Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fuck bipolar. Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010.

"Manic depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors, destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will to live." –Kay Redfield Jamison, author of “An Unquiet Mind”

Yesterday I sat in my doctor’s office and sobbed. I had been feeling better – not good, but better – but then I had started crashing again. I was dealing with side effects from the meds. Some changes I’d made that I’d been hopeful about hadn’t helped at all. And my life stressors were still the same. “I just want to feel normal, just for a day,” I told her, the tears running down my cheeks. “I’m so tired of feeling this way all the time.”

Three years ago I had lunch with a friend, Don, whose wife Sarah is severely bipolar. Sarah was in and out of the psych ward a couple of times a month. She alternated between being suicidal and being violent toward her husband and daughter.

My symptoms had never manifested in that way, but listening to him, I was so thankful. I’d been on the same medication combination for several years, and in general, life was smooth. I had recently requested that my doctor remove “bipolar” from my diagnosis. I was certain I had been misdiagnosed years before.

After all, I was only 16 when a doctor who barely knew me labeled me “manic-depressive.” I had felt pretty darn good for a long time, so obviously, the label was wrong, and I wanted it out of my records.

But later, all hell would break loose.

Today I finished writing a story for my publication about a group of women who have survived breast cancer. Every one of them fought for life, through disfiguring surgery and sickening chemotherapy. Each one of them looked forward to a day beyond their illness. They operated on hope that one day, they would feel better. And every one of them was grateful to be alive. They are proud to be labeled “survivors.”

Depression is a different kind of illness. Depression feels like “always.” Depression hides hope. Depression tells the victim that the only way to relief is death. Whereas people with potentially terminal illnesses do everything they can to survive, people with clinical depression feel too tired and discouraged to fight.

Fuck that.

I’ve had times in my life when I felt better. I’ve hit bottom, but I know there is a “better” out there, because I’ve experienced it. I want to be able to look back and say, “There was a time when I didn’t think I’d make it, but I did. And I’m glad.”

I want to wear the label of “survivor.”

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