Once upon a time in May of 2013 I decided that I was tired of being mildly to moderately Depressed most of the time (whether taking anti-depressants or not) and decided that I would keep a public blog of my efforts.
The goal of the blog was twofold:
Then something happened.
In the course of receiving greater oversight of my medications and attempting to get my Depression under control, we discovered that I DID NOT, in fact, have Major Depressive Disorder.
I had Bipolar Disorder instead.
This is not the kind of thing where you can just trade in one Disorder for another. If you could I would have picked a much nicer one. Scratch that. I just looked up a list of Disorders and I really don't want any of them.
Right. So this NOT having Major Depressive Disorder messed things up in several ways.
First off, I had something of an identity crisis. For twenty years I had been open and honest with people about living with Depression. All of a sudden I was a liar.
Also, I realized that I had done a great job of destigmatizing Depression, but that I had HUGE stigma surrounding the condition of Bipolar Disorder. Great, I thought. Before I was just Depressed. Now I'm bona fide crazy! Which was not a helpful way to feel.
Finally, I had the problem of the blog. I no longer wished to be open and honest and fighting stigma. I didn't want people to know that I had Bipolar Disorder. It sounds much scarier than "unipolar" Depression.
I decided that if I were going to be open and honest with myself and the world, I had no choice but to continue the blog with a change in focus from "How I Finally Kicked Depression in the Ass" to "How I Manage My Fricken' Fracken' Bipolar Symtpoms."
There are several things that kind of suck about getting a bipolar diagnosis.
1. Nobody ever says, "I totally get that. I was really bipolar after my grandma died. I know how you feel."
2. Nobody ever says, "Don't worry. It's temporary. It can be treated. You'll pull through this and get over it.
Because it's not curable.
I don't wear a giant flashing sign on my chest that says, "Hi I'm Bipolar How Are You!" But sometimes I do run around spouting this information at everyone I see. I don't want to feel like I have to stay hidden, and so if I am blunt and open and honest it removes my ability to hide.
And I shouldn't have to hide. But I have an invisible disability (That's another difference I had to come to terms with: Bipolar Disorder is continued a disability protected by the ADA.) and I can pass... not really pass for normal because people who have known me for any length of time have never described me as particularly normal...
But strangers on the street cannot tell just by looking at me that I have a disability. Which sometimes seems not fair. Not fair that I can hide and many people cannot. I made myself a T-shirt that says, "I hate being bipolar it's awesome go away!" with lovely little spectrum of sad/smiley/angry faces. I wear it in public sometimes.
I publish this blog publicly, and I am perfectly willing to talk to you about anything that you read here. And you are certainly under no obligation to read anything I write.
I make every effort NOT to use this blog as a way to communicate in some backhanded way. My goals still remain what they have been: track things for myself (how am I doing, what meds am I taking) and to fight stigma in the wider world.
I typically include at the end of each post a section on "Grateful Crap" which is my nod toward the whole gratitude journal thing, which I think is a good idea, but which seems very unlike me. I also have a section called "Equatorial Actions" in which I try to think of all the things (beyond just medication) that I am doing to stay balanced.
So, here goes...
Grateful Crap: finding a violin teacher for elder boy
slept okay (but starting to push the envelope on how late I am actually getting to sleep)
eating well (still doing "whole 30" through the end of October- which is not much of a change from the new normal for me except that I am not having added sugar and I am not having grains)
self-advocated. And when that didn't work, contacted a F/friend to advocate for me.
married well. Okay, so I did that more than 21 years ago. But I stand by my choice of Spouse as a key component in achieving balance. (hello, sweetie!)
meds: 200mg lamotrigine
Quaker, teacher, parent,