Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Shotgun Shine: The Bipolar Blog


I prefer myself a little wild and on the predictable side but I've come to see with medication that others may prefer the quieter side. It's a huuuuge soul searching thing to decide to become medicated or not because acquiescing to the doctors and others is very much about deciding to let others tell you how you should be. But.

But it makes life a little more manageable. If that's what you want. Not sure I do, on some days. The meds will take some of your creativity. If someone tells you differently slap them. My psychiatrist is an angel and it was only because she believed in me that I tried it at all. She's small and gentle and Asian and brilliant.

"The disease is not your intelligent," she told me, mixing up the English words a little here and there.

In the beginning it's very tough. I can't tell you how difficult. For four months I was day and night in the clouds. But not in that sublime, high, ecstatic way that I am in my manias. You get those natural highs when you're in your manias and no drugs are necessary. I wouldn't really know because I never experimented but I've read enough to think that the stimulants would give you the best approximation of a manic episode. Those up-for-days power-through-anything high-and happy bursts. You can probably take coke or meth and get something like that but I can't imagine it would be as fun.

But here we are again at the BUT. The problem was that I'd be up for days at a time. Days. I could write and talk and move and do anything I needed to do really. And that made me a very successful person. Like many people with bipolar disorder I was good at what I did. I was successful and happy with myself.

It's the depressions. That crash you get off the manias. I'd complete all my work with masterful precision and then retire to bed for a week or more. It gets hard to hide that. You call into work a lot but you do such a good job when you're there that everyone allows the lapses. You make excuses that aren't excuses. Because when you can't get out the black moods there's little else to do but stay in your bed, in the suicidal darkness, in the silence,  It becomes like a dirty little secret that only those closest to you know about.

And then there are the rages. I'm as mild and even when I'm well that you'd never know I had a temper until...until you know. But they  were bizarre outbursts only a few knew about.

So that's why I decided to sacrifice my highs. It was a hard decision. I'm not as creative as I was and if you don't believe me all you have to do is look at how often I've updated in this past year. I've maybe written three poems in the past year. I hope there will be more but just now the well is empty. Even writing this the fountain isn't flowing with its customary gush, I'm working harder for less product. It makes me wonder if the decision I've made is a deal with the devil. It's why you can't allow yourself to be pressured into anything if you are bipolar. You have to know yourself and know how the compromise will cost you.

I'm glad I powered through the muddy minded side effects of the anti-psychotics but I'm grieving as well. My psychiatrist gently pushed me through the fogginess and the flatness. You find other ways of getting those highs. For me it's music, I play my Spotify loud and often. You have to avoid the impulse to get high with artificial drugs and it's a very tempting prospect. The downside is that drugs are way more uncontrollable than even the manias. And it'll fuck with your medication, if you decide to go that route. Drugs and bipolar disorder and unholy, treacherous frenemies.

The upside of medication in the 20th century is that you no longer have to worry about gaining twenty pounds in order to stay sane. The old school drugs came with nasty consequences including the fuzzy thinking. Truthfully the fuzzy thinking, that slow drudging sensation is something you learn to contend with.

But after months and months if you don't cheat, if you take the meds everyday without fail, if you train yourself to new habits, then you begin to get better. Bipolar disorder plays second fiddle to schizophrenia and in that I'm grateful but I can't say my experience has been all bad; I always say the opposite in fact.

But I'm healing and learning so much about myself. I'm getting better. I still feel conflicted about the medication and folding to patriarchal norms, but it may be that the meds saved my life. I'm coming to terms. If I can help anyone reading this then I've done one thing to help myself.

I'll share more as I learn to navigate this experience.

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