i forgot to title this post
i was going to write this post yesterday, but then i got distracted and forgot, started reading the news instead, came across an article discussing 50 Shades of Grey, got excited, bought the Kindle version on amazon (on credit, of course), and read until 4am this morning.
as i mentioned, i’ve cycled into a hypomanic state. i was starting to get suspicious when my days became SUPER productive, but by mid-week it was undeniable because i was getting fewer and fewer hours of sleep each night. my 8-9 hours became 6, then 4, then 3. once i popped up after only 3 hours and was wide awake, there was pretty much no doubt. clearly i’m going to have to get better at early identification.
that day…Thursday, I think it was…was a small slice of euphoric heaven. my senses were alight and hypersensitive. when people talk at regular volume it sounds to me like shouting and i have to tell them to lower their voice. i am more emotional and less in touch with reality. the concept of consequences escapes me.
fortunately (or unfortunately?) i had an appointment with my psychiatrist that day who figured out pretty quickly what was going on. i was out of it. and i couldn’t blame alcohol or drugs or anything else for this state.
i was clearly hypomanic.
i was clearly bipolar.
there is not really much room for doubt now. it’s possible, but the window of possibility has shrunk considerably. i accept my fate.
told her i want retin-A for the acne that has plagued my skin and is a common side effect of lithium, but she advised against it because it is associated with depression. i still want to use it anyway. i’m almost 30 for fuck’s sake, and i look like i’m in middle school again.
since i was hypomanic, and the effects of lithium are dose-dependent, one possible strategy to bring me back down to earth is to up the dose to 1200 or 1500 mg. fortunately, my psychiatrist took my vanity into consideration and instead recommended a small dose of valproic acid, or Depakote. i’ve also needed to take a break from the Prozac for a couple days.
now my daily regimen will look something like:
- 3 300mg lithium,
- 1 250mg valproic acid,
- 1 20mg fluoxetine (prozac),
- 1 1000mg fish oil,
- and 1 female formula multivitamin
we’re eventually going to move me off of prozac entirely and then start me on Lamictal, which will take a number of months before i get to the therapeutic dose.
i’ve been playing with the idea of not taking any meds because of that nagging voice that says maaaaaybe, just maybe i’m not really bipolar and all this is just some twisted expectation effect resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy. i was talking to lizziecracked from Running Naked With Scissors and thought it might be an interesting exercise to have a side-by-side comparison of the pros and cons for people taking medications versus not. of course, everyone responds differently but i think it would be interesting to hear about the experiences of others. this would be a *descriptive* activity, NOT a *prescriptive* one. anyone interested?
back to thursday. i got to enjoy the rest of the day in a hypomanic state, although i was totally out of touch with reality and more emotional than usual. i was very tempted to go buy alcohol and cigarettes and go out with friends. i decided to stay home instead…until i got a wild hair to go to my LAB MEETING and to TELL MY ADVISOR what’s been going on.
i didn’t change, shower, or anything. within 3 minutes of having the idea i was out the door. no consequences, indeed.
surprisingly, he was happy to see me which i found interesting since i hadn’t returned his calls since he made them a month ago. he knew i was diagnosed with depression, but i thought it strange when he made an offhand comment asking if “what goes up must come down” explained my extended absence.
about 3/4 of the way into the meeting i asked for the floor. my heart started to race and i was overcome with dizziness, like i get for any public speaking event. there were only two other people than me there, one being my advisor and the other being a colleague, but it felt like i was talking to an audience of 100. i was able to get out one sentence before the waterworks started. there was no stopping it so i gave in. i knew crying would be a risk anyway since i was in a hypomanic state, so fuck it. let’s roll.
i got through my 20 second speech and managed a smile through my tears, waiting for the judgment, rejection, disgust, fear, and condescension that had plagued my imagination when it came to this moment. time stopped in the moment of silence between my speech and his response.
he looked at me deadpan and said:
“Okay. To tell you the truth I’ve suspected you were bipolar for a long time.”
i didn’t know whether to be relieved or insulted. i was a little bit of both, to be honest. i was also afraid. does this mean everyone can tell that i’m bipolar? have people just been watching me and thinking, oh, there’s that untreated mentally ill girl again.
meanwhile he’s telling me that he’s glad i told him and he’s actually recommending that i’m open about my condition (…) because then people have something to which they can attribute my erratic behavior. otherwise they have to come up with their own explanations, which are never as forgiving as they should be.
i’m shaking but the news is out there. he knows (and apparently knew for a long time coming). not only that, but at one point he even dated a bipolar woman and wrote a paper about bipolar disorder (which i need to look up now, of course). according to him, he “knows all about it” (i’m skeptical about that). it was certainly a different turn out than i had expected.