I am trying to make sense of this all, and since I am anything but “stable”, this shit is not easy.
Yesterday I woke up with a slight downer, which, as day progressed, went all the way down to “terribly depressed”. In such state I dragged myself, somehow, to my psychiatrist, who took one look at me and decided to double the dosage of valproic acid. This might cause more side effect, but hopefully might also cause quicker stabilisation. The “down period” lasted until about 5pm, when I started, finally, speaking at more or less normal speed, smiled once or twice, and then even made dinner for myself and boyfriend. And then I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling slightly anxious, but otherwise fine.
Around 8pm I spoke on the phone for an hour to someone who has lived with bipolar for, as he says, 40 years, 15 diagnosed. It was very interesting, helpful and, well, depressing. (It didn’t trigger me though, strangely enough. Perhaps because I was already depressed earlier that day. Perhaps because he knows how to not trigger ‘newbies’. Perhaps, perhaps.) A part of the conversation had to do with how therapy for bipolars functions. In depression, which I was diagnosed with for years, therapy is about finding root causes and trying to change deep thought patterns. In bipolar, it is largely about accepting that you have a biological condition, that it is not going away and that you need to take the medication, go to sleep always at the same time and avoid alcohol and drugs no matter how well you think you feel. Which to a 35-year-old gay man in a gay capital of Europe sounds like massive fun. Not. (But I don’t want to sound whiny, I know there are worse things in the world than not being able to get high and dance all night. And I had my share of both those.)
I registered myself at the (un)employment office today as sick. They told me off for not doing so sooner. Well, every day I’d get depressed and then I’d be unable to make a phone call, then I’d get hypomanic and I’d think that the problem is gone now. First time when I had that, in 2004, it took me a year and suicide attempt to seek help. Second time, in 2011, it was just a few weeks (it helped that I couldn’t get out of bed after a 10 day holiday, which I slept through, because I felt so tired). This time it was two months until I finally gave up and admitted to myself and people around me I was not coping — mostly with the lack of sleep on a daily basis, which could only be “cured” by sleeping pills and/or large quantities of alcohol.
Right now I am enjoying the longest period of full nights of sleep I had in half a year, or so. By that I mean five. I had to help myself with a sleeping pill last night, but it worked, and I got my 7.5 hours again. It’s hard to believe my luck after months and months without a blessing as simple as regular sleep. That alone makes it very easy to cope with the idea of going to bed early for the rest of my life.