2007 and the bipolar diagnosis

When I was about 14, back in the 70’s, my mom lost custody of her 4 kids in a heated custody battle. There were a few hotly contested issues — alcoholism, paternity, and bipolarism. She had been diagnosed a bipolar and she fought it like the dickens. I’m not bipolar, she said. My father waved around battle sticks like the word “manic” as if it was the most insulting confirmation in the world. The word manic became a symbol — a confirmation. If someone felt stirred or compelled about something in particular and then pursued it 200%, they were manic, manic-depressive, bipolar. Back in the 70’s, you could lose your kids over it but that was probably not why she fought it tooth and nail. Who would want to be labeled bipolar? Who would want to be labeled manic depressive? Like who the hell wants to admit that they have good days and they have bad days? Who wants to admit they’re so freaking insane that they have ups and downs?

But that’s not what bipolar is. I know because I’m bipolar. When I first accepted the label, and the title, and the sentence back in 2007, I hid behind the “soft” bipolar. That softened the blow. I wasn’t the type with that stayed up all night or wanted to jump off buildings believing I could fly. I didn’t have that type of manic so I was just soft bipolar, bipolar 2. What the heck? Why did I need that crutch to lean on? Crazy is crazy, is crazy.

In the early 2000’s, I started losing jobs. I was very successful and had high powered jobs and I started losing them. I would kind of land on my feet, taking some steps backward with each next job but will still get a decent next job. I put on about 30 pounds, started my own business, cashed in and spent our entire 401k and racked up over 100,000 in credit card debt. After declaring bankruptcy, or before, I finally accepted the bipolar title. I started some meds and it started to get better. At one point, he had me on Cymbalta, Lamictal, Alprazolam and Adderall. My GP called it “quite a cocktail” so I fired him. I was fat, heavily medicated, jobless, broke, bankrupt, and sick.

Ten years later, I’m not fat, slightly medicated, have a job, have a little money and I’m sick and tired of being medicated. I fought back from all of those other things and I want to get off meds. Shouldn’t I be able to?