(This post first appeared on my blog, PS I’m Bipolar)
My fiance, for all his sweet qualities, is not very good at taking hints. I am one of those people that “doesn’t like to burden others” with my “issues”. When I feel down, or frustrated or a certain way, I am not the type to whine and complain about it – until it gets really bad. I know I should have an outlet- i.e. gym, walking, something to get the bad energy out, but when I am in a rut, I am really in a rut. This rut has been going on for 2 years (the cause will be explained in a later post).
There is this annoying lack of motivation that prevents me from doing the smallest tasks, exercising, cooking, even writing- hence the long gap between this post and the previous post….and the fact that I am having serious brain fog!! What is it??? Is it me, is it the bipolar, is it the medication?
This cocktail of medication, sometimes looking at all my pills, as I sort them into my bi-weekly pill sorter (so that I know I take them), I wonder what all of them do to me- but I know that in the end, they must be stabilizing me, because despite being in a rut and despite the ridiculous situations and downs I have been through, I am extremely high functioning and if you didn’t know me, you would never know I suffer from bipolar II, probably OCD and various forms of anxiety. And germaphobia and other phobias. But the medication story will be another post too. Along with the brain fog ….If I can remember to post about them!
Okay, now that I have digressed to 3 other topics…I find it really hard to express myself when I am in my “states”, or maybe in general, expressing feelings is hard, because what you think in your head, and what you put into sentences to say to someone, doesn’t always mesh. Or make sense. Unless the person is psychic or actually KNOWS WHAT YOU MEAN (and isn’t just saying it, or thinks they know because they read some articles on bipolar or looked up the definition of it). I bought this book, Loving Someone with Bipolar or something to that extent, in the hopes that my fiance would read it….or maybe it would be something we could read together. Never happened. I read more of it than he did. He also reads 6-7 books at once (by reads I mean “reads” ….20 pages of this one and that one…).
So when it comes to my feelings, it’s hard for him to recognize what is going on, even though come January 1, 2015 we will have been together for 8 years. He understands me for the most part, and that there are moods and that I am irritable, high, sad, etc. He has stood by me since my diagnosis 4 years ago. But he still has difficulties noticing the subtleties, noticing when the moods are changing. when the states are changing, and how easily I slide from one state to another.
Maybe it’s because I am a really good actress. I work full time at a law firm, as a law clerk, in a role essentially created for me by the kindest boss, who is aware that I am bipolar because I told him this when we discussed me joining his firm. I also have a part time blogging business, and he was my first client, so he knew me beforehand, and that I am reliable, and do quality work.
Because I work full time and interact with various people, I have learned strategies to keep my emotions in check. I attend conferences, I recently spoke at a large conference to a large group of law clerks, and I was 100% okay! I have learned to stay “even”, well, appear even throughout the work day and I try really hard to do the same in social situations and not blow up, get high or cry.
When I know I am extremely sad and can’t face people, because if someone asks me “How are you?”, I will break down and cry, I know I have to stay home, or lay low. Unfortunately, not everyone understands that…(certain family members to be) and on this past New Year’s Eve, I was so low, that I had to miss a wedding that I had RSVP’d yes to, and my fiance went without me, not realizing how dangerously low I was. I managed to have dinner with a close friend and we took her young son to see Frozen (and how appropriate is that I heard the song Let It Go?), and then I went home, alone, and just bawled my eyes out for close to 2 hours. I actually managed not to binge it. Then I googled suicide hotlines and crisis lines and pondered calling one, but I didn’t know if I could, because I was crying so hard, I couldn’t speak. No one could have known how awful I was feeling (in my circle of friends etc.) – no one realized it until I literally said, I was so depressed, I wanted to call a suicide hotline because I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to go into the kitchen because of the knives. I don’t think I would have done anything, but I had to stay away and quarantined myself to the bedroom. I also pretended to be sleeping when my fiance came home because I was so angry with him. Despite my tearful state for 3 days prior, he did not understand my state of mind, how I was a wreck and how badly I needed him to be with me. I told him, you can tell your relatives I am sick, because it’s the truth. I later learned that one of his aunts told him that she hopes he can be happy with “someone like me”. And at our engagement party recently, she asked me, “how are you doing, are you okay”…Right… because you know so much about my state of mind?
I told my fiance, a mental illness is no different than a physical illness and you need to see it that way, and explain that to your family. If I am not well, you can explain it the same way as if it were a physical illness. You wouldn’t question someone staying home with a migraine, or low blood sugar, or high blood pressure or fainting spells, right?
So, he can’t read me properly…but I forget to mention that I am a rapid cycle-r…as in… I go through more than 10 cycles in a month… I can go through daily cycles, and it can switch throughout the week and every day is a different mood. And, because I have to suppress things as I work with so many other people (who would not understand bipolar), I am exhausted at the end of the week. So excuse me for not being the life of the party on the weekend. Excuse me for finding a way to cope and exist.
Back to the lack of motivation comment – it took me more than 3 months to unpack the books in my home office…Because I couldn’t bring myself to do it, and because I have to have them organized by category (fiction, biography, history, psychology, self-help and the fiction is organized by geographical region), because that’s what makes the OCD happy. I now have piles on my office floor because other boxes were emptied out and those items were taking up shelf space until I decided the books should be unpacked. I find decision making so difficult- I had to decide how to configure the shelves etc.
Even deciding what to eat, where to eat is a battle because I have to weigh the pros and cons of this place or that or eating this or that….
I keep digressing, but that’s how it is, I think we all understand it…my mind is flitting around.
I barely managed to enjoy the engagement party because of all the people talking to me and not letting me sit down and relax. I didn’t get to talk much with my friends, or enjoy the food as much as I wanted to, and it was at my favourite restaurant. I wonder how I will be able to manage talking to all these people at the wedding! It could be 250+ people! But there are other reasons (reasons for the rut and my sadness that lead to me being upset that day- it wasn’t the bipolar acting up).
I actually had a relative to be comment, that if I can’t handle social situations, why am I bothering to have an engagement party or a wedding… The nerve some people have.
My family notices when the states are different, and when it’s quiet to hyper. But not the subtleties that precede the changes. That’s what I want them to see, but maybe only an expert can see it. I would hope by now that someone will notice when I am about to go up, or go down and try to help me balance.
I realized when I was driving home from work the other day, that when I am sad, or panicked, I really don’t know who to call that would best understand me (friends-wise). I used to have someone that was great when I had very bad anxiety 11 years ago. Somehow, since my diagnosis our friendship changed and he’s been out of my life for the past year. He wasn’t there when I needed him last fall during a family crisis. That hurt.
And there have been friends that have missed out on cues that I needed help, or something was wrong, friends who know my behaviour patterns (he was one of them), and that if there is radio silence, something is wrong, and they should reach out. These people know about my diagnosis.
There are some friends who don’t know about the diagnosis and I don’t expect them to be there in the same way. There isn’t the same level of comfort- so I can’t be too disappointed.
I guess what I am trying to express, is that I am in a rut, it’s been a long time, I am frustrated with my lack of motivation (because it affects my ability to do work and focus), I hate brain fog, I am frustrated with people missing cues and I am tired of people not understanding the effects of mental illness. Oh, and I don’t take well to disappointment.
I really try not to get excited over events, or things, or anything, because then I can’t get disappointed. Doesn’t always work when I am on a high, because everything is awesome at that point. Works better when you are mad at the world, or sad and couldn’t care less.
On that note…my brain hurts from all this thinking!