So recently I’ve been having major troubles with my mental health.
I’ve mentioned in the past briefly about my struggles with my bipolar II and OCD. Generally I’ve framed it in terms of how it’s been a struggle in relation to my spiritual/religious practices. What its like for me being “crazy” in the overarching pagan community. How I’ve dealt with talking online to others about my interactions with others. That’s generally how I’ve tried to keep it. Because ostensibly the point of this blog was originally to be just about my spiritual journey. Really though, it’s a blog about me as a whole person.
And recently I’ve been falling apart.
See, bipolar is a terrible monster. I don’t have the extreme poles of full mania and severe depression. I have the perhaps sometimes more insidious poles of severe, gripping depression for months on end interspersed with hypo-mania that makes me irritable, angry, hyper-excitable and just…anxious–as well as being over-creative and energetic. So while I don’t present as really being the stereotypical bipolar, I get all the fun, frightful effects. (I’m in no way mitigating anyone else’s bipolar experiences, this is just my experiences with the disease)
And it grates on my family. My mother has told me multiple times that I’m a monster to my family un-medicated. I rail against them and I say, when I’m hypo-manic, some of the most atrocious things. I’m an unholy terror, if I believe what my family has told me of the things I’ve done and said while I’m at my worst. And given that no one ever records these things, and I don’t really remember specific things I do when I’m irritable, beyond specific feelings of being really annoyed with people for just doing things they do…I’m forced to believe that they’re telling me the truth about the things I’ve said.
Which is why I take medication on a daily basis. I don’t take your standard bipolar medication though. Most people assume bipolar people take lithium (which is the stereotypical granddaddy of all bipolar medications). Which, to be fair, if I had bipolar type I – what we used to call manic depression – I probably would have started on that one. But I don’t. See, with my bipolar II, and with my history of being medication resistant during the nearly 10 years they misdiagnosed me as having multiple forms of depression, I am on a fairly unusual bipolar medication. I have to be, considering my family has a history of being what doctors call “medication resistant”. Everyone in my family, myself included, builds up tolerances and medications then begin to fail to work, so I can’t use traditional, normal medication options that would be usual first steps.
What I take is actually more traditionally a heavy-duty anti-psychotic or anti-seizure medication. And I take what is considered a high dosage as well. My doctor and I take good care to make sure that I’m well cared for, and that I’m constantly monitored to ensure that I’m healthy and not having any trouble with the side effects, so that’s not a problem. But still–beyond the stigma of my having bipolar disorder, then I’m taking freaking anti-psychotic drugs to control it. So it’s like I’m twelve steps past crazy on the “crazy” scale. So I’m like…double-stigmatized with all of it. And I know that’s all mental and in my head. And I shouldn’t care. Because my health is more important than the stigma, but I can admit that I’m just social enough that I internalized the stigmas and they just kind of jump out at me. So I just…I hate taking medication.
That doesn’t even begin to bring into consideration the medication I take to control my OCD. Which, considering the recent struggles with my bipolar, the OCD is the minor issue recently.
But lately I’ve been falling apart, like I said.
See, a major problem with bipolar is that you begin feeling fine on medication. And even though you logically know you shouldn’t stop taking medication, you just think, it can’t hurt to stop, because nothing is going wrong, and everything is under your control. And I know better than anyone that it’s dangerous to think like that. But, I’d been on my medication for months without trouble, and I just…I stopped taking it. Which was stupid, and I knew in the back of my head that it was going to blow up in my face, but it’s part of the thinking.
And sure enough – I just had a total mental breakdown on Monday night. I completely lost it. I’m doing better, I started taking my medication again. And I’m setting up an appointment to go start speaking to a counselor again (which I haven’t done in 3 years). But, this type of medication takes time, about a month, to really build up in the system. So I’m still shaky and terribly out of sorts. I knew better of course. So I just have to hold myself together and not lose it again for another month. Which is, admittedly, asking for a lot when I’m so stressed out that I lost it because my job is so stressful that I’m losing sleep and appetite. I just have to do it though.
I just have to take better care of myself. I know that. And this was just proof to myself of exactly how bad it is when I don’t care for myself.
So that’s why I haven’t been doing much. I’ve been admittedly not doing the best at caring for myself over the last month-month and a half-ish. Once I feel a bit better I’ll be back to writing more.∗