Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The lottery. Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010.

“When she was good, she was very, very good…” – Children’s nursery rhyme

Damn it all. Why did I have to win the lottery?

The National Institute of Mental Health says 4.4 people have “some form” of bipolar disorder. That’s actually a pretty high estimate; other researchers put the percentage at between 1 and 2.

So along with blonde hair and gray eyes, I managed to win a set of genes for an illness that less than five people out of 100 will get.

But that’s not all. It appears that my bipolar does not fit neatly into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Oh, the DSM describes my depression pretty well, but they get the mania part wrong. Inflated self-esteem and grandiosity? Nope. Decreased “need” for sleep? Well, I had god-awful insomnia for months, surviving on a few hours of sleep a night, but it wasn’t by choice.

“Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments)?” That’s the one that really gets me. That’s the one that makes so many bipolars go off their medication. They actually miss the highs, they say. They feel “creative.” They do their best work on their high. Mood stabilizers make them feel normal – and, therefore, boring. Life is just so much more colorful on a manic high, I’ve heard.

Well, I’m here to tell you that apparently, I’m missing out. Because I’ve never experienced the “fun” part of a manic high. For me, “manic” was “panic.” It was extreme anxiety that lasted three months, during which my doctor was not available and I did not have access to the proper meds. It was constant terror and confusion. It was inability to eat, sleep, or even keep up my physical appearance.

Colors were too bright, sounds too loud, the steps involved in taking a shower too overwhelming. Dialing a phone was difficult. Doing my job took Herculean effort. Driving a car was downright dangerous; I couldn’t judge distances or stay in my lane. Sleep was only possible in a completely silent, dark room; the slightest noise from another part of the house sent me through the roof like the boom of a nuclear bomb.

It was complete hell, and I don’t want to go there ever again. Not for a single day. Not for an hour.

What percentage of people with bipolar have “manias” like mine? I don’t know, but I haven’t found any examples online, which leads me to believe I’m in the minority yet again. Why can’t I have this kind of luck with the LOTTO?

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