Monday, September 24, 2007
Got them old Biplar Blues
There is something that a lot of you probably don't know and it's not something that I tell just anyone and that is that I have Bipolar Disorder. I'm always afraid that it will lower peoples opinions of me, which I'm sure is true in many cases but I will tell all of you because of my sense that you are all kind and won't judge me.
I was only diagnosed about a year ago. Sadly, I've been having symptoms since I was young and no doctor or counsellor ever caught it. So, I started taking medicine last year and there has been dramatic and amazing changes in me. The changes were so dramatic that I suppose they lulled me into a false sense of security. I thought that my problems were over.
It's very hard to be bipolar and not know that you are. Because you blame yourself for things that are not actually in your control. You know that you are different than other people but you don't know why. Many people are angry when they find out. I was relieved because I finally understood what had been wrong all these years and I was given hope that things could improve. The only thing that I was angry about was that no-one helped me a long time ago because I certainly did seek help....many times.
I cannot stress how much this disease has reached it's tentacles into my life in every possible way for over twenty years. Therefore, to try and completely separate it from who I am is difficult and would end up being not telling the truth and causes other, more practical challenges.
Bipolar Disorder involves a lot of self-monitoring. The doctor often has no way of knowing what is going on inside of you but what you tell them, unless you get so bad that it is completely obvious. There are no laboratory tests for this, no x-rays, just you and your family or friends to recognize that an attack is coming so that you can head it off before it gets too bad. Before you develop the full blown symptoms there is still time for you to recognize that they are coming and do something about them. Therefore it is important for you to know what your symptoms are leading up to the attack.
I have difficulty knowing when something that I am experiencing is something that I should tell the Dr. and when it is something insignificant because I still don't know too much about myself apart from the symptoms.... it's hard to explain. I'm afraid that I'm not quite sure what normal is.
I have recently come to realize that I am not nearly as stable as I thought that I was. I am not feeling well now and I think that maybe this has been coming for awhile and that I just didn't recognize it...or maybe I did recognize it but I just didn't think it would be this bad.
There is something called hypo mania, this is what I get. The person never goes into full blown mania. They get high energy and creative and its fun. You feel like you can finally keep up with everyone else as opposed to when on the downswing when you feel like you can't keep up with anything. A person constantly feels guilty about being depressed, you feel like you are letting everyone down. So when you are up, it makes you feel like you are the same as everyone else and you don't live with that feeling of self-blame and weariness. And it is because of exactly this that people tend to not address the early symptoms which are called pro-dromal symptoms, it is a perpetual trap that people with Bipolar Disorder fall into. And I knew this and did it anyway.
I knew that I was getting a little 'wild' but frankly, I liked the way that I felt so much that I suppose that I felt like the risk was worth it. But believe me, its not. Well....live and learn.
*************************************************************************************I assume that everyone has heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is a mood disorder like Bipolar Disorder. People have lights prescribed to them by the Doctor. Bipolar people are not supposed to use those lights without talking to a Dr. It can make them manic. When Spring came and the days started getting longer, I started having symptoms, I almost went to the Doctor, but they lessened.
Then I almost went in June when I found I couldn't stop crying about the Madeleine McCann case that I posted about in June, about the little girl who was abducted in Portugual. Then I started not being able to eat and this made me foggy. And etc..etc...and now look at me.
I hate being fragile, and I am fragile. Any little thing can throw me off. Not getting enough to eat, not getting enough to sleep, stress, hormones.....nearly anything! It really sucks!
I have been having a difficult time at my job and the stress of this has caused me to have a relapse. Plainly, the job is just wrong for someone with my condition. I am much more suited for a job where my rapid thoughts will be a merit rather than a handicap. I have a job where you have to concentrate, but on meaningless details. And when things get too fast, I get confused and can't keep up. I keep getting in trouble and it's getting to be too much for me, the job itself but also knowing that for me, it is a dead-end.
I went out on FMLA for 2 weeks, and have gone back to work on a reduced schedule. I talked to them about the Bipolar Disorder and they told me that when I don't feel like I can work, I need to take FMLA, not to come in. And if I do come in, I will be held responsible for whatever happens. If I had to work tonight, I don't know if I would be able to. My FMLA protects me from being fired for calling in, but it doesn't feel very good to take off work and leave the place short-staffed, it puts a lot of pressure on me.
I know that ultimately, I will not be working there forever, it is just a matter of when the job ends, not if. People tell me I should quit but this is where I have my health insurance and frankly, I don't know if I am up to starting a new job right now.
Since I am bipolar, I am probably eligible for some type of assistance. But the thing is, I have a job and they are going to look at that as...I am working so it can't be as bad as I say. I have an appointment to talk to someone on October 1st and I am going to tell them this, since it is the truth. I still have my job because I was cagey, and that is probably the main reason. And sometimes I wonder if it is ethical to keep doing what I am doing when I am not well.
Once I got really excited about Courtroom Reporting but I don't think that I could probably do that either. I probably couldn't handle the pressure and I would probably have days when I couldn't focus. I have always thought that I would like to be a paralegal too but the truth is that that is probably too stressful for me too. I would be working in an office with people and people really stress me out sometimes. There are times that I would probably be less effective and this would surely cause problems.
I have tentatively decided what I want to do, though I still have some people to talk to. I would like a vocational evaluation which could help me decide what I could expect to be able to handle and what I probably couldn't. What I am considering now is Web Design. I think that I would really like it.
It isn't that I can't concentrate at all, but there are only certain things that I can consistently concentrate on. One of my defining qualities is that I am full of crazy mad ideas which would be quite a plus. I think that I could be good at it. I think that I would like it and I believe that I could handle the stress of doing this better than other types of stress.
And I seem to do so much better when I have some way of channeling some of my creativity, which I experience almost like a physical urge. Which is why I took so well to blogging. When I blog, my head stops whirling around and I can actually concentrate.
Well anyway, lately I can write and watch TV, but am having trouble reading. I just can't concentrate. So sorry I haven't been around too much. Hope you understand.