Stabilise this!

My first feelings when I got diagnosed as Bipolar II eight days ago, on my 35th birthday, were confusing.

On one hand, I already self-diagnosed myself a few days earlier. What I read simply made sense. I didn’t want it to make sense, but it did so anyway. All signs of hypomania were fully present, except for the spending money bit — due to the fact I knew I was going to be poor this year I managed to avoid shopping sprees. Thing is, though, I didn’t think I had hypomania. I thought I recovered from my depression.

I didn’t intend to get a new diagnose. Au contraire, I intended to hear that I was doing very well, just that perhaps I need a milder anti-depressant, or something like that. That my erratic sleep patterns could be repaired easily, and that I was going to be a success story. THAT was the plan. I did not intend to have an incurable, lifelong condition that can be more or less controlled by medication, and I was not ready to hear that what I thought was called ‘recovery’ was in fact something entirely different called ‘hypomania’. I was not ready to hear that my life is about to take a massive turn — not even sure if it is a turn for better or worse, but generally I thought I was done with turning at that point. I was going to live happily ever after. I was not going to risk losing my house because of my health.

A day later a friend took me to a hospital with some bleeding cuts on my forearm, in a state of total mental breakdown incurred by anxiety, alcohol, medical system refusing to provide any help (in fact, when I mentioned on the phone I was going to kill myself if nobody helps me, the “professional” I was talking to said it was not nice of me to say and that I shouldn’t put her under pressure) and filled with incredible pain. I spent a week high on Seroquel, my mood swings slowing down from one per five minutes to one per hour to one per day. And I survived until yesterday’s hospital appointment.

Three psychiatrists teamed to tell me I was Bipolar II, and possibly hypomanic at the moment. My anti-depressant, instead of helping, was quite literally making me crazy, largely due to sleep deprivation. I had to quit it cold turkey (which terrifies me), and replace it with valproic acid, while continuing with Seroquel. I will have a phone consult on Friday, another visit on Monday, already had my blood taken yesterday to check for thyroid hormones, but I will have it taken again coming Wednesday.

Strangely, I felt enormously relieved. I finally had a feeling something is being done. I felt strangely important, having three professionals arguing about what was the best course of action for me. And I have yet again realised how much my work means to me and how proud I am of it. I intend to get stable and work on myself; I’ve always been great at project. My new project is my health. And I will manage it as well as I can.

It pains me to hear that I can’t work shifts, which rules out bartending; and that comes once I did my first ever shift as a bartender in my favourite place in town. I have to find a structured job, 9-to-5, which pretty much rules out freelance work. I need structure. I loathe structures. But one piece of good news is that my new career path that I started on this year — a completely new direction — is still okay, and I can continue doing it as soon as I stop flying high on Seroquel every day.

My boyfriend is very supportive, loving and caring. He provided all the love I could ingest in the last week, and continues doing so. I am very lucky to have him, and I hope he can cope with my new illness — and if he can cope, then so must I. Project Bipolar is going to be a success. After all, my hypomania told me I was special — so I must be a success, right? Go on, mood stabiliser. Stabilise this, stabilise this.

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