Monday, December 29, 2014

A Deadly Touch of Insomnia

My psychologist told me that insomnia can be a symptom of bipolar disorder. I was glad to hear
that diagnosis. I have Bipolar disorder.. I could feel the relief wash over my body.
I know it sounds weird. No one would be glad to hear that they have a mental illness. But I was. The symptom of insomnia has been something that has bothered me for a long time. I was just happy to know why I had not been sleeping for three years until that point.

I’m a writer with three kids, so yes I find it better to write in the evening when they are fast asleep, the house is quiet and I can think. What becomes an issue is when at 4 o’clock in the morning, I’m no longer writing but still awake watching TV and not sleeping.
I made excuses saying I was just a night owl, yet when the day comes I was expected to function like a normal adult with kids. Kids that needed to get dressed and get off to school and a toddler who cannot take care of herself. The same toddler had to watch while mommy slept on the couch because her mind and body could not stay awake any longer.
If you have ever had long-term insomnia you know what it does to you. If you have never experienced it, I’ll tell you what it was like for me.
I was grumpy and irritable all day. I was not pleasant to be around and became lazy and depressed because of it. I felt guilty for the way I felt that did not mean I could control it. I always
had headaches because I would sleep through breakfast and lunch and then sleep after dinner.
My writing career suffered and I gained weight because I would be up all night eating snacks and watching TV.

So yes I was happy when I was diagnosed and treated. I knew that I was on the road to becoming a happy and healthier me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Over Shopping can be a sign of Bipolar II

Compulsive shopping. That was the last straw. That was the last symptom that put me over the edge and convinced everyone that was trying to help and those who have studied psychology and psychiatry diagnose me with Bipolar II disorder. Over shopping? How can that be a problem?Image I know that is what you are thinking. But it is not the shopping itself that is the problem. It is the compulsion to shop when you have no reason to shop. 

 Shopping when you know that you are on a budget and need to save every penny is a sign that something isn’t right. Combine that extreme compulsion with extreme unwarranted moments of anger and irritability, severe depression, lack of sleep, panic attacks, anxiety and random moments of hypomania where I suddenly have an immense amount of energy until I just crash from exhaustion.
 For my entire life I lived with these symptoms and did not know what was going on with me. That just led me to be more depressed. I was ashamed of what I was feeling and so I tried very hard to be what everyone wanted me to be. I was smart and put together so no one would notice that I was falling apart inside. I fooled my family. Well, I hope that I fooled my family because if I didn’t then that means they saw the signs and they didn’t care.  I like to think that I fooled them and they had no idea. I can see them not noticing the anger and the anxiety.
 I didn’t know what this all meant until I searched for and received help. My family assumed I was just mean and overly dramatic. I discovered that those “overly dramatic” moments were me having panic attacks. I have been married for almost 8 years and my husband was the only one that I was not able to fool. He knew something was off with me and ultimately he just came to the conclusion that I was eccentric or weird and that he would just figure out a way to handle me.  I knew that I drove him crazy. I could not help it.
 I wanted to do better and be better but I could not do it alone. Even though I have been diagnosed and have been given the medication that will help me cope and the therapist that works with me to get me through it, I still drive my husband crazy.
It’s my compulsive shopping. If I don’t stop I will put us into so much debt. Right now we are okay, but at the rate I’m going, that won’t last for long.
Yet, I know I can do it.  I can overcome this compulsion.
I don’t have a choice.

Coming out...As Bipolar.

It’s April Fools’ Day and I decided I would use this day to tell the world I was bipolar II. I figured if people freaked out about it I could take it back and say that it was just an April fool’s prank.
I really didn’t think anyone would believe me anyway. Other than the family that I’ve already told, I didn’t believe anyone would believe that I was bipolar. I mean…really?
How shocked was I when no one questioned it. Some people even some family members  told  me how brave I was to admit that and then others were asking me what my next step was and how did I find out.
It reminded me of the day I came home and announced to my husband and 13-year-old daughter that I was diagnosed with bipolar II. I expected them to be surprised or deny the claims but my daughter said,
“I had a feeling you were.”
Now that comments threw me for a loop. For her to say that she thought I was bipolar shocked me but made me think.
Couldn’t there be another word to describe what I have?  I mean bipolar? That’s the one thing that I thought that I was not. It carries with it negativity from others and I didn’t want to be associated with that term.
Can I be called eccentric?
No, how don’t have enough money to be called eccentric. That word is reserved for crazy old man with millions of dollars. No one wants to call them crazy because…they have millions of dollars.
How about Scatterbrained?
No, I believe when you lock yourself out of your house four times, throw your house keys and wallet into the trash in a Taco Bell bag and one day leave the front door wide open reserves a much stronger verdict than “scatterbrained”.
Extremely emotional?
May be, but crying in the greeting card aisle like someone shot my cat over how sweet the greeting cards are is embarrassing but I think it’s a little bit more than just very emotional.
So here I am sitting with this bipolar diagnosis and I’m not sure what I want to do next. What should I do next? I wanted to be anything but bipolar not even bipolar II.
When you tell people you are bipolar they assume you’re crazy. They say things like “my uncle was bipolar and he killed three people.” OR “I know a lady who was bipolar and she drowned her kids.” And I literally had somebody tell me that they knew somebody who was bipolar and threw themselves over a bridge. (I think it is common sense this is the worst thing you can say to somebody who’s bipolar.)
I don’t think my husband really wants me to announce my diagnosis to people. I think he is afraid of how others will treat me. It is the same fear that I have myself.
Now that I know what is going on with me, I am actually relieved. I mean I knew that there was not quite right. I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder but now I feel I have the full diagnosis.  I feel relieved now after decades of not knowing what was wrong with me, I have some answers. I am also relieved that I have moved passed that high school mentality that I should care what others think about me. No matter what the diagnosis, I am still me. No, that’s not true. I am a better me, which makes me a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, cousin and friend.
I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and though I announced on April Fools’ Day…it’s no joke.