones who soothe and advise me, and bitch with me and laugh with me.

Thank you.

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