I’m not sure what to write about. Often I have this dilemma when I try to write. Depression can block me. Sometimes being normal can block me. Often there are no real reasons for writer’s block. It just happens. It happens to the best of people. Working on a great many projects and using a great many mediums is a symptom of bipolar. My place is filled with unfinished projects. During the sparkling phase of inspiration, many ideas flow, often all at once, and doggedly I try to do them all at once.
Bipolar 2 often hides itself from the public. It is hard to diagnose because it can be confused with other conditions such as unipolar depression, ADHD and borderline personality disorder. For years I have been treated for unipolar depression. I was also misdiagnosed with ADHD many years ago, but I don’t relate to all of its symptoms.
It has taken many years to get diagnosed with bipolar 2 because bipolar 2 was not known when I first presented to a psychiatrist two decades ago. I didn’t relate to the manic highs of bipolar 1. I didn’t know that bipolar disorder exists on a spectrum, with depression on one end and mania on the other. I have always been able to identify the symptoms of depression a lot easier than the symptoms of mania or hypomania, simply because depression is so bloody awful to live with. On this basis, and desperate for help, I talked only of these symptoms and got treated only for these. Many people are in the same position as me. They get misdiagnosed because they only present for depression. Mania and hypomania can feel great, so hey, something must be going right! Why seek help when you’re happy?
Last year my chronic pain flared up badly and I was physically incapacitated. Nonetheless, I did make sure I got out and about where I could. The really strange thing was, I was not going through any depression whatsoever. I had just changed my antidepressant medication from Endep, which was putting on weight, to Cymbalta. I went off the Endep for a few weeks and the pain hit me like a sledgehammer. If it were not for the pain, I would have attempted to come off the Endep altogether because I thought I was so well, and had left mental illness behind me for good.
Where I should have been depressed because I was in so much pain, I wasn’t. Quite the opposite.
I felt a strange, enlivened shroud of peace all around and within me. This peace seemed to emanate from my head and I felt like I was the sanest and most enlightened human being on the planet, all because I was dealing with my pain so well. It wasn’t like I shouted from the rooftops ‘Hey everybody, I’m SANE!’ I just had this silent feeling of ‘isn’t it great to be sane’ I had a glittering, effervescent feeling inside my head like champagne bubbles.
I took on many creative projects and committed myself to saving the world. I thought I could do my part, and I took on more projects than I had time for. I felt in touch with nature. I said yes to everything. There were times when my thoughts raced and times when I would do my projects at one o’clock in the morning. I would go and do my dog walking work the next day having had only five or six hours sleep. I did not get good sleep. I still don’t get good sleep but it’s improving since I’ve been taking Lamictal.
I often felt high, elated, my best ever. This was in spite of feeling chronic physical pain. I felt that I was being presided over and looked after by a kind and loving universe. I was carefree in myself.
I was impatient, easily irritated and I raged at the motorist who dared to honk me in traffic or cut in front of me without warning. I had urges to smash their windows with the steering wheel lock and run coins down the side of their vehicle, particularly if it was a four-wheel-drive. I held back on these angry outbursts, but only because I am in therapy and on antidepressants.
I had no idea this was not what normal people get (whatever normal is)
Whatever I experience seems to be the same as the average person, only it’s either ramped up or down a few notches. In other words, I am either functioning a few notches above or below the normal mood.
And my moods drive me crazy, rule my life and make my life unmanageable in so many ways. Where would I begin to describe these ways?
Insomnia drives me crazy. My racing thoughts feel like they are going around and around like clothes in a spin dryer. I have images flash in and out of my mind so quickly I can’t recognize them. My thoughts come with a running commentary that goes on and on inside my head, the voices sounding loudly in my ear. Sometimes I get my voice on its own telling me ‘you can do this’ and ‘oh, there’s this’ and ‘what about this?’ I get its comments on all kinds of memories, dreams and reflections, concepts and philosophies. Sometimes I get what sounds like a whole room full of people talking. I don’t hear voices in the same way a delusional person would. I just hear my own racing thoughts. I often feel elated at night and I talk in an animated way when everybody else is ready for bed.
All this would be okay if I were a robot and I didn’t require sleep to function, or if I knew I would not crash into depression afterwards.
I have read that bipolar 2 sufferers often experience more depression than mania. Our mania might not hospitalize us, but our depression sure can.
This year, unlike last, has been a year of mental illness for me. This has caused me to seek help and get properly diagnosed with bipolar 2. I now do not belive mental illness is behind me, but is something I will always have to manage.
I am impatient for the Lamictal to start working on me instantly, lifting out my horrible moods for good. This is probably not realistic, as meds take time to work and I am not yet on the full-strength dose.
At least I don’t abuse drugs and alcahol like I did many years ago.
Since taking the new meds, things have improved for me and I have gained a lot of insight.