Sunday, June 3, 2007

How We Deal With Bipolar Disorder (Part 2)

Although I said I wouldn't be responding to the comments in my blog until Monday night, I've changed my mind. Because of my two week hypomanic period, I've been in bed most of today, crashing. It hasn't been a bad thing. I've just been very tired. And because I fell the other day, I'm also very sore and the aspirin I've been taking knocks me out.

Every few hours when I've awakened, I checked my blog to see who has made comments. In the midst of a hypomanic recovery, it seemed to me that my last posting was perhaps the most important one yet...to me.

Since February 1 of this year, I've posted 83 times. So, it's a big deal for me to say that these posts have been the most important. As I look back and reread what I've written, I realize that some of the posts were meant to be amusing; others were heartfelt. But perhaps none have been as important to me as those I've been writing in the past few days.

Why? Because it took me so long to figure all this out.

For years I didn't realize that hypomanias beget depressions. And at least one of the five psychiatrists I've seen in the last fourteen years has said, "The worse the hypomania, the worse the depression."

I always thought that was an odd thing for him to have said...to me. Because by the time he said it, he had already categorized me as medication resistant. He knew nothing I had taken could end a hypomania. He also knew that I'd tried acupuncture, naturopathy, mega-vitamins, and exercise (in this case as a means of tiring myself out) in addition to traditional treatments. And the alternative treatments didn't work either.

Years later, I sought help from a holistic psychiatrist (she was the biggest charlatan of all and I only wish I was going to "name names" in my upcoming book because she truly deserves public ridicule) and she prescribed amino acids in addition to $157 worth of other worthless remedies.

It was only when I began seeing the doctor of integrative medicine that I began believing that I could "heal myself" if I believed I could. Again, that doesn't mean that I have ended my depressive episodes or the hypomanias but both are way more manageable and I have lessened the severity and duration of each. At the same time, I began to feel that if I could identify symptoms and triggers and deal with them, it would help, and it has.

Now...to address the comments...first of all I want to thank everyone who's commented these past few days. As I'm writing this, I would like to thank Marja, Sydney, Dootz, Terry, and Cindy. (If other people post after 4:30 today, I can't thank you until tomorrow night because as soon as I write this, I need to leave and won't be home until late.)

Marja posted multiple times (as always, thanks) and I don't have time to address all her comments but the one I will address is about her book (obviously we all need to read it) and her belief that we must help ourselves. As you all probably know, Marja from Roller Coaster leads a group at her church and provides a lot of comfort to others. While she does have her up times and sad ones as well, what I've learned about her these last few months is that, like me, she's always trying something to heal herself. Perhaps more than me, she reaches out to others.

Syd from Bipolarity wrote to say that she experiences all of the hypomanic side effects I mentioned. I was stunned and delighted and it wasn't because misery loves company. (I like Sydney too much to want her to suffer.) But after all these years, I was just shocked to find that anyone else could share these symptoms. Every single time I've mentioned these symptoms to psychiatrists, they've shook their head or shrugged and said, "I've never had a never patient tell me that." Go figure!

Dootz from SurfCountry makes an interesting point about his doctors and you should read what he says. (You should also read his new book Lullabye. He's a terrific writer and I plan on reviewing Lullabye next week after my final exam, which is on Wednesday.)

Thanks to Gay Bipolar Guy from his comments regarding hypomania. His experience with medication was awful. But it sounds like he's a real survivor. Also, the artwork on his site is terrific.

I want to thank Terry (do you have a blog I should add to my list?) for asking whether our doctors pay more attention to us when we're ill. What do you think? Actually, in my new book, I've written that I felt I would have received far better treatment if I'd ever gone to a psychiatric session and appeared unwashed and messy rather than clean and well-coiffed.

At my very worst--which has been unspeakably awful--I still forced myself to bathe and blow-dry my hair. In saying this, I do not mean to minimize other peoples' pain and suffering. It's just that we all have personal standards that are important to us; that make us who we are. I've always felt that the beginning of the end for me would be to walk out the door with unkempt hair. (Again, you realize that I am a bit quirky.)

Finally, I want to thank Cindy for writing three comments today and for contributing to the post on Volunteering. I think she's right on target and is a great role model because she's been so successful in staving off the worst of this illness.

I've got to dash out (although given my level of physical pain, "dash" isn't quite the right word choice). I hope this discussion continues in my absence, and I hope the rest of your weekend is happy!

1 comment:

marja said...

Susan: I'm way behind in my blogging and haven't checked up on people for days, so I just read this and it's Tuesday already. Thank you so much for your comments about me here and for plugging my plug about my book. You're a true friend.