I hate bipolar disorder. I hate it so much that I’d like to kill it but that would mean killing me and, no matter how bad it gets, I’m not prepared to die just to rid myself of an enemy.
In the past four or five months I’ve been making an attempt to become bipolar medication free and, on the surface at least, it was becoming a reality except that the reality is that it’s just not going to happen. I am ill and today’s events have brought home to me how ill I am and how much worse it can get. I can wipe out seven or eight years of progress if I keep on reducing the medication and so, with a sense of relief and bitter disappointment, when I return home on Friday I will begin to increase my medication back up to therapeutic levels.
I have one friend who is fearless about challenging my behaviour and, though they admit to not understanding how bipolar disorder works and the effects it has on behaviour, they try to understand and talk to me with big toughness when the situation warrants it. It has warranted it today on two different occasions.
I have been stressed about bringing my dog away with me for the first time. He’s doing brilliantly and is currently sleeping on the floor beside the bed I’m sat on whilst I’m writing about how I’m crumbling inside and outside I’m shattering into several million pieces.
Disclosing that I’m manic at the moment will be no great surprise to some because I’m manic (a side effect of reducing the particular medication that I take) and I’ve been manic for a few months. I’m getting pretty much impossible to be with and it has to stop. This is why people with manic depression commit suicide – the only way we can make it stop by stopping ourselves. I’ve got a semi-colon tattoo which reminds me that I’ve chosen to keep on going but each time I hit a crisis I wonder if this is the one that can make me stop.
Manic depression magnifies our worst and best features until we become living nightmares. I don’t suffer fools gladly and that quite easily runs away into an awful kind of arrogance. I berate people and keep on berating them long after it’s time to stop. There’s an incredibly loud voice in my head that shouts at me to stop but bipolar disorder ignores the screaming and keeps on relentlessly. I embarrass people yet whilst it is happening I feel no shame because the psychosis that presents itself when I am manic deludes me into thinking that I’m not just right but I’m right to expose the fools that surround me. It’s a disgusting state to be in. I’m a ridiculously ill person to get to this point and even though it was my (well meant) actions that got me ill I cannot mend myself alone. I need the support of people I push away with my bad behaviour.
Thanks to the courageous friend who gave me a very tough talking to tonight I can recognise my current illness and plan the steps that will make me well again. An emergency appointment with my GP on Monday, an increase in medication, a less driven life and a few days out with my camera to start with. I need to waste time by sitting around on park benches watching my dog chase squirrels he will never catch and letting my rats play in my bed leaving little trails of half eaten apple in their wake.
I have to accept responsibility for my behaviour and explain it in varying degrees to the people I offend whatever the degree of the offence. I cannot and will not go into the deep and dark corners of what is left of my soul for what happens there can only be shared with a very few but I will offer explanations and not excuses.
I am one of the reasons why poor mental health is a frightening thing. The symptoms of my illness are wrapped up in extremities of bad behaviour and people who don’t know me well enough to know that can be forgiven for their understandable reactions far more easily than I can be forgiven for my actions.
I’m lucky that I have Lasting Power of Attorney registered because this is one of those times I need to hand my life over to other people. Amongst other things, I’ve packed to come away and under estimated the amount of dog food to bring, easily remedied but it shouldn’t have happened. There’s lots of little clues leading up to a great big realisation.
I’m lucky to have a friend who isn’t afraid of tough love, who isn’t afraid of telling me how it is and who refuses to let me hide behind an illness – I may be sick but I am still responsible.
The wild animal that lives within is showing her claws but those claws can and will retract – starting now.