Bipolar and Me!

I remember the day I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder like it was yesterday.  In fact it was 1990 and on my fourth psychiatrist.  I had been previously diagnosed with clinical depression and while I was indeed depressed, the medications were not working well.

I had been seeing this particular doctor for a few months as an outpatient of the local hospital.  I lived alone and was an admitted workaholic so no one noticed anything while I was up, just when I would plummet into that deep dark hole of despair.

At this particular appointment I was feeling pretty good and was telling my doctor that things were going really well.  He must have seen something in the way I was talking or acting because he asked me to describe a normal day for him.

I said that I would get up about 4:30 am, shower, dress, eat, and walk to the rapid transit a few blocks from my home for a half hour ride.  I would get into my office about 6:30 am, even though I didn’t have to start until 8.  I ran a data entry department for International Trade and I liked that quiet time to get caught up before my staff got in.  I would work through coffee breaks and either bring a lunch or go to the café downstairs – either way I would eat at my desk.  I left the office about 6:30 (quitting time was 4 pm) with my work computer and would make supper while uploading the day’s workload to the mainframe.  I would quit about midnight, clean my apartment and get to bed around 2:30 am and start it all over.  Yes, that is two hours of sleep.

He looked at me across the desk and had a very kind smile on his face.  He said that he now understood what was going on.  While I did suffer from clinical depression, the medications were triggering another problem – bipolar disorder (more commonly known back then as manic depression).  I was immediately hospitalized and put on lithium.  It worked for a year or so before I went on a horrific manic episode that I may talk about in a later post.

The reason it was so hard to detect the bipolar was because I would go steadily up over what could be a few weeks or more commonly a few months.  During this time my days would be described as above.  Then when my body would just totally wear out, I would dive straight down into a horrible depression.  I would need to take time off work because I couldn’t get out of bed, wasn’t into wearing make-up or even showering some days.  There would be suicidal thoughts and even attempts – but they were only cries for attention.  I would take pills, try to drown myself in the bath tub and other things that would just put me in the psychiatric ward.  This went on for years until I was finally let go from my government job.

I was able to receive a disability pension which I am still on to this day.  Due to the combination of physical and emotional challenges, I will never have a “job” per-say again, but I do things to earn a little money (which is allowed on the pension).

I have come a long way since first diagnosed.  I have, for the most part, been able to keep my bipolar in check, but that doesn’t mean I am not aware of it 24/7/365.


4 Replies to “Bipolar and Me!”

  1. it takes daily strength to live with mental illness, I was wondering if you might benefit from my blog, I work with some unique strategies to try to help others: . I admire you hugely

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I related to a lot of this, I too would get into the office before anyone else and would often leave last. I would throw myself into a project and never considered that my behaviour was manic. It just seemed to me that I was a normal motivated person who sometimes suffered crippling depression, not a person that was sometimes manic and sometimes depressed and other times somewhere inbetween. I too have learned that I can’t work in that environment again, I can’t hold a steady 9-5 job because of my illness. Luckily I have found other ways around that in the work sense so I’m very lucky, but I still feel sad that I’m limited in this way sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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