Bipolar 1.5

I saw my psychiatrist yesterday.  It was my 3 week checkup on the new Geodon dose.  She asked how the Celexa was doing, but I said I didn’t think I could adequately answer that question since it’s only been a week since I titrated off the Paxil and onto it.  So another followup in 2 weeks to check on the Celexa.  I think this “medication soup”, as I called it, is bringing my moods into line.  But I wonder… how much control do I really want?  Will I never get excited about things?  Will I never experience sadness again?  Yes, I want to feel better but I don’t want to lose myself in the process.

So we talked about a lot of things, and my time even went over by 10 minutes.  I love talking to her.  I feel completely respected, almost as if we are equals, but at the same time master and student.  We talked about panic disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  She read snippets from the DSMV-IV.  We agreed that since my anxiety problems are not something that happens more often than half a week, and usually stem from specific events or situations, I do not suffer from GAD.  (I do have OCD.) We talked about medications and we talked about bipolar.

Then I asked her the question: do you think I am bipolar type I or type II or NOS? I was originally diagnosed NOS, but I’m not sure that has much meaning to it. She took a moment to collect her thoughts and then she said, I think your symptoms resemble bipolar type I more so than type II… but it’s really a spectrum… She pulled out a copy of Stahl’s Essential Psychopharmacology where he describes the bipolar spectrum and read some of the classifications to me.  But at that point, my brain had stopped listening.  I had the answer to a question that’s plagued me for a long time, but I’m not sure I really wanted it answered.

My first reaction to the call was to make light of it and say, “Well, if you’re going to do it, you may as well go all the way!” This is not meant as a slight to any BP IIs out there, it’s more of a statement as to my coping mechanisms.  I affectionately refer to my time in outpatient therapy as Daycare for Psychos.  I have my chill pill (Klonopin), my crazy pill (Lamictal), and now I need good names for Geodon and my antidepressant.  I once introduced myself to a pair of interns at the neurologist’s office with, “Hi! I’m crazy.”  (The neurologist politely corrected me saying that I wasn’t crazy but rather bipolar.)  Labeling myself, my medications, my experiences with these terms somehow lessens the emotional blow.

Yes, this is the same woman who won’t tell her best friends that she is bipolar.

Because I don’t trust them or because I don’t trust myself?  I don’t know.  Silence is a burden, but it is better than ridicule or pity.  I don’t want to be known as the bipolar friend.  One of my friends already has a bipolar friend and I hear about her every so often.  All the crazy things this woman thinks and does.  When we bought our house, our realator wouldn’t shut up about her crazy ex-daughter-in-law who was bipolar.  I think I wrap myself with twisted humor as a shield against the true face of stigma.

While my brain and my soul are still wrapping themselves around the idea of being bipolar I or perhaps bipolar 1.5 might be a better description, I still have to contend with my impending surgery.  I will try to post a little something tomorrow as it is my last day of two-handedness for a while, but if I can’t eek out the time, I guess I’ll report in when I can get the iPad to cooperate with WordPress.  (It ate half of my original post.)  Good thoughts requested for Thursday AM! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Bipolar 1.5

  1. I refer to my medications as a “cocktail.” Individual choice, really, I’ve always preferred a Cosmopolitan or a good Bloody Mary to vegetable soup, lol! Although since I do refer to myself as “Alphabet Soup,” I suppose that has a place for me as well.

    I worried a lot too about not being able to feel, almost numbing myself out with medication. I even worried (as most manic depressives do) about simply losing the highs and lows, and how that absence would feel. I think the trick is to be very attuned to your moods and emotions, at least that’s what did it for me. I can feel accurately the difference between happy and a little too happy. Likewise I know when I am just suffering a bit from the blues, or even a major sadness, versus actually hitting a depressive episode. As for the highs and lows, I would point them out to my doctor before he could point them out to me, because I know I don’t want to go to those extremes. They aren’t the fun, nor are they the states of artistic suffering that I had them romanticized as in my mind.

    You now have a diagnosis. Let out your breath. 🙂 Although I was looking through some paperwork and found yet a different diagnosis written down by my long-time former psychiatrist, so try to take it with a grain of salt. It really doesn’t change anything. It won’t make your manias any more severe than they have been, right? It isn’t as though the doctor just gave your mind carte blanche to go off the rails. It will take time, but it will be okay. *Hug*

    I love the vernacular you use – just as long as you never use it in a self-deprecating or disparaging manner (and I don’t suspect that you do). Words are my medium, and I ceased letting them have any power over me, in and of themselves, a long, long time ago. If we can’t refer to ourselves and our lives with the particular terms we choose, then pardon me, but what the f***? I’m the one who’s got to live with the finer points of this, if I want to call myself crazy, you best believe I will. I actually have a page on my blog dealing with, as I call them, my mental differences, and guess what it’s called? My Brand Of Crazy. Yet I struggle with, and am even now redefining my perspective on the more socially acceptable term, “mental illness.”

    Long comment. Good, thought-provoking post seasoned with a dash of hypomania on my part (sorry).

    Good luck in your surgery. I know you’re going to do well, and my thoughts will definitely be with you. Please update us as soon as you are able.

  2. I could not have ever phrased it better. I will quote you on this: “Silence is a burden, but it is better than ridicule or pity.” it’s true. I don’t tell people for that exact reason. I don’t want friends to use me as a comedic story for their other friends. My suffering is mine, and it is only used for entertainment when I deem it appropriate!

    I don’t tell people at work because I don’t want anyone to start questioning my character. Should I even be allowed to work with small children? I could hear it now. They’d whisper to each other about how they couldn’t leave the children alone with me for a moment because they’re scared I’ll snap out. This is despite evidence quite to the contrary. I’ve never given anyone license to think anything like that.

    I do tell some people. But I make a big joke of it because they’ve never seen the real scene. And unless I can really trust the person who knows, I keep them at an arm’s length. I’d rather have people question my diagnosis than my sanity.

    And no offense taken by a BP II Dx. I know BP I is not the same, although they are similar. No matter if it’s BP I, II, NOS or any other diagnostic name they have for it now, each person’s experience with their own BP is as unique as they are. There is no “better” or “worse”. There just is.

  3. Pingback: Blog Honors | Manic Monday

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