I find myself consistently questioning the diagnosis of Bipolar 2 that I readily accepted in December. I think, in part, because so many of the symptoms seem to have resolved themselves beneath the balm of pregnancy hormones. It’s fairly rare for me to find myself fighting, and eventually giving in to, the urge to sequester myself to the couch for several days in a row. It’s even less common to suddenly be battling the racing thoughts or confusion, or to find myself telling five different stories at once.
As those frantic feelings of go-go-go become a part of the past, along with the despairing funk that led to days of internet streaming marathons curled on the couch, my memory of them begins to fade. I look back and think things couldn’t have been all that bad, I accuse myself of over-dramatizing my mood swings and chasten myself to stop making excuses for defects of character and personality which are able to be overcome through hard work and willpower.
To me Bipolar 2 still feels like one of those diagnosis’ designed to sell pills – like restless leg syndrome. It’s like this clinical word to define my personality, “He’s introverted, that one’s extroverted, and she’s Bipolar.” I mean, sure, if you read the list of characteristics used to describe people with Bipolar 2, most of them fit me well. I also find that lists of Piscean characteristics describe me well. Once I read a paragraph that discussed personality traits of folks born to entertain, that list described me pretty well too. Centerstageitis? Is there a pill for that?
It’s not that I don’t believe Bipolar exists, because I do. I’ve read all kinds of accounts of Bipolar 1 individuals who have lost touch with reality through manic psychosis and then attempted suicide time and time ago due to depression. I believe it’s a serious disease that requires medication and, from what I understand, lifelong treatment.
But Bipolar 2? The “it may not be bad yet but it’s going to be” version? It just feels like a crutch for moody people. They sell it well though, “If you go untreated your Bipolar Disorder will progress until you become Bipolar 1. This is irreversible. If you continue to remain untreated you will eventually be institutionalized or will commit suicide.” It’s like the worlds greatest advertising gimmick ever: “Believe what I am telling you and take the medication I prescribe or you will slowly lose your mind and die.” There is no medical test to prove the diagnosis though. I must simply believe what I am told and act accordingly.
Man, it’s worse than religion.
The whole topic is on my mind because I have actually been having a couple of really low, low energy days. The idea of getting dressed is exhausting, the thought of food is dull, and nothing seems quite as awesome as sitting solo on the couch with my laptop. I tried today to get some work done in the baby’s room, to motivate myself to cook a meal for my partner, to maybe clean the kitchen. None of it happened. I managed to take a shower and, thanks to that, I feel mighty accomplished. I’ve been dealing with strange anxieties and fears, too. My partner isn’t really happy and is going to leave me, I’m going to get in trouble at work, I’m never going to be able to maintain the quality of my life. Just as I was really about to start feeling badly about myself and my inability to get motivated and stop whining I remembered, “Oh yeah, this happens sometimes. If I stop fighting it and just give in for a day or two it will go away again.”
But to believe that the problem is a cycle of behavior based on chemical imbalances is to believe the diagnosis. And to believe the diagnosis is to accept the treatment, which is what I can only envision as a lifelong battle with medication and side effects. It’s almost easier to let myself believe that I am lazy and without willpower.
So, I guess with this, like religion, I’m just going to refrain from making any decisions about what I fully believe just yet.