I find that my bipolar is the disorder I most frequently ignore. I think this is because it is the one that I feel the least in control of. I’m recognizing it more now, though. When I wake up in the morning, and the first thought in my head is that I want to die, I recognize that it is my depressive cycle, and wake my husband up to hold me and take away all of my sharp things. When I haven’t slept but I still feel boundless energy and I want to do everything all at once, that’s my manic cycle, and I warn people that I am not going to be very emotionally available for the next week or so. Even though I am recognizing it, and taking steps to reduce the effect it has on my life, I still am not in control of the cycling, and it still wreaks havoc on me.
I hated taking my medication. I was on Lamictal/Lamotrigine, and it sucked. It helped balance my moods out, sure, but if I forgot to take it one morning, the next day or two I would be nauseous and dizzy. As an added bonus it has a small possibility of causing a deadly rash, and my OCD latched on to that fact so I obsessed over it constantly. Then there’s the cost. I worry about money a lot, so on the list of priority purchases, something that makes me sick and could kill me ranks pretty low. Also, even though I hate to admit it, even to myself, I like the manic cycle, and I miss it when I’m leveled out. The depression stays and lessens a bit, but the mania mostly disappears, and I hate loosing that energy. Everything is so slowed down, and dimmer, and less full of excitement when I’m medicated.
I know it’s irrational, but a part of me wishes I could be manic all the time. I sleep less, I eat less, I clean more, and I’m not sad, or sorry, or suicidal, well mostly. I do get suicidal when someone gets in my way, there’s a dent in my refrigerator where I tried to cave my head in because my husband wouldn’t let me leave the kitchen because he needed to talk to me. When I am manic I get frustrated easily, and often with destructive consequences. I throw things a lot, and in the past I’ve even physically hurt the people I care about. I’ve gotten it under control now, and I know how to remove myself from the situation so that I don’t feel backed into a corner, but I still come right up to the edge sometimes, and it scares me.
I got my drivers license taken away years ago, because I disclosed my suicidal thoughts on the questionnaire, and they told me I’d need a doctor’s note to get it back. That was about eleven years ago. I couldn’t afford to see a doctor, so I just let it slide, and I’ll admit, I drove with out a license a lot at first, but then I just sort of fell out of the habit, and eventually stopped driving all together. I’ve been terrified to find out how to get my lisence back, due to my social phobia, but this year was supposed to be the year that I finally sucked it up and went through with it. As it looked more and more like I would be driving again I thought about what kind of driver I used to be. I was reckless. I would top out the speedometer in my parents suburban on my way to school, and if anyone cut me off I would slide over into the next lane and flip them off and then pull in front of them and tap my breaks, or slow down to a crawl. I don’t know how I have a spotless record for driving. I really shouldn’t. Then there were the times when I was suicidal while driving and daydreamed about just turning the wheel ever so slightly to move into the oncoming traffic. The only reason I never did was that I couldn’t justify the possible loss of life other than mine. I thought that knowing my luck I’d survive and have to continue suffering, and someone else who didn’t deserve it could end up dead. I decided that I cannot in good conscious ask them to give me back my license. I am a threat to myself and others behind the wheel.
The depression part of my bipolar is really hard. At least once a month, usually more, it comes around to kick me in the teeth. I don’t always want to kill myself, but I spend a lot of time lying in bed wishing I were dead so I wouldn’t have to feel anything anymore. On those days I find myself feeling passively suicidal, thinking that if the house caught fire I would just stay put and let myself burn, or if something like a meteor or a bus was bearing down on me I wouldn’t move out of the way. I lay in bed for hours just staring at the wall or the ceiling, thinking about all of my flaws and how pointless it is to try and change them. Sometimes I don’t even think, I just lay in bed like a vegetable until I fall asleep.
I sleep a lot when I’m on my depressed cycle, but it never gives me any energy. I wake up after ten to twelve hours of sleep, and I feel utterly exhausted. I take multiple naps throughout the day, and they make me even more tired than I was before. I know that exercise could help, but my social anxiety keeps me locked up in my room. The only thing that helps is TV and reading and writing, but I still feel worthless when doing these things because I feel shame for trying to enjoy myself when I should be doing something proactive. I feel the most shame when I am at my lowest point of my depressed cycle. I don’t think my goals are worthy, because they are selfish. I don’t ask for help, because I think I am just trying to manipulate people into solving my problems for me. I don’t deserve to live because I am of no use to society. I even shame myself for wanting to die and not being brave enough to do it. When I’ve actually tried and failed I shame myself for not getting it right.
I have an answer to all of the cookie cutter sayings. “Suicide is the coward’s way out.” I am a coward. “Suicide is not the answer.” Then what is? Because life is a question only death can answer, and I don’t want to wait for happenstance to give it to me. “God has a plan for you.” What if his plan is for me to inspire someone to come up with a better therapy or drug, and the only way I can fulfill His plan is to kill myself?
On my good days, the days when I feel somewhere in between manic and depressed, I know that both ways of thinking are wrong. But they are also both me. I read someone’s article, or maybe it was an advertisement, I’m not sure, but she wrote about her bipolar and her experience with lithium. She said she hated it at first, but after ten years she had a normal life, with five kids and a loving husband and a job. It made me very sad to think about myself in her place. Firstly because ten years is a long time, and I have already wasted so much of my life, but also because I don’t want “normal.” The thought of spending the rest of my life in a dead end job selling fat to fat people, wealth to the wealthy, and knowledge to the educated fills me with dread. That sounds boring, and frankly not worth living for. I feel guilty for even thinking like that, because it is so ungracious, but there it is. I want to be exceptional. I want to lead an exciting life. If the price I have to pay for being happy, instead of merely satisfied, is also being sad, then fine, I will do it. What other choice do I have?
So I’m off my meds, and I’m not working on getting better. I am just coping. I don’t recommend my way, I am not happy with it and at some point in the future, when money is no longer an issue, I intend to work with a therapist to get the results that I want, without loosing what I like about myself. I am not a therapist, and I have no training in the fields of psychology or medicine. I’m only an expert on myself, and how I feel. It is very important to consult with a licensed therapist or physician before making any decisions about getting on or going off of your medication. Also please, if you are thinking about hurting yourself or someone else, talk to someone and get help.