who am I?

The dictionary explains that the difference between Bipolar I and Bipolar II is the severity of the manic or depressive episodes for a person. Living with Bipolar I is so damn aggravating- living with any form of mental illness is aggravating, but Bipolar disorder, for me, is very aggravating. I am preparing for my appointment with my psychiatrist tomorrow. Now that I’m so much more in tune with my mental health, I try to make note of any odd or uncomfortable behavior that consumes me on a daily basis. I want her to know everything about me. I want her to know what’s going on in my brain when something seems slightly off. With Bipolar disorder, you will either be extremely depressed or extremely manic. There is no in between. Most of my days are consumed with manic behavior vs. depression. You see, manic doesn’t mean “crazy”. Usually, when you hear that someone is manic, you immediately think that that person is “crazy”. Mania is an obsessive desire or an over excitement to do something, or overactivity. Imagine my mind on my “good days” or on my days opposite of depression. My mind is CONSTANTLY racing. Thoughts about everything cross my mind. I feel a deep urge to conquer the world and I deal with it in so many manic ways, such as house cleaning.

As I’m not in a depressed state right now, my mania and anxiety have kicked in. I’ve always been extremely talkative. More so, during my late husband’s battle with cancer. I’ve become much more outspoken since Kyle died. I’m not afraid to tell my story. If you will listen, I will tell you. Hell, my life since Kyle died has been an open book. What is there to hide? Telling my story is very healing for me. But, this past week, I’ve noticed that I’ve been too talkative. I’ve been too “get-up-and-go”. My mind has been constantly racing. Not only has my mind been racing, but so has my body. I feel very jittery at times and my hands shake. The lack of appetite is nice, but damn, I just want to WANT to eat something. Besides the bags of lollipops that I munch on all night, if I can eat as much as a banana in a day, I’m doing good. An idol mind is very hard for a person with mental health issues. I have to be doing something. I bet all of you who suffer with any mental illness are either nail biters or cheek chewers- I bet!! How I haven’t gotten a hole in my cheek by now is beyond me. Not only does cheek chewing keep me occupied, but so does twirling my hair, picking at everything, and smoking cigarettes. I said before that I’m NOT a smoker, but damn, a good cigarette to finally make me park my ass outside in the sunshine for 10 minutes and take a moment for myself. It’s the only time I sit- either to smoke or to write. Boredom does not sit well with Bipolar I in the manic state. My main form of manic behavior is constantly cleaning or organizing.

Manic behavior for me is good. It’s much better than the opposite state- depression. Over my years with mental illness, manic behavior has become my norm. What’s so aggravating about mental illness, though, is the medicine. You have to take one pill to calm the depression and you have to take one pill to get you up and motivated. These pills have side effects that keep you confused as to whether or not you’re going through a more severe high or low or if it’s just side effects of the medication or the dosage amount. There’s no blood test to tell you what your brain is doing. With mental illness, it’s a constant battle with medication balance and changes. As I feel much better in a manic state than I do in a depressed state, it’s still so damn aggravating to be jittery with shaking hands and a racing mind and heart, “conquer all” or feel like you’re on speed. Who am I? I just want to know what “normal” me feels like. I wish like hell that my antidepressant was a cure all if I just take it correctly. Sadly, it’s not. If we’re not fighting the mental illness, we’re fighting to balance our medicine, or we’re fighting the hellacious side effects of the drugs. If you’re dealing with figuring out who “you really are”, or if you know someone suffering with Bipolar Disorder and they’re trying to find their place, please give yourself or them some grace. Please be patient with them. Their high is better than their low, but even at their high, they still may not know who they really are. It’s certainly a process.

Besides finding out the results of my genetic testing that I did via cheek swab when I see my psychiatrist tomorrow, I’m going with goals. I’m going with my issues that I’ve noticed in myself since I’ve seen her last. First of all, I want to feel as normal as possible. And if this extra high manic behavior is my true “normal” then I’ll take it, but I just want balance. I want to feel emotion. I want to be hungry. I don’t want to be manic or depressed. I want my medication concoction to get me as normal as possible. I want to do other things besides manically cleaning my house, like exercising. My manic behavior makes it very hard for me to not occupy the racing thoughts that I have in my head- like the need to manically clean out closets, scrub toilets, or organize the attic by season. I want so badly to feel normal mentally and physically. I long for the day that the unwanted, racing thoughts stop and I can just enjoy my life- being normal. I will not give up on the goal of bettering myself. I will fight the side effects of Bipolar disorder until I feel normal. I want to know who I am.

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