From 2001 until 2013, I experienced rapid cycling bipolar disorder. It was total bullshit. Every month my hormones would perform their dance and I would start out irritable and end up depressed by the time my period started. Then I would get two “good” weeks to recover. Even the good weeks were shitty because my self-esteem had taken a real beating through all of the depressions I’d been through. But all that came to a screeching halt in May of 2013.
I was in Mayo Clinic’s Mood Disorder Unit and the psychiatrist assigned to me gave me a choice; take Zyprexa and Prozac with a proven track record for knocking out Bipolar Depression but also known for weight gain or take Latuda with less research backing it up but also less weight gain. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about weight gain at this point and I chose Zyprexa. After just two days, I could tell a difference. My mood lifted, my thinking became clearer and I felt….happy. I remember talking excitedly with Jesse on the phone and we were both over the moon that Zyprexa was working. I kept studying cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and continued to feel stronger every day.
When it was time to go home, I felt like I had won the battle of a lifetime. But it was not without it’s victims. Jesse, my rock, was experiencing depression. He had been through so much with me, not just my most recent trip to Mayo, but the ten years of crap that followed my son’s birth. He was mentally worn down. And, in a strange reversal of roles, I comforted him through his depression.
What does remission feel like? Um, awesome 🙂 It feels light. It’s the ability to think quietly with no nattering negative voice to disrupt the peace. It’s the return of self-esteem and liking myself. It’s being able to handle bumps in the road. At 46, I feel like this is the best I’ve ever been. I still can’t hold down a full-time job, but they may come in time too. And I fight hard in recovery. I see my psychiatrist at least once a month, take seven psychiatric medications, go to group therapy weekly and practice CBT. I try to get together with a friend at least once a week.
One thing that didn’t change is my dislike of crowds and loud places. My brain goes haywire in a noisy situation and I can’t concentrate. I solve this by limiting my exposure to these types of experiences. I am also still a worrier, but I’ve found ways to cope with that too. When I’m stressing over something, I ask myself “What’s the worse that can happen?” Then I work that scenario over in my mind. Usually the worse thing I can imagine occurring isn’t that bad. I also still fight agoraphobia. And, of course, there’s the negative thoughts that require a beating.
One of the biggest changes is that in 2015 I started a business as a wedding officiant the person who marries couples). So far, I have married 35 couples and gotten great reviews. Lately, I’ve been getting very anxious before weddings, so that’s something I need to work on. It usually helps me to remember why I’m marrying people in the first place; because I believe in marriage and want to pass that joy along to other people. The other big change is in my self-esteem. I literally loathed myself before my recovery. I had a constant stream of negative self-talk in my head. Now I am gentle with myself and love who I am (most of the time). Self-esteem helps so much in daily life. It’s given me strength and courage to do things I didn’t think I could do.
Have you experienced a recovery from your symptoms? I’d love to hear about it in the comment box below.
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