Sunday, 2 June 2013

The manic who forgot she was a depressive, too (and more)

I know when I am depressed. It's in my long hair. It gets tangles and knots. Sweat. Dirt. I know when I am hypo/manic. My hair is perfectly brushed several times a day. Combed clean. I don't know what it's like when I am stable. But I do think it's a little bit of both, maybe on the same day or different on different days.

I was stable. There was a time, yes. When I was eating light, doing light exercises, walks in the mountains. Quiet at times and at other times, connections I never imagined could exist. I did not speak the language well, or barely at all without some notes of some sort. I did not have a phone at all. I had limited access to email, but I was researching.

Research is critical to me. Speaking to the PhD choir here, I know. But you see, I start my PhD in August. I am nervous as heck, I will be honest. Will I start and fail? Will I fail before I start?

Anyhow, back to the research. I was researching important issues to me, deeply personal, deeply emotional, one might even say spiritual whatever that means to me. I was in my element. In all senses of the word/world.

I can't tell you what I was researching. For a time, I had no idea what I was researching. This is a semi-joke, all loving of course. But there was consistency in our spontaneous system of research. There was also consistency in my thoughts and actions. All along, I had wanted to document lowering my medications when I returned home. Because in the mind of my heart, I knew there was a little something off. Now, as I mentioned in my last post, I am documenting my madness. It's all the same. To me anyway. Because with medication withdrawal, there comes some withdrawal effects that can be and are dangerous.

Did I experience these withdrawal effects? I can't say for sure. But there was social pressure. To drink. To smoke cigarettes. There was R with his own issues. There was other systems of instability whether I was in the city of 2 or at my original home.

Also: Am I just someone who needs and should be medicated with high dosages of psychotropic medications? 

I do think I need a medication or two for this transition. To achieve my goal: my PhD studies. Even in madness, it was there. But I don't think I need to be ashamed anymore of my emotions. I don't think I need to coat over the symptoms always.

I am grounded, but angry. Angry at a lot of folks. (The whole lot: docs, people, past partners, old friends) Angry at myself for not taking better care of me. For letting it get this far.

But something I learned from f. Forgiveness is possible. And if I can forgive someone, I can most certainly forgive myself. 

The thing for me right now is that I have to listen to me. I have to listen to what's inside. (And outside, too). I have skills that I have learned from years and years of therapy, from friends, from past relationships, from f. I am an adult. I can take care of me. I will take care of me. Depressed, Manic, Schizo, Borderline, whatever name they throw at me next. Because I am a whole.

Now for you all, whatever your diagnosis may be. I have some questions:

1. Do you have identity issues with the medications? (I.E. not knowing who you are or who you could be?)
2. How do you cope with an illness diagnosis? (Note: I am having to relearn everything.)

Those are my two big concerns/questions. I have more. But I will just see what happens.

Thank you so much for reading. I applaud all of you for just coming to this site. Thanks thanks and more thanks.


  1. For me, the diagnosis means I can work towards fixing a particular thing. I have a label associated with my misbehaviour and my powerlessness over my own emotional trajectories, that comes with concrete suggestions that may help to empower me.

    It means someone somewhere has ideas of what might make my life easier.

    And now that I am on medication, it means that all of a sudden I can control myself in a way I can not remember ever having had the power to do. I can choose not to dissolve in tears. I can choose not to lose control.

    1. It also means that S has a framework for dealing with my issues. Once upon a time, she would be devastated any time I was being ill; dragged along in my mood swings. Then she'd be cold. Isolate herself to maintain her own sense of identity. And now, she has realized, viscerally, that this is not me as much as it is my brain chemistry.

      Which somehow makes it easier for her to deal with. It makes it into a concrete thing to be managed rather than a persistent personality flaw that just won't leave her alone.

    2. Thanks for the comments, michiexile. If you don't mind me asking, how long have you been on medication for? How long have you had your diagnosis?

      For me, I was so young when I was diagnosed. Twelve. Symptoms were obviously happening earlier. I remember the first doctor telling me and my f actually not to put me on medications. But I wanted it. I wanted something.

      This is hard to write because I do remember. The medications when prescribed to younger folks can have some worsening effects. I remember I got a lot worse before I got better. I have been on so many medications, I stopped using my medication list. I know which ones I have not been on!

      However, back to your points. I see what you mean about having S in your life and S needing a particular framework/reference. If I had a partner maybe I would be different. In fact, previous relations of mine supported me lowering my medication. But, when things got ugly off or on the medications, well, hm, they left. (I am OK with this!)

      Rather than 'fixing', I definitely want to look into a mirror and cry or laugh about my strength. I also think the notion of fixing works for cs folks, too. Not so much for a literary nut like myself ;)

      Self-control was huge for me, too. That's why when I found (finally) two medications that worked well with me, I thought I was fine. Gosh, this is getting long... a new post soon.

      But thanks again for your feedback.

    3. I was diagnosed bipolar in 2002 (or so?) just a bit after meeting S, who was the one urging me to go talk to someone. I was treated for 2 years with medication and therapy.

      I was completely off treatment 2004-2013 (or so?) and picked it up again this spring with a new diagnosis of mild depression and medication to go with it.

    4. Oh okay. Interesting indeed. It's funny how diagnoses change...

  2. I was diagnosed with mild/moderate depression. it didn't really help me at the time as I felt the term 'mild/moderate' did not adequately describe how I was feeling.

    My current partner A, is amazing. I received my diagnosis about 6 months into the start of our relationship. And he just stuck by me. He's a caring, stoical type which helps. I don't think having a label helped much, but learning to accept I'm just made this way (i.e. have a predisposition to feeling low), did. My partner accepted this, much more quickly than I did.

    Even now, I struggle with accepting it. I don't know how much I can do without getting overly stressed/tired (my triggers for that spiral downwards). If I don't take on enough, then I get morose, and feel useless and pointless (other triggers).

    I was prescribed fluoxetine for a while, then sertraline when fluoxetine seemed to make me feel worse. I have to say I came off them pretty abruptly too. (My mum was willing me to be off them, and eventually I obliged). I wouldn't recommend this though. To be honest, I'm not sure meds helped me much. I'm not anti-meds and they do help a lot of people but I didn't really see any improvement in me when I was on them.

    1. Hi Chantal. Thanks for the comment. I also take on a lot and feel melancholy if I don't quite make the bar I have set.

      I feel good about being unpartnered through this new diagnosis. I just feel a tremendous loss as I will be moving away in August, away from family and friends. And that some of my friends are leaving me now in different ways. Hm. I value friendship most I'd say. Especially given my history, I don't think it would be good to be in any kind of relationship with another person. I need to focus on me right now.

      I am reading a resource right now that says to make a list of relaxing things when triggered and to have all the numbers in place of resourceful people. Since this break (up) and outwards, I am worried I won't have anything in place come August. I am trying to balance being in the moment with being practical about my academic future.

  3. I think part of my struggle through my PhD was due to a perceived lack of support. I had just transferred from one uni to another, and felt relatively new. But as I was seen as a home student, I wasn't given as much support as the international students starting up. At the time I couldn't really turn to my family either, even if they wanted to support me.

    In hindsight, it was probably very important to start making connections to the people around me, and to ask for help as and when I needed it (rather than wait until crisis point).

    When the depression did hit, no-one in my department really cared (or asked) how I was doing, other than from the point of view of how the PhD was going. My supervisor was the exception, but even he could only offer limited support.

    I think have a resource list is a good idea, to preempt some of the difficulties you might face. Maybe a list of friends and family phone numbers who you know you can turn to in an emergency, might help. And let them know too, that they may be called upon, and if that's okay with them in advance. I'm sure you know all this anyway though :).

    Lots of luck in your forthcoming adventures, and try to enjoy them as much as possible. It doesn't necessarily have to be a bad transition :)

  4. Chantal, I see what you're saying.. perception is interesting, isn't it? I haven't really perceived "lack of support". Rather, I try so hard to be perfect in each and every movement in my studies and in life, and then I get to crisis point even before I know what's going on. Like a panic attack. It happens so suddenly, without warnings to me. But in retrospect, I can see the flags or signs.

    It's also that I know people can support me, but being this rugged individual that I am, I don't want it at times. I am so in the moment of being completely destructive or productive that I just get carried away. And then folks really have to care for me, which makes things difficult for me. I push away, pull closer, push away again. Which makes me think of the text 'I hate you, don't leave me.'

    Anyhow, I do have my documentation (audio records, notes etc) to keep me remembering and to soothe me in times of crisis. I also have you all. I think about this blog a lot, actually...

    I have to be completely honest though: I trust so few people that it's hard to ask for help as needed. In crisis, I reach to anyone who will answer. I am working on this though. Thanks for your input.

    1. Hi Duuras, just wanted to say I relate to a lot of what you said here, the perfectionism, trusting only a few people, wanting to be independent...

      It mirrors a lot of my own thoughts, but that mindset hasn't always helped me, so that's why I suggested asking people for help, before it's crisis point.

      But I can also appreciate how crisis point can creep up on you without realising it.


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