During my stay in the crisis stabilization unit, I went through several sessions of group therapy, which was helpful, but everyone there acknowledged that medication is the key for me. I’m a pretty sound person…..but I have a chemical imbalance. Medication is what I needed most, and the doctor prescribed Prozac.
I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2001, even though I had been in the mental health clinic in the late Eighties seeking help. I don’t really know what my diagnosis was back then. It doesn’t matter all that much. The diagnosis is now correct. Water under the bridge. Suffice it to say that in 10 years I have been on a number of medications, including Prozac. Considering what my current symptoms are, the doctor prescribed the right medication, in my opinion. In a few weeks, I should be functioning as well as I can and probably able to work at the capacity I was working before my episode, if not more so.
Answers to some questions:
How come you seem fine sometimes and not fine other times?
Two reasons. First, it is the nature of the illness. I am having rapid cycling mood swings throughout the day from severe depression to elation, or sometimes depression with irritability and sometimes elation that can very quickly change to my being a real pain in the proverbial arse. While at the crisis stabilization unit, I was sometimes obviously very depressed on the outside when I was also very depressed on the inside, sometimes very obviously happy on the outside but horribly depressed on the inside, sometimes very animated on the outside but horribly depressed on the inside and sometimes very calm on the outside but having high anxiety on the inside, etc. I don’ t believe I ever sound like I really feel because I am not behaving consistent with the way I feel. If I did, I would have no friends left at all. It is a constant struggle. I don’t think I am ever functioning at quite the level that some people think I am functioning because I am almost always “faking sanity” while inside I am imploding/exploding. It’s easy to make a smiley face with a keyboard on a computer when you’re feeling suicidal. The inability to see my level of function is exacerbated by the fact that you can’t “see” me if you are just reading my blog, but consider that if even the therapists at the crisis stabilization unit had to ask me how things were going with me and take my vital signs several times a day, how on earth can you tell? The fact is that you can’t. You can’t possibly judge how I am feeling or my level of function by reading my blog. All you can know is that I am not stupid, I suppose, but if you think Bipolar Disorder makes one stupid, then you don’t know what Bipolar Disorder is. To the contrary, more often than not, the disorder comes with enhanced intelligence.
What are your symptoms like?
They are as I described above. I have no control over my emotions whatsoever. Sometimes people say things to me that trigger a swing one way or the other. I have no control over that, either. The best I can do is try to remain calm no matter if I am depressed or having anxiety or irritability. It is a very heavy load to bear. I cannot be who you expect me to be. I have enough to concern myself with trying to be who God wants me to be. I cannot be torn between you and God. I have to choose God. Pleasing Him is enough and pleasing Him means that I have to try to behave towards others in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Of course, that means I have to be charitable to you, but “you” can’t be my focus. God has to be my focus. That alone is sometimes quite impossible because of delusion and not being at all able to be “me”….let alone the “real me” that God is calling me to be. God is all. All the time. And I fail. Often. I apologize if my failings hurt your feelings.
What do your kids think about all of this?
My kids know Christ is King. They are sad that their mom suffers, and they are very good about knowing how to make me feel better, and they do that for me. I am “MOM” to them. I have always been this way, as long as they have known me. They know I’m not like other moms, and they would love for me not to have to suffer, but they know also that I am right with God, that Jesus is the center of my life and that my sufferings (and theirs) are redemptive, and in this they are happy and find peace. The sicker I am, the more strong and helpful they are toward me and each other.
What does your priest think about this?
Father Brian is very understanding and very supportive. He came to visit me in the crisis unit, talked with me and gave me Anointing of the Sick. He knows who I am more than most others do. He knows me better than even most people in my family do. He is very gentle with me, and supportive. At the same time, I think I have taught him some things about dealing with mental illness as a faithful Catholic and I think he appreciates that. He knows that I was made to be a Passionist and he strengthens me often by reminding me of Passionist spirituality. Frequent reminders, especially from your own priest, are most helpful.
I hope that this helps to answer some of the questions I have been receiving. God bless you, and thank you for your prayers.