I’m feeling a little bummed. A little unmotivated… It might be partially because my period is supposed to start tomorrow. It may be my kids being sick the past couple of days… or the random interactions or annoyances of the past few weeks that build up and push down on my mood. I dunno…. Or it may be the cloud hanging over me as I wait to even get an appointment set with, let alone get a diagnosis from, the psychologist.
I can’t say it was a surprise to hear the words “might be bipolar” come out of my doctor’s mouth, however, well… Let me give you some of the history surrounding this. I don’t think I’ve explained it all before…
When I was 15, I was diagnosed – at the very least – as depressed. My mother told me at the time I was diagnosed as “Manic Depressive” which is what Bipolar used to be called. I looked it up, educated myself a bit on the condition I was told I had, and believed my mother. I was taking antidepressants and going to therapy so I figured I was doing what I was supposed to do to manage a bipolar disorder.
A year or so later, maybe two, I referred to myself as bipolar when talking to someone. My mom overheard and disputed this, telling me that I wasn’t, in fact, bipolar.
I was like… “But you told me I was Manic Depressive… That’s the. same. thing.”
She shook her head and said, “No. You’re not bipolar, only severely depressed.”
I shrugged my shoulders, I sighed. There’s no point in arguing with someone like my mom who will vehemently deny any memory of a conversation that is so clear in your own head. I guessed I must not actually be bipolar. I only knew of my diagnosis what I was told.
Eventually, I put the questions out of my mind and just stuck with the narrative that I get depressed sometimes.
Last year, I found out that another family member was diagnosed bipolar as an adult and it made me start wondering again about my own mental health. Well, that fact and the fact that one of my really good friends told me that for a several month period I “didn’t sound like” myself. She felt I was acting oddly, and she hadn’t wanted to say anything because she didn’t want to alienate me from her… So she didn’t bring it up until I basically realized I had been in a much worse place than I had realized in the moment and had come out of it – and become more like “me.”
Apologies to the curious, but I’m not prepared to explain that period of my life to outsiders.
Erica’s commentary, plus the realization that one family member at least is bipolar (a condition that tends to be hereditary), and finding out about one sister having an anxiety disorder, and having a raw, honest, convo with another sister who explained several symptoms of her as-yet-undiagnosed mental health issues (owing to having no health insurance for much of her adult life – though she is now finally able to start dealing with it after getting married at the end of this past year.) It all got me thinking.
I asked my dad about the previous conversations with my mom and asked what he knew about my diagnosis at the time. Unfortunately, he had stayed out of it and let mom handle it all for the most part – so he didn’t know. He was agreeable to the idea that mom may have just said “manic” in the effort to be dramatic for drama’s sake. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary.
My mom mentioned last year that she found all the paperwork to do with me – medical records etc. I asked her if it included my depression stuff. She said yes. I asked her to mail it. She said she’d give it to me next time she sees me…. Which, sigh, A) who knows when that will be and B) she has since sent me multiple boxes of books… Like it wouldn’t be cheaper to send documents instead of a bunch of books I didn’t need? Again… Sigh.
Suffice it to say, after all of this I’m gonna be all sorts of annoyed if I am (again?) diagnosed as bipolar. Especially if it could have been managed appropriately over the last 20 years.
On the other hand, at least at this point it could answer a lot of questions. Just as the possible anxiety disorder diagnosis could have answered some questions…
When the doc first said bipolar this last week I thought, well, it couldn’t be, right? I was automatically thinking about stereotypical Bipolar I symptoms… Surely I haven’t been having euphoric or psychotic manic episodes?? But as I thought a little on it, I decided to research about it again. After all, it had been 20ish years since I had properly read about it.
Turns out, Bipolar II actually could fit… I’m not diagnosing myself yet. I’ll wait for a professional to test me first, but it turns out that it wouldn’t be a shocking diagnosis after all.
Turns out Bipolar II’s don’t necessarily get euphoric. They are not psychotic in their mania. Their manic episodes are called “hypomanic,” which is lesser-mania, a more depressed or subdued mania.
Hypomania is characterized by persistent disinhibition and elevation. It may involve irritation, but not as much as full-on mania. Classic behaviors of people experiencing hypomania are unusual behavior and actions, a noticeable decrease in sleep, an increase in energy, and a distinctly peculiar increase in talkativeness/confidence, which is often exhibited with a flurry of creativeness.
Other symptoms of hypomania may include feelings of hypersexuality, grandiosity, and distractibility. While hypomanic behavior often generates productivity and excitement, it can also be an issue if the patient engages in risky or inadvisable behaviors, and/or the symptoms conflict with everyday life.
Now, not all of that describes me. I don’t believe I have ever had feelings of grandiosity… But hey, the unusual behavior and actions? Well, Erica basically pointed that out straight to my face last year… Periods that include a flurry of creativeness; I can’t deny that, especially when I get very involved and focused on my writing projects.
Hypersexuality… Well I can’t even deny that; I probably fall into that category as well. This can be characterized by risky or dangerous sexual behaviors/partners, could have multiple partners, seeking out prostitutes, or even having affairs. This is a symptom that can be a part of other disorders too as well apparently. Well, no… I don’t seek out prostitutes. I won’t go into the details about my particular brand of sexuality right now. But, maybe… just maybe it fits into the puzzle that is my mental health.
Yet, I also still can’t rule out adding an anxiety disorder to the plain old depression. We’ll see. Something’s gotta give soon.