when you’re strange
the doors ‘people are strange‘ has been on repeat in my mind for two days now. it seems befitting since i seem to be internalizing this diagnosis a little more each day and now i can reframe behavior previously perceived as odd. don’t get me wrong, it’s still odd, but now there are just more people who share my characteristics. it’s like finding a sense of community in my diagnosis.
it also means i have some explanation for previously inexplicable behavior. for instance, in the last year i have found myself unable to function more times than i can count. i feel as though i’ve been more susceptible to stress in some ways, which has been difficult to accept because i have always felt that i have withstood a great deal of stress over the course of my life. so, i thought, many times, that i could just push through it. i would try to set goals and make plans and fail and fail and fail. and i suck at failing so it just made me feel worse.
especially since i am a doctoral candidate, and i am expected to be very responsible and to have my shit together and be able to pull off research projects and teaching assignments and managing a lab. i found i was constantly flogging myself for just sucking at life in general. for being unable to be consistent and follow through. i thought it was just some flaw in my character, that somehow my struggle against the waves of my mood meant i am just weak and undisciplined. that there is always something i could be doing to remedy the situation. it got so bad that sometimes i even thought i became failure. like if you looked up failure in the dictionary, you would find my picture and a list of bullet pointed examples for why i am made of suck.
in fact, sitting in the psychiatrist’s office, as she was describing what i could expect from a stabilized state compared to a hypomanic or depressive episode, i asked if bipolar mood swings could account for even rapid changes in mood or in being inconsistent and she said yes. i don’t think i meant to say the following out loud, but it kind of just came out. i started tearing up and in possibly the meekest voice i have ever heard out of myself before–i thought i sounded like a little girl, in fact–i asked, “so you mean i can stop beating myself up for that?”
i would just like to say that going from feeling like a piece of shit failure to having a possible explanation, a REASON for behavior that had been so confusing and detrimental, was like lifting 1000 pounds off my shoulders. and that treatment might allow me to manage those experiences…well, it was then that i decided lithium was worth a shot.
so now i am on lithium, and i am not quite sure i am at “management” stages yet. i am still feeling hypomanic today. i am impatient with people and easily distracted. fidgety up the wazoo. my thoughts are racing and i am giddy and hyper. listening to music feels good. the strange thing, however, is that i would expect sleepless nights with this kind of hypomania…except last night i couldn’t have stayed up past midnight if i tried. i was SO. TIRED.
i have no idea what next week will bring, or even tomorrow. i still don’t want to go out or socialize with many people, because my hypomanic state will be such a stark contrast to the debilitating depression i experienced not even a week ago. i don’t want to have to explain one state or the other, or how i got from one place to the next. and i don’t want to offend those who i failed as a colleague, or as an instructor .
there is also a fear i can’t deny, that people will somehow be able to tell. i think my hypomanic behaviors are very obvious, and i do feel a bit like a crazy person because i’m so elated and unable to focus. i don’t even want to call friends because i’m talking so rapidly that sometimes i stutter, and even typing i forget words or get ahead of myself. if i had to guess, i would say i would fit in perfectly on a dance floor at about 1am when everyone else is already drunk.
if only i can figure out a way to get paid for hypomanic behavior, then i’m set…