Turns out, my psychiatrist has diagnosed me as being bi-polar. I started lithium yesterday. I don’t really notice anything different yet, other than being crazy thirsty (no pun intended). See, lithium does umm… stuff involving sodium or something, which in turn makes the psycho, I’m sorry, taker of the medicine super thirsty. I really fought to not have that diagnosis. When I was in my late teens I was on lithium and a different anti-depressant. My doctor didn’t know about any of the abuse and trauma that I went through, so he didn’t attribute PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to any of my symptoms. Now, I’ve revealed everything to my therapist and to my psychiatrist. At first it was depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Now, it’s bi-polar, anxiety, and PTSD. Kind of sucks. I really thought that for the past 13 years I was okay.
Who am I kidding, I’ve always known I wasn’t okay, I just thought I could control it. Controlling it became far too taxing for me. Working 2-3 jobs for the past 12 years off and on (mostly on) I think both hid it and instigated it.
By working 15 hours a day, I didn’t have to focus on my problems. I always had something else to focus on. I was a youth leader on top of it all, so if I didn’t have work to focus on, I had my teens. I was able to get lost in tasks and stupid crap. I would wake up, go to work, go to the second job, go home, scarf down some food, then go to bed. That was my pattern for years. I distracted myself from the reality. I avoided all of the racing thoughts in my head by busy-ness. Working hid all of my mental issues.
Working 15 hours a day, I was exhausted. It became too much to try to have a social life and keep up with work and keep up with sleep. I chose to start diminishing sleep, so I could have it all. Then it got to a point that I couldn’t sleep anymore because I couldn’t turn off the racing thoughts in my brain. I’d be at work and get anxious when a customer would come in, call, or drive through. I had my first anxiety attack at my part-time job on a fairly slow night. I just couldn’t handle it anymore. That’s when I knew I had to do something about all of this. I was at my full-time gig and just felt so overwhelmed that I grabbed a utility knife/box cutter and cut my leg. I felt release and at that moment, I knew I just ruined the progress I had made. It was like an alcoholic having a relapse and taking a drink. It’s hard. It’s harder to stop again than it was to just keep away from it.
I’m still working on keeping away from cutting. I haven’t cut since Friday. I’m really proud of that. Tomorrow afternoon will be one full week without cutting. I’ve been so tempted this week, but I haven’t. Granted, I picked up another un-healthy habit to replace that one, but both Kelly and Kim (my therapist) say they’d rather I smoke during this time than cut. So, smoke it is. I’m trying to do that as responsibly as I can though. I’m smoking tobacco free and nicotine free herbal cigarettes. Yes, it still is bad for me – tar and carbon monoxide, but they’re non-addictive. That’s good, because there’s no need to switch a crazy harmful addiction for another crazy harmful addiction. This just gives me 5 minutes to be outside and to chill out and let the anxiety drop. It’s kind of good for me.
My point is I don’t like my diagnosis. I fought against it for over a decade. I withheld some info from my psychiatrist, because I was afraid she’d think I was bi-polar. I don’t have a problem with people who are, I just don’t want to be one. I’m trying to get to the point that I’ll “radically accept” it (something they talked about at the program today), but it’s hard. It might be easier if the meds start kicking in and I start to feel normal again. I think at that point it’ll be like, “Okay, I have this thing, but I’m going to manage it so it doesn’t flare up again”. Until then, I’m kind of angry about it, yet bizarrely hopeful – hopeful that whatever medicine that I’m on will start to work. I have been waiting since I was around 6 years old for my thoughts to be consistently mellow. I guess it’s just a wait and see kind of approach that I’m taking.
To summarize: I’m apparently bi-polar. I’m on a total of 5 medicines now (two for sleep, one for depression, one for anxiety, and one as a mood stabilizer). I’m not happy about it, but I’m 100% compliant because they know more than I do. I certainly wouldn’t be my own lawyer, so why would I be my own psychiatrist? Oh, and as always, I love my wife. Yup. That sums it all up.
* So, this was a really chaotic piece. I had a hard time focusing. I kept re-editing which is something I never do. I write, I spell check, I post. This time I wrote, rewrote, wrote again, spell checked, deleted a bunch, wrote more, deleted, wrote, rewrote, deleted, spell checked. It’s probably not pretty, but, it’s honest. If you hate it, I’m going to blame the meds. If you liked it, you might be wrong.