I have bipolar disorder. This can mean the difference between wanting to die and staying up all night to solve the world’s problems, depending on whether I’m depressed or manic. I do not wish to wither or blossom. I wish to simply remain alive with green leaves, to have neither too little nor too much enthusiasm for life.
I did not appreciate the diagnosis at first. It has taken me quite some time to accept that taking medicine every day is necessary for my brain to work in a way that will allow me to be the best version of me, that the medicine won’t change who I am.
For a while, I would take the medicine only when I felt severe symptoms, then stop because I thought I was better, just to have the swings happen all over again. It is a brutal cycle. The highs are bright, full of energy and wonderfully exciting. Then comes the crash. The lows are dark, surrounded by thoughts of death, a feeling that everyone I love would be better off without having to deal with my problems.
At times, I knew that a major shift was taking place, and still would not take the medicine, as I was either too depressed to care or too manic to want to come down. It was important for me to feel as if I could refuse the medicine, not be told by someone else that I had to take it. Only when I was in between the highs and lows was I in a state where I could decide the medicine would help and choose to take it.
I now faithfully take my medicine every day (for over a year now). It doesn’t mean I’m never high or low. It just means that when my mood starts to head one direction or the other, I can be aware of it and make decisions calmly based on that awareness. I tell my husband when I can feel it happening (he usually already knows). I call my psychiatrist, not because I want to change meds, but just to let him know that it is happening, so that we can track the pattern of shifts together. Only a pattern will tell him what he needs to know about any necessary adjustments in my medication.
I look forward to what is discovered through further research on bipolar disorder in the decades to come, as the science of the brain fascinates me.
Despite being a reader, I have not read as many books about bipolar disorder as I probably should; however, I have seen the movie (based on the book) called “Touched with Fire”. I recommend this movie, whether you are bipolar and need to feel like someone understands you or you know/care for someone with bipolar and want to get a glimpse of what bipolar disorder feels like.