Living with Bipolar

Bipolar...get it?

It’s hard.

  • Did you know that I’m important?
  • I know what is best for you.
  • Me on the city council? Surely, you’re joking. State senator, on the other hand, is more in line with my abilities.
  • How much did it cost? Who cares. I’ll get the money somewhere.
  • You’re a moron. Why can’t anyone see things the way I do. It’s not that difficult, just use your freakin’ brain!

Such comments and mindsets aren’t uncommon for someone that suffers from bipolar disorder during a manic episode…and we’re not even getting into a depressive episode.

Me, I’m rapid cycling. Where most people with bipolar disorder experience months of depression followed by prolonged mania, mine cycles through each month.

Sometimes the depression can be physically debilitating. In 2008 and 2009 my psychiatrist had tried a few different medications on me to offer relief. With bipolar, you cannot just prescribe antidepressants, because it would induce mania. You can’t treat the mania, because it would induce depression.

What has been successful for most people are an anti-psychotics or antileptic. Antileptics are used to treat seizures by decreasing the levels of salt conductors in the brain. This has the effect of cutting off the lows and cutting off the highs. A person with bipolar can then exist between the two states and experience “normalcy”.

This is how it feels

Lithium changed my whole perspective on life. For a brief time, I experienced what it feels like to be “normal”. Lithium is cheap! It cost me $8 per month for a prescription, but I had to get my blood tested every month. Lithium is only effective at near toxic dosage. Any more and I could die, any less and it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, lithium caused me to have Parkinsonian cogwheeling.

I was then switched to oxcarbezepine. It is expensive! It cost me over $500 per month! The second month, I ordered a three month supply from Canada for $800. It worked too, but sadly, it caused my heart to stop beating several times a day. That can be scary!

Because all bipolar medications rely on the same mechanism in the brain, I cannot take any medication. They all decrease conductivity in the brain and apparently, this was deadly for me.

It took a while, but I had to find my own way to cope.

I love the mania! It makes me feel that I can do anything. Truly, anything I’ve ever accomplished in my life has been the result of a manic episode. It can work hours on end. My creativity and inspiration are boundless.

However, it comes with a price.

I’m an asshole when I’m manic. I blow money when I’m manic. I’m self-centered, selfish and have grandiose self-important ideas when I’m manic. My mania is also ALWAYS followed by depression.

Severe debilitating depression follows all of my manic episodes. Since I can no longer take medication, I had to find another way to cope. It is unconventional to say the least. It is Jaime.

We now both know what is happening to me. This is important for maintaining our relationship. My depression and mood swings aren’t an excuse for bad behavior, but like I stated, we know what is happening. Jaime can tell when it is coming. She knows how to reassure me. She knows what I need so that when I hit the point that I want to hurt myself or take my own life, she’s there to help me back to stability.

I can’t overstate how important it is to recognize why I am feeling the way I do, and to know that there is no reason for my feelings other than this bipolar disorder. I know I’ve done nothing wrong. That makes all the difference in the world.

So if you’re ever wondering why I’m gung ho about something one week and then ambivilent the next, now you know.

P.S. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for Jaime.