A new diagnosis, a new life

Welcome to my blog. I have only recently come out from under a very long, very difficult depression. My story is sadly not that unique, as it is standard to take several years for a patient to be correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The reason this is so unfortunate is because antidepressants and mood stabilizers are very different medications. Because bipolar disorder is biological and not something one “catches,” I was exhibiting symptoms before I was even a teenager. However, with the trauma of my parents’ divorce and my inability to get along with my mother, it was very hard to distinguish what was a normal reaction and what was illness.

Because memory is selective, especially when trauma is involved, I completely forgot I was ever prescribed mood stabilizers. Had I remembered, the trajectory of the last four years back in the psychiatric office might have been different. I had already spent so many years with a particular type of personality, despite all of the adversity and interpersonal conflict. Deep inside, though, I was very confused and frustrated. By the time I was out of high school, I began to drink on a regular basis and by the first dysfunctional relationship, I was abusing it.

I spent the next handful of years getting deeper into my alcoholism until I realized it was not going to end well for me like this. I was a very lonely alcoholic because the underlying bipolar pushed everyone away, even in my darkest hour. Because the hypomanic symptoms of bipolar type 2 are not as “dramatic,” let’s say, as type 1, they went unnoticed by my psychiatrist. However, it is somewhat bothersome that the deep consumer debt and substance abuse did not suggest a bipolar diagnosis, at the very least.

I was very forthright with all of the therapists I tried throughout the past four years, including the foray into sex addiction and other illicit drugs. This behavior is not typical for unipolar depression. I was so “treatment resistant,” obviously, because I stayed so sad for so long, yet so agitated and so reckless at the same time. I cannot even imagine how much sleep my dad has lost throughout the years because of this disorder not being properly treated. When I reflect, I still hold that certain people treated me so poorly that had I been healthy or not, I do not miss them in my life.

That is the silver lining of having bipolar disorder; you feel more intensely than others, and at the same time see right through them, like heightened intuition. Bipolar has been a blessing and a curse, and for that reason I do not regret the difficult road I had to trudge. I am lucky to not have been in a mixed manic/depressive state last summer or something very bad may have happened to me. I did end up in a very dangerous situation, but having still been living with my dad all this time, he intuitively knew I was not okay, and he removed me from that situation.

Did I take all of this loving care well at the time? Absolutely not. But somewhere inside I knew that I had lost control, and the only scapegoat was the erroneous diagnosis of major depression. By August of 2017, I was in an absolute vegetative state and had resolved to rot in my bed, no matter how long that took. I had slid so far down I had lost all hope. Although this was my reality, this is very hard to type right now. I am scared shitless of ever sliding that far down the hole again. But I had thrown out every ounce of care for myself.

It felt like purgatory because I didn’t want to be dead but I didn’t want to be here, either. I don’t think anyone, no matter how depressed, wants to be dead. It is just that painful. And to think that could have been avoided? That’s pretty tragic. I fought my ass off to crack the code on my depression. I read and read, attended therapy, and forced myself out of the house whenever I could, despite being on the wrong medications. I suffered a few breakdowns earlier in the year when it came to unrequited feelings from some guys, but I sat there in my car in the parking lot of the psych ward because I knew this would pass.

Zoloft was introduced a few months ago, along with my Cymbalta, and I suddenly saw the light of day again. I didn’t want to jinx it, but all I could assume was that the major depression had lifted to mild. Then at the beginning of the month of April, my back became inflamed and little did I know I was going hypomanic. The behavior I finally exhibited, along with the back pain that would not subside, almost forced me to question what the hell was going on.

The last night I spoke so fast and so pressured to my dad I knew there was something missing here. I could have screwed my brain off and thrown it away, it was so agonizingly overwhelming. All I wanted all this time was my dad to understand how much my brain was torturing me. Little did I know, bipolar disorder manifests throughout the entire body and I am confident that since the inflammation has gone away, it was responsible for my back pain.

Untreated bipolar wreaks havoc on a person’s body, too. You are constantly stressed out and in fight-or-flight mode. Since I have now been on mood stabilizers for the past few days, I am starting to be more regular and things that used to bother me do not affect me anymore. It is honestly bittersweet. I am still the same deep-thinker I always was, but at least I no longer have to suffer in the dark anymore.

6 thoughts on “A new diagnosis, a new life

  1. You’re such a brave person for hanging in there with all you’ve had to deal with. I honor you for your struggle. I know from my own experience that a diagnosis – a proper one that is correct! – can make a huge difference in both how you are treated and the outcome of that, but also in how you look at yourself and understand how so much of your reality has been shaped by this awful illness. Like so many of us it took me decades for them to get it right for me too. I’m hoping things are better for you now with your new mood stabilizer and other meds. It’s such a tricky balance to achieve, and it may take you awhile to get into a stable place. It takes time to adjust to the drugs and also to your new reality. I’ve been thru the backlash of anti-depressant hypo/mania myself. It just makes you feel crazier! I’m glad they got your diagnosis figured out right – finally! It makes a huge difference to get it right. I wish you all the best as you continue to discover how to live with your Bipolar Illness. Good luck! Steve

    Liked by 1 person

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