Getting diagnosed with bipolar is an interesting thing. On the one hand, it’s a disorder that has no cure and is going to be something I fight with to keep under control for the rest of my life. I’ve always had it, I just didn’t know it. So knowing now, I can actually track and keep better control of my life and moods. But the weight of such a diagnosis is a terrifying thing to swallow. It’s taken me a few months to fully accept and appreciate what it means for me. It’s still a terrifying prospect having to make sure I have the right amount of sleep, as well as my other triggers, which I’m still trying to find out. Getting my diagnosis has also caused a few other things that I was not expecting, and which I don’t believe have to do with my medication evening out my moods. Though, having a calmed and evened out mood, without ennui, is an experience I didn’t think I would ever have.
This all being said, there are some changes that I have gone through since September 19th that I don’t believe have to do with medication. Perhaps my intensive therapy, but not medication. These are small things, but I’ve found that I like to focus on small wins a lot more than I used to. I used to just focus on negative. I finally got my head out of my ass a bit to see the forest for the trees.
- I’m much more able to be affectionate
I have never been one to hug people or show much affection. I’ve always been uncomfortable showing love to those around me. I didn’t hug those I cared about unless they initiated it. Hell, I never hugged my daddy and told him how much I loved him. Recently though, that’s gone out the window. I will happily hug anyone and everyone. I am so much more appreciative of those around me, I’m happy to show them how I feel, and don’t care if they don’t want it like I did before. I’ve hugged Jack more in the past week than in the 10 plus years I know him.
- Kindness and understanding
I’ve never been one to be unkind to people, but I find myself being even more understanding of people and what they may be going through. This one doesn’t have a great explanation. A lot of my hypomania shows as irritability and annoyance. I hide it from most people, but I’d have a constant stream of negative and just plain mean thoughts running through my head. I’m not doing that now. I don’t get annoyed by the small things anymore. Even/especially with Connor. I still get annoyed (who doesn’t when living with a man?) but it’s not a constant resentment and pissy mood anymore, which is such a huge relief to me, and likely him.
3. Impulsive Shopping
Okay, this one may be the medication, but it’s a side effect I’m grateful for, as well as my wallet. Whenever I’m at the store, I’d pass something and say, “oh, I need that too!” and fill my cart. Eventually, I’d end up with a full cart when I went in for milk and creamer. It was a constant sore spot between Connor and I, but I felt helpless to stop it. Usually it WAS something the house actually needed, but it was not what I came in for. I’m still not great at this, but at least now I hesitate for a moment and think if I REALLY need to buy it now, or if it can wait. I try and make a shopping list and stick to it. I am still not great, but at least I can stick to a budget better. If he gives me $300 for Christmas presents, I can spend $296.98. I did that the other day and was so proud. I used to split payment and charge my debit card for anything over the amount I was supposed to have spent, and the rest to our account. I don’t do that now.
- Telling myself hurtful things
I am terrible at negative self-image and guilt. I make everything my fault and feel terrible about everything that happens. This is still a huge struggle for me. However, I am being more kind and forgiving to myself. Or trying to be anyway. I have started to check myself when I say I “should” be or should have done something. I know this is more to do with therapy than accidental, but it is at least something. I’m able to sometimes step back and realize I’m being terrible to myself and stop it by changing subjects in my internal dialogue. I’m trying to be as kind to myself as I am to others, though I’m not sure I can manage that. I’m an angel to others (that was in sarcasm font).
- Who I am and what I want
This one is an ongoing thing, as I haven’t had a clue for most of my adult who I am and what I want. I’ve learned a few core things about myself that I can hold onto as I go through episodes of despair; that I can cling to until I come out the other side. I’m learning to say when I don’t want something and stick to it. I’m finding out what I do love and what relaxes me and working to do that more. I’ve got a LOT more work to do on this one, but the fact that it’s even an option now is a welcome relief. I’m no longer subject to only depression where everything and everyone is just grey and holds no joy.
As the great Brandon Boyd of Incubus says, “It helps to know the difference between serenity and ennui.” I finally have a little bit of serenity, and it is priceless.