Daily Archives: November 26, 2017

I was misdiagnosed as bipolar for 6 years. I’m only now getting my life back.

Some people have the impression that once a mentally ill person seeks out help, it's only a matter of time before things get better. But that's not always true.

The Other Holiday

I’m not going to write the standard “Surviving the Holidays” post this year. You all probably know what that one says: Self-care, self-care, self-care. Avoid toxic people, and if you can’t, get away from them as soon as possible. Don’t drink. Take your meds. Make sure you’re not alone unless that is what you truly want. And if you don’t know these things, you can read them in dozens, if not hundreds, of places. There’s not a lot I can add to that.

No, I’m going to write about the other holiday – the one we all have. The one that happens to fall – for me – right during the other holidays. The birthday. I wrote earlier this year about birthdays, and parties, and surprise parties in particular (https://wp.me/s4e9Hv-surprise), and I also wrote about the low-grade depression that dogs me this year (https://wp.me/p4e9Hv-AC). The two, I suppose you’ve guessed, are not unrelated.

After I experienced a severe trigger at a birthday party while in my teens, I tried to disown my birthday. In my dysfunctional way, I told people that it was on March 1, rather than in December. This was a stupid coping mechanism, not unlike the time prescription Ibuprofen caused me stomach trouble in college and I sat by the door in my classes, hoping that the burping would be less noticeable there. Don’t ask me why. Irrational thinking, I guess. My birthday didn’t go away (the burping didn’t either), my family still baked me cakes, and I still got presents or cards.

Eventually, I reclaimed my actual birthday. As the years went by and my friends scattered and my general holiday depression got more debilitating, I barely celebrated at all. Now it’s pretty minimalist – a meal out with my husband, a non-wrapped present or two, and on with the regular day. Dan tries to make it special, God love him, but my definition of “special” is telling the wait staff not to gather around me and sing. Then Facebook came along and now I have the opportunity to count the number of people who wish me happy birthday. As excitement goes, it’s not much.

I can’t say my lack of enthusiasm for birthdays is limited to myself, either. On Dan’s birthday, we have the same sort of celebration, except with fewer presents. (Dan stashes away little gifts for me all year long and often gives me things he’s bought back in July. I lack the wherewithal, in terms of energy, to do likewise.) Online shopping has made things easier, but Dan brings in the mail, so he usually has an idea what he’s getting, based on the size and return address of the package.

In a way, I suppose it’s more efficient to have my birthday tucked in among the other holidays so that one gray fog can cover them all. I could also be experiencing a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I’ve never been diagnosed with that, so let’s stick with what I know I’ve got. (I’ve tried using natural sunlight bulbs, but I really couldn’t notice any difference.)

Do I ever get hypomania at the holidays? Rarely. Although there was that one Christmas when I got Dan socks and underwear and wrapped each sock and t-shirt in a separate, different-sized package.

But we were talking about birthdays (or at least I was). Maybe it’s aging, and maybe it’s my bipolar disorder, but I’m content these days just to let birthdays slide by with an emotion that ranges from meh to Bah, Humbug, depending on the year.

I know, I know: self-care, self-care, self-care. It’s not just for Christmas anymore.

 

 


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: birthday, depression, emotions, holidays, husband, mental health, mental illness, my experiences

Trust

Trust is completely paradoxical:

The thing with which to begin when

you have nothing.

The end point, which

somehow you must find first.

The smallest of present moments,

measured haltingly into a past.

Both question and answer, when every

word of your acquaintance has fled.

♦

You think the arc of the horizon

should split, one side jaggedly askew,

one forever gone.

The horizon doesn’t split.

Its edges remain.

You think the ocean should dry to sand because

all the tears it held, you have used up.

You have stolen water even from the clouds.

But the ocean is not dried, nor the clouds

gone, though you have cried them both,

multiplied, and more.

You rub your eyes that grains still ripen,

plums turn blue, still the moon increases.

You thought all of this was gone.

Such is the unimaginable you have lived.

You thought everything was gone.

♦

But,

without your doing, the world is fashioned

in this way: moments

become other moments; steps

lead somewhere; all things breathe,

even without remembering.

One day, after a very long time,

without rubbing your eyes you see

the arc of the horizon still

an arc; the ocean, full.

And you are not betrayed, but glad.

Nancy Shaffer ~ Instructions in Joy

♦


Bipolar Disorder,ADD, and Racing Thoughts

Earlier was a long venting, renty post to purge the week’s demons.

This evening I find myself less overwhelmed with emotions and more frustrated with the curse of bipolar, its subsidiaries (my shrink says often ADD and ADHD come hand in hand with bipolar disorder and goes undiagnosed far too often), and of course, the prescription insurance plans who refuse to cover necessary medications people like me truly do need to benefit to functionality and quality of life.

I do not have the hyperactivity form of attention deficit. I do, however, have rabid racing thoughts and it’s quite maddening. What is more maddening is that a simple low dose of Focalin helps 75% toward this particulaly brutal aspect of my bipolar disorder and yet, insurance refuses to pay for it no matter what the doctor says is best and necessary. Even generic Focalin and similar meds are so pricey, I can’t pay out of pocket. So where does that leave me (and many others, I am sure)?

It leaves us being held hostage by our spiraling thoughts that stampede and race day in and day out, hindering ability to focus and finish basic tasks, read a book, write coherent posts (read my blog lately?). It’s not bad enough to constantly be at war with the immediate symptoms of bipolar, which, too, includes racing thoughts. Having a secondary diagnosis of attention deficit with racing thoughts yet not being able to get the relief you need due to financial restraints is insult to injury.

I find it so reprehensible to have a diagnosis for this particular hindering disorder yet even with the doctor signing off on it, I can’t afford the meds and insurance won’t cover it. As if we simply make up stuff so we can take even more pills.

While it is very true that a plethora of people use ADD/ADHD stimulant meds, and abuse them, for no reason other than all night cram sessions or keeping up with their kids’ extracurricular activities…For those of us who have legit disorders, their irresponsibility and utter selfishness rob of us what could greatly improve our quality of life NOT TO MENTION, ability to gain employment. No employer wants someone so scatterbrained they can’t complete small tasks, let alone major ones, and more often than not, that small dose of Focalin helps put me on track. I won’t say it’s 100% long term effective, but some of it is the ebb and flow of the bipolar ups, downs, and crippling depressions. No drug is a true miracle worker.

I am truly frustrated that my writing-which is all I have ever been good at, and the one thing I absolutely love doing-suffers because my brain moves so fast and has so many topics at once it’s like being in a money booth with a wind machine trying to grab at currency but being unable to grab more than two singles. Too much blowing around in my brain like juggling a dozen ping pong balls and I drop them constantly thus my intelligence comes into question. People think I am so lazy flake or dingbat and that is infuriating.

Unfortunately, with ACA on the chopping block, which likely means us disabled will be turned out into the cold as well, I see no solution in sight. It just seems to me that with the attention deficit and churning thoughts being such a hindrance, properly diagnosed over multiple years by multiple doctors, yet I am still not worthy of the expense when it could so improve my life, my child’s life, our entire situation…Big pharma, insurance companies, and the system as a whole are unintereted in helping anyone who isn’t crapping hundred dollar bills to afford the costlier drugs.

As a post note…To all those who pop Adderall, etc, to get high, gain energy, cram tests…Your selfishness means people who need-and deserve-that help- are often unable to get it even when we are legally entitled to it. So thanks for that, assholes. You rank right up there with big pharma and prescription insurance plans.

I matter, and I should be able to get the medication I need, even if I could only cover a fraction of it. Instead of hurling judgments at those with mental disorders, how about the powers that be come up with a plan to help us help ourselves by making these needed meds affordable?

I’m already in my pajamas, I know I am dreaming. Big pharma will do the right thing about the same time as politicians gain a soul.