Sure of What You Know

Today I feel as if I am taking my first good, deep breath in nearly two weeks.

I’ve been reading a book (Why Am I Still Depressed by Jim Phelps) about Bipolar ii Disorder and learned that, if you pay careful attention, you can tell when your mood is about to shift. The author says that many bipolar ii individuals have a period of anxiety before their mood swing. It was about two weeks ago when I read that passage and not long after, a couple of days maybe, I noticed I was feeling notably anxious. Not that it’s unusual for me to feel anxious but, with the ideas of the book in mind, I thought I’d pay a little attention and see what happened next. Sure enough, a couple of days later, the same day Jason was due to leave for New York for work, I woke up in a profound state of sadness. The timing couldn’t have been worse. I was about to spend the week playing the role of working single mom and all I wanted to do was crawl in bed and hide.

Maybe coincidentally, or maybe as a result of the departure of my husband, this drop was a fast and hard one. Sadness gave over to rage, rage spiraled quickly into despair. Jason came home earlier than intended but, instead of retreating, the mood only took a stronger hold. Interactions were stiff and forced or overly emotional and fretted over later. I came closer than I have in the last 2.5 years to giving in and having a drink. For a couple of days I was genuinely worried for myself, the future of my daughter and my marriage; I was genuinely concerned about my chances at surviving with my life, nevermind my sobriety. It was incredibly difficult.

Then, two days ago, feeling an acute anxiety again, I took note and wondered if things might be finally shifting. Yesterday, Jason, who had left for work in the morning, called me to tell me that he was going to be ending the New York portion of his work and coming home. This morning I woke up and feel…as if I am able to take my first good, deep breath in nearly two weeks. I have caught up on laundry and the mess of the kitchen, and tackled a few extra things, playing with my daughter throughout. My brain is working again easily. Not too much yet; the thoughts aren’t yet going too fast to tolerate or to keep up with, I am not filled with a boundless energy, I haven’t stopped eating entirely. So far things are good. Things feel pretty normal, they feel great in fact. I feel what I most like to call my normal.

I scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist on Monday. I always told myself I wouldn’t medicate my brain for what I perceived to be a personality trait and not a disease. I also believed that it would never worsen but determined that if it did, I would finally go and see somebody.

I don’t know if it was the contributing factor of being alone during this spell or if the stress and continued upheaval of the last few months, shuttling back and forth in apartments in New York, left me particularly vulnerable. I don’t know if the next one will be as bad. I don’t know if my disease is getting worse. What I do know is that not knowing the answers to those questions means I am out of my depth and need to see someone who does know.

The book has also taught me that people who are on the bipolar spectrum, which I’m only begrudingly admitting that I might be, should not take antidepressants like Zoloft (Sertraline), because it can sometimes make the underlying disorder worse.

So, it’s off to the psychiatrist I go to get some answers. The plan, my plan that is, is to wean off of the Zoloft because it’s time. It’s been over a year now and clearly it’s not working anymore. Then I’d like to stay at my baseline for awhile and see what my brain does. I mean, that’s my idea, who knows what this guy with the degree will say. I have a feeling I’m going to be a tough sell.

You might wonder why I share all this with you. Why I put all this deeply personal and potentially harmful information out there. I’d like to think that it’s because I want to reach out to the people like me and let them know they’re not alone. I’d like to inspire people to know that all the crap we live through is actually able to be lived through. I want people to look past labels and histories and the boxes of society to the actual people underneath it all; to judge less; to love more. All of those things are true, but mostly, what it comes to is this: If I am sure of what you know, I can worry less about what you think.

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