Note: This was my first written post of the new year … but not the first one posted. I’m sure you’ll understand as you read on.
I planned on blogging a lot sooner this year. After all, I haven’t blogged since July and getting back to writing on the blog was at the top of my to-do list for 2015. But as often happens in life, my plan was slightly altered when I spent the first couple of weeks taking care of my health — mental and physical — with no time for much else.
You see, 2014 was not a good year. I gained weight, I lost weight and gained that weight back again and then some. I began an exercise regime and was in kick ass shape and then let it all fall apart … TWICE. My life ebbed and flowed, but with an extreme and intensity I had never experienced before.
Since I can remember (at least post kids anyway) I’ve alway been an “all inner” or an “all outer” (and I’m not talking about my bellybutton, that has been a little bit of both since I had twins). In my daily life — taking on a new project, a job, a new parenting technique, a writing assignment — I get overly excited and all consumed about jumping in and doing something new. I tell everyone to jump in with me. I’m exuberant and enthusiastic and man, am I productive. Then, as quickly as I jumped in, I’m over it … completely! I give up on the project. I become sad and depressed that what I was trying to accomplish wasn’t embraced by family, my readers, my friends. I become uninspired, lackadaisical, I feel like I’m a failure. It’s difficult way to live, for me and the people around me.
As if that wasn’t frustrating enough, the last six months or so, this all-in all-out personality of mine has reached extremes!
I had days where I accomplished a week or two worth of work in one day, spoke a mile a minute, had the energy of 10 teenagers and cooked, cleaned, decluttered and organized like a mom on crack. And then I’d hit rock bottom. I’d sleep 15 hours a day. I was moody, irritable and didn’t feel like interacting with anyone, and I obsessed … ABOUT EVERYTHING. My mind worked overtime and my obsessions filled my head 24-7. I couldn’t hold a conversation, but the conversation in my head never stopped. My word retrieval was mediocre at best, yet I woke up every morning or sometimes in the middle of the night with words streaming through my head. I’d still be dazed and confused from a restless night sleep, but my brain would be up and ready to go, already midway through to-do lists, and arguments with people I had a bone to pick with. It was overwhelming and tiring and depressing and frustrating and these last few months have genuinely sucked.
And then there were the panic attacks. The racing heart that came out of the blue; the shortness of breath; the tightness in the chest that never went a way and felt like a never-ending case of heartburn. But no amount of antacids could make it go away. There were tears and angry outbursts, there was a newfound love affair with my daily glass of wine or two or three, and there was the constant loneliness and isolation. I felt as if I was going crazy and there was no way out, and no one would EVER understand what I was going through.
I felt judged with every eye roll from my husband that seemed to say “oh, mom’s just having another one of her fits about the disorganized nature of our house, just giver her space.” And everyone in the house stayed clear of me, and ignored my pleas for help, even if the pleas to clean up their shit and minimize the chaos made no sense to them at all. NOTE: In defense of my husband and children these were my perceptions at the time, whether the eye rolls were happening or not, this is how I felt.
I went back to counseling. I began meditating. I started reading “The Untethered Soul.” And these things helped. But the exhaustion remained, the chaos in my head, though less, still continued to wake me up at night, and the daily naps were a necessity.
My GYN drew blood — my thyroid was fine, all my levels (whatever they were looking at) were normal, but my cholesterol was borderline. Great, I thought. She just confirmed what I’ve been feeling all along. I’m simply fat, unhealthy and unhappy. But at least my thyroid was something that could be ruled out.
Thoughts began brewing in my head, that I had been denying for quite some time. I had a feeling I knew what was wrong, but I squashed those thoughts and pushed them back inside my head. I was just “psychotherapizing” again, an old habit from a former career.
My next appointment was with a new psychiatrist — maybe I was having side effects from my depression meds and a simple tweak would make things all better. My fingers were crossed, but once again those thoughts creeped in once again. Deep inside, I knew it could be something else. I didn’t share this with anyone, I just went to the appointment with my husband by my side and waited to see what the psychiatrist would say as my husband and I shared our story(ies).
After 45 minutes or more of talking history, and medicine, and familial observations, and a few tears … we had the answer I had been dreading, but knew was a very real possibility. It made sense to my husband, my kids, my mother, my therapist and ME. It was the unspoken diagnosis that had been lingering in the back of my mind for a while, at least the past six months and probably longer. The psychiatrist was hesitant to speak or label me, for fear of the stigma around what he was about to say — my own fears, my own stigma about the disorder. I allayed his fears, by telling him it had been an unasked question of mine for a very long time. So he laid it all out there in his office, while I sat quietly and ever so still on the leather sofa with my husband.
I was Bipolar.