My Other Chronic Illness: Bipolar Disorder

0e50cdee-121c-4d48-a7c4-44e2a957fb0fUsually I limit my topics on this blog to those that are related to my autoimmune life.  Well… today the things that are bothering me aren’t necessarily medical but rather mental.  I’ve really been struggling with my Bipolar Disorder lately and I’m going to take the chance here and open up about some things that I don’t usually share with anyone, let alone the whole world.  Y’all don’t know how hard it is to actually write this particular blog post.  I don’t share my mental health diagnoses as easily as I do my medical ones, so it’s kind of hard to step out of my comfort zone and tell the world all of my deep, dark secrets.

e40c2777-2166-4ae9-8095-d939e5c29f0fI was diagnosed with rapid-cycling, hypomanic bipolar disorder when I was 17 years old.  I was a bipolar child but nobody bothered to get me the help that I so desperately needed, so I struggled with literally EVERYTHING in my life.  I always had a bad attitude, voices in my head, behavior issues, appetite problems, impulsive by nature, OCD to the hilt, the list could go on and on.  I have almost all of the typical Bipolar symptoms and I learned at a very young age to deal with it on my own.  As a teenager I started self-medicating with marijuana just to be able to cope with all of the symptoms of being bipolar as a child.  It was not an easy life and there was so much more going on behind the scenes that I’m not ready to talk about yet.

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As an adult, I have continued to struggle with various symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, but I’m almost always medicated for the condition and that truly makes the difference in my life.  If I’m not on my medications, I spiral out of control very fast.  I will sabotage everything good in my life with impulsivity and not even care what I ruin in so doing.  It’s very scary and I have put myself in a lot of dangerous situations by not taking care of my mental health properly.

03500455-5a59-4d32-b207-ede6a9ea16dcJust this last week, my psychiatrist changed my Bipolar medications that I have been on for four or five years now.  She switched me from Geodon to Latuda and let me tell y’all:  I flipped my freaking lid!  I couldn’t sleep and when I did sleep I was having flashbacks and nightmares all night long.  I was waking up in a cold sweat with no idea as to where I was at when I woke up.  My thoughts were cycling quite rapidly and getting me nowhere… Just the same anxiety-ridden thought over and over again.  I literally felt like I was going nuts.  There were other symptoms that Michael had noticed but didn’t necessarily want to bring up to me as I was pretty over-sensitive for the entire week that I was on Latuda.  He noticed that I was more agitated and irritable.  I had noticed that too but just thought that it was the stress in my life.  It got super scary when I started dealing with suicidal thoughts and ideation.  That is not like me at all!  I don’t want to die!  I very much want to live a very long life and watch my children grow (and hopefully one day) grandchildren.  So, when I started feeling suicidal I knew it was time to switch back to my old medicine which is exactly what I did.

19f772b0-03ad-454a-acfa-095c8c9cb1c8Now I’m dealing with the ping pong ball effect that switching back and forth on these types of medication tends to cause.  I personally hate this feeling and I really wish that doctors would stop trying to change my medications that have worked for several years now.  It frustrates me that they always want me to try one of the newer medications, but in my opinion, the former medication is working just damn fine!  Ugh!

Through all of the chaos that I have endured this past week, my loving husband has remained at my side.  I have been less than pleasant, to put it mildly, and he has still never wavered from his self-imposed responsibility of taking care of me.  Even though it frustrates me that I need so much care, I find myself ever grateful that he has chosen to love me and to take care of me through it all.  I don’t know how he does it, because I tend to get very emotional and occasionally mean to him.  I never mean to do or say anything hurtful, but sometimes it happens anyways.  Luckily, he’s a very forgiving (and understanding) man.  Most men would not stand by their wife’s side like Michael has for me.  Through it all I remain blessed.

6b649aaf-548c-4395-a10d-ac1b497361adA supportive friend or family member can be the difference between life and death when you suffer and struggle with mental health issues or mental illness at all.  It’s a lonely disease, similar to many other medical conditions, it leaves you feeling a bit alone in the battle.  It feels like nobody really understands you.  How do you explain to someone that your brain is broken?  There is a stigma with mental illness that leads us to hide our diagnoses from the judgmental world.  Sometimes, all you can find is one single person to be there for you so you tend to latch on to them like a lifeline of sorts.  This can become toxic behavior if you’re not careful, though.  If you know someone who suffers with mental illness, take a moment out of your day and check on them.  Ask them how they really are and really listen to them when they tell you.  It could make or break their day.  You never know what kind of an impact you can have on somebody so always be kind.

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