Monday, May 12, 2008

Do I Really Have Bipolar...

...or am I just a horrible person looking for an excuse for my sometimes admittedly rotten behavior?

Self doubt occurs with alarming frequency, these days. If I do have bipolar disorder, then where are all these "episodes" I'm supposed to have, one after the other? Seems the only time I had episodes one after the other was when I was taking medications that were supposed to help. Go figure.

And the thing I call the Big Mania happened during a period of incredible stress and Family Bullshit. I don't know how anyone could survive it intact.

So maybe I don't have bipolar disorder.

But...there is a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic "writing on fire" episodes that must then be explained. And I can't explain them. All I can do is look at some of the things I got up to when I was supposedly manic and shake my head and mutter, "WTF was I thinking?"

So, okay, maybe the diagnosis does have some merit.

But...if that's the case, don't I need to be on medication for the rest of my life? Because if I really do have bipolar disorder, isn't it awfully irresponsible of me to be running around unmedicated? I mean, after all, it's not just me, here, I have a husband and kids...

But...I'm doing everything I can to stay stable...and it seems to be working...other than the nasty effects of the trazodone withdrawal, but that's the medication, not me...

But...my doctor shakes my confidence every time I see him, because he says I'm taking a huge risk, and wouldn't I like to try Abilify, because it's got a really benign side effects profile...

This is the crap that keeps me awake at night.

(See Furious Seasons post today about the overdiagnosis of bipolar disorder for the post that inspired this one and got me thinking, again, about whether I am bipolar or just horrible...)

4 comments:

Gianna said...

can you find a doctor who respects your choices?

people heal. it doesn't matter if you did or did not meet the criteria for bipolar disorder in the DSM at one time. people are not stagnant.

I know of hundreds of people who are well now after being diagnosed. half the battle is what we believe. the other half is taking care of ourselves...

have you read the recovery stories on my site...they now have a separate tab on the top of the page...

believe in yourself...and you sure as hell are not horrible...all human being behave badly sometime...

tomorrow I'm posting on this overdiagnosis stuff, also inspired by Philip...I wrote for 4 hours today...two original pieces!! I was so excited...I haven't been that productive in months...

love to you Jazz...

Jazz said...

Thanks, Gianna. Mostly I believe in myself. But sometimes I look back on the year or so before my diagnosis and wonder. I will check out your recovery stories.

And good for you for writing so much! It's such a kick when you suddenly find yourself writing (and enjoying it!) after a long dry spell, isn't it?

Love to you, too.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jazz,
Every doctor seems so concerned about compliance, but they are so much less concerned when you're really sick on medication.

What if...you have bipolar tendencies, but you've truly healed yourself? What if...for the rest of your life you'll never have another episode again? What if whatever happened to you was truly caused by certain behavioral patterns that you've changed?

And, in my estimation, no medication is perfectly safe--even the ones I take. However, I must tell you that when I tried Abilify,I had such a severe episode of shortness of breath that I almost had to go to the emergency hospital. (Given, my reaction to medication is not the norm, but still).

Like Gianna, I think you should trust your instincts.

Susan
P.S. Sorry I didn't include you in the list of moms who blog. Belatedly, Happy Mother's Day!

Jazz said...

Susan--
Yes, I think that you are right. I need to start looking at it in terms of having healed myself rather than in terms of gee, I wonder when the next episode is coming along. The last three years have been my best ever, and that's saying something, because I can recall depression-like feelings all the way back to when I was about six years old. I need to stop letting my doctor shake my confidence. I am just now embarking on a project of writing and healing, in which I plan to examine some of these issues...I got the idea from a link you have on your site: "One Year of Writing and Healing". I'll probably use some of the exercises from that site, but I'm also going to work my way through Julia Cameron's "Vein of Gold" and Deena Metzger's "Writing for your Life."

Thanks for the Mother's Day wishes!