I’m going to be honest here – this isn’t the first draft. I still have that post saved but what I was trying to say wasn’t making sense. It was a convoluted mess of words which I guess is telling of my current mental state but we’ll get there in a minute.
I absolutely adore my psychiatrist. I was so shocked at my last appointment that he said to me, “You seem to really understand and know when things affect you enough to change your overall state. What do you think happened?” My psychiatrist, instead of coming up with his own conclusion and just spitting it at me, asked me to look into myself and think. The problem is, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what triggered it and I was a little agitated that he said something to me that he had never said before. “Well this makes sense as you do have rapid-cycling Bipolar Disorder.”
Hold up – I have what now? I have seen this man for seven years and not once has he ever told me I was a rapid-cycler….is that a thing? We’re going to make it a thing. However, once he said it, it all made sense. It’s like my wasband used to say, I was a light switch. I honestly woke up one morning and wasn’t happy anymore. Like something came to me in my sleep and said, nope, you’ve been stable too long, let’s shake things up. What bothers me the most is, now I’m in this funk and my OCD and my anxiety are out the wazoo. People make me nervous, I can’t remember if I rolled my window up before walking away in the parking garage so I’ll walk back to my car several times to make sure….I mean, it’s absolutely horrendous! But let’s pause for a medical minute.
What is rapid cycling bipolar disorder?
It’s when someone experiences four or more episodes of hypomania, mania, or depression within a year. It can occur at any point and come and go depending on treatment. 2.5% of the U.S. population suffers from some type of bipolar disorder with rapid cycling occurring in 10% to 20% of people with the disorder (WebMD, 2018). Rapid cycling is not in itself a diagnosis but an identifier or descriptor in the course of illness (WebMD, 2018). Mood stabilizing drugs are the core treatment of rapid cycling with antidepressant assisting with depression (WebMD, 2018). You can read more about rapid cycling bipolar disorder here.
But holy shirtballs, guys! This is all making sense!! But here’s the tea – it’s great that I’m understanding my illness more but I don’t want to be on any more medication. I don’t want to be a guinea pig anymore and it means a lot to me that my psychiatrist is trusting my judgment and respecting that I want to wait to see if I come out of this without making any changes. Now, with all of that being said, I’ve been seeing my psychiatrist for seven years and throughout each of our sessions I am very transparent. Not only am I transparent but I’ve recently begun to look inwards at myself and my surroundings and have been able to pinpoint things in my environment that shift my moods. He’ll ask me what I think I should do, and I usually always have some type of suggestion. Stay away, walk away, breathe, but this time was different.
I’m elated that I’m finally divorced and I have my name back, but I think what triggered this down slide was the realization that without school, I really don’t have much of a life. In order to accept myself and really come to terms that everything that I had been looking for was always within me, I had to isolate myself and focus on just that – me. I kept my head in the books, rarely went out to see my friends, and I went to work and I would repeat. Now, I’m graduating and I’m thinking about going for a second master’s knowing damn well, I need to sit and chill for a bit. I got my dream job before I even finished my final semester, I mean things are going really good…I just don’t feel that way. And it’s not enough to tell yourself to buck up; I can see my bad behaviors returning. I’m drinking throughout the week instead of my weekend only schedule, I’m smoking more and more cigarettes, and the weight I lost recently, I gained that right back. I KNOW I’m in trouble, I KNOW this is going to get bad, but I’m really trying to do this round without any additional medications.
Fighting everyday through this bout of depression that has triggered my OCD and anxiety up the wazoo is exhausting and having to be honest that I’m tired because I’ve used all of my spoons just to get through the day, is a little embarrassing. I don’t have JJ in my corner anymore to understand what I meant, to give me space, and I don’t have the energy or patience to explain to anyone what spoons are. I realized the other day I had been a complete sh*t friend as my friend flat out said, “It’s been a bad week,” but I was so focused on myself, I didn’t ask her what was wrong.
I think I have to acknowledge all of this, learn from this, so that I can continue to help myself and be an advocate for my health. I have to be mindful of my drinking and smoking habits, anything that signifies I’m about to fall to pieces before it actually happens. The thing is, I ALWAYS know in the back of my mind when I’m not going to be okay a month before it happens. I’ve been vocal about those feelings when he asks me when I want to come back. It’s great that my psychiatrist trusts me to look into myself and be honest about what’s going on.
I knew in my gut I had to write tonight, and I’m so happy I did because as I typed that last sentence, it all clicked. I’m afraid that just because school is over that I’m nothing or that I have nothing. That’s really not true. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am, this just means that I have to discover things that I enjoy and do them. I’ve been hiding behind school, work, and relationships for so long that having another layer stripped away in such a short time – that’s what did it. I’m afraid to death of who I am without those things…
WebMD. 2018. Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/rapid-cycling-bipolar-disorder#1