Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Accepting Myself (Part 1)

While most of my bipolar symptoms ended when I stopped taking medication, a few have remained. Sometimes, I still have energy ebbs and flows, and while it's no longer rapid cycling, there are days when my energy level is too high.

That doesn't translate into hypomania, but sometimes I talk too much. While I try to be conscious of it, it's not always possible.

One of the best things I learned in the eight months I recently spent in therapy was to be more accepting of my behavior. When I explained how bad I felt about a number of residual bipolar symptoms, my therapist continually said, "I have lots of patients who aren't bipolar and they do that (whatever "that" was)."

"Really?" I would ask.

"Yes," he responded. "I just don't see all this behavior as bipolar. Sometimes, people talk too much about themselves, and don't listen. Sometimes, they have a lot of energy even though they're not bipolar. Sometimes, they're very enthusiastic about something, and then their enthusiasm wanes. Everything you're describing to me is within the realm of 'normalcy.'"

As I listened to my therapist's perceptions of my behavior--week after week and month after month--I realized that all the negative responses I had gotten during my 15 year illness when the medication caused erratic behavior and rapid cycling--had taken their toll. And I had become hyper sensitive about everything I did, and how people responded to me.

But, after hearing my therapist discount all the "crap" that I'd felt had been piled on top of me and was so suffocating, it was time to dig my way out of the pit, and stop accepting a "bipolar label" for every behavioral inconsistency.

(to be continued)


Mariposa said...

I am so happy to read this Susan! My therapist/spiritual director keeps telling me the same things.

It's quite we react to things...are how others react, just that we try to make too much fuss out of it because of how we were diagnosed in the past. But if there is one thing I've learn about moving, it's to unlearn things that are not beneficial for me.

marja said...

What your therapist said makes sense. I too don't believe all those "symptoms" means that you're necessarily bipolar.

Hey, Susan! Maybe you're not bipolar after all? I think that's what you've been suspecting, isn't it?

You're so fortunate to do so well without the medication. That would not be possible for me.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Mariposa,
So glad to hear you've experienced the same thing. It's comforting to know that. Thanks for sharing.

And, somehow I didn't realized you've moved, so I guess I need to read your blog carefully to learn more.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marja,
Yes, I do suspect I'm not. What has confirmed this is that others seem to find that medication makes them feel better and reduces symptoms (when it works), and in my case it turned two seasonal depressions into a nightmare of an illness.

But, if there was any value in all this pain and suffering, it was learning so much about myself, and becoming even more empathic to others.


Paula Joy said...

I like that the "crazy" things I do does not make me one thing or another. It's just me being me, and people being people. We forget that God made us all different and unique - without people who talk a lot, there would be no need for good listeners!!

When I catch myself doing something that I don't want to be doing or that I find annoying, I give myself GRACE. As long as I am being true to myself and true to who God made me to be, then that's enough.

dipsydoodlingarounddepression said...

I have been told the same thing...that some of my behaviours are just me, not necessarily the illness, and that lots of people have those behaviours who are not bipolar. It kind of comforting and confusing at the same time. I will look forward to your next installment on this topic.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Paula,
What a lovely response! God did make us all unique, and for much of my life I felt blessed by my personality. Then, when I was so sick, I felt "judged" by everything I did.

But, now I'm back to feeling blessed, and it's a really good feeling.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Wendy,
Thanks for your comment. I'll try to explain more in tomorrow's post.


Annie said...

Dear Susan,
It was so right on to hear from your therapist about labeling our behavior"bipolar". It is important to remember that diagnosing is for the professionals( billing and record-keeping) and not necessarily for those of us who have the problems. I encourage you to keep going in the positive direction. This was helpful for me to hear!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Annie,
I often thought that if the psychiatrist who initially diagnosed me had explained that she was doing it for insurance purposes rather than for any other reason, it would have been more honest, and caused me far less grief.

Her diagnosis was "atypical bipolar II," and years later I realized I was atypical because I had so few of the symptoms.

Unfortunately, the medication caused so many more symptoms until I ultimately became a medication-resistant rapid cycling bipolar II.

And when I stopped taking medication, I just suffered from depression again with a bit of hypomania (that had been caused by medication and is a residual symptom now even though I'm mostly off medication).

It been a long haul, and so much of the pain and suffering I experienced was so unnecessary.


Paul Bright said...

this point you are pondering about being sensitive to your own moods is fascinating. I posed a similar question in a Facebook group: how do you know when your up or down moods are because of bipolar disorder or if they are part of your "normal" personality?

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Paul,
Prior to being diagnosed and taking medication, my moods were very stable, except for my two six-week semi-annual depressions.

But after a decade of taking medication, even though I now only take a small amount periodically, my moods haven't returned to their pre-medication levels.

But, it is certainly an interesting question to ponder, isn't it?