I have been officially bipolar since 1978, when I was correctly diagnosed after three years of hell. First they got me settled down with lithium and stellazine, and I don't know what else; then someone confirmed the diagnosis; you are bipolar when your condition stabilizes on lithium. I was so relieved that I immediately accepted the diagnosis. From there on I let psychiatrists push psychotropics on me to such a degree that I lived like a sane person, got jobs, got into a good marriage, went to grad school and got a PhD, and realized that being a college professor was not a dream, but a nightmare. My life felt tinted gray, but they weren't the worst years of my life.
But I digress. That's one feature of hypermania.
Still, after all these years I don't think I quite realized what it meant to be stuck with bipolar. This truth has been forcing its way in since that meeting last Tuesday in which the shrink he said he couldn't do a thing for me. At the moment, I am sleeping okay. The moodswings are another story. The regular cycling of up/down days that Seroquel had damped has returned.
Meanwhile, life goes on. On the heels of Tom's last fall, we are in the process of figuring out when and how to move to the retirement home we like. At first we thought I would go there into a one-bedroom, where I might have a stress-free life while Tom stayed in the house and got some things done (and didn't fall down again). But our financial counselor nixed that - just too expensive month by month. By that time, though, I had chosen the colors for my beautiful little one bedroom. (They paint for you.) And just last week I got to see them on the walls. Here is the living room -
Above is a view of the living room from the bedroom. Fortunately, I was inspired to choose the bedroom colors by a serene mountain scene. That's a kind of French blue, not too vibrant, and the window wall is the faintest blush pink. Actually, this room is a little bright too, in daylight, but feels overall serene and pretty.
The bathroom turned out perfect though. The aqua is well-represented in the photo to the right. I might go for that in the next place.
Here's my point: When the admissions officer opened the door to that warm, really warm coral and yellow, I thought, "You can tell these colors were ordered by a manic." It was one of those small experiences that keep coming along; some people call that gradual enlightenment.
As realizations do, that truth has been soaking in. When I feel real good, confident, joyful, that can be hypermania. It can lead to poor decisions. I have been revisiting memories of extravagant purchases, of spontaneous travel. And from the depressed side I remember raising my voice at someone who was just trying to help, and saying too much in another situation. These things are called "inappropriate behavior" in the psych wards.
I really am bipolar.
I really am stuck with this self and its chemical swings. Whether bipolar is a disorder or a chronic illness it's hard to live with. And I think it's true, there's no mood-stabilizer I can take. So I need to take seriously the problem of life style, how to live well enough on up days and down days. Getting through hypermania has challenges, but is somehow more manageable than depression. And a depression is probably coming tomorrow. We'll see. Sun-faced Buddha, moon-faced Buddha.