I Have Bipolar, Prefer the Term Manic-Depressive

In 2012, after a months-long period of paranoid delusions, markedly less sleep, pressure to talk, high energy levels- all classic bipolar symptoms. But I was also severely depressed simultaneously for the last three -four weeks of the episode. Calling a disorder that can present directly opposing symptoms “bipolar” misses the point for many who’ve been diagnosed.

I was prescribed lamotrigine, a mood stabilizer with minimal side effects, and after about a week I was feeling back to normal. My psychiatrist didn’t increase my dosage (standard practice) for over a year, so I started cycling again. This time it began as depression dominant- crying every morning for over three months straight, feeling worthless, etc.- but out of the blue the mania was back in the mix, and badly. I lost so much sleep I had a psychotic break from reality, thinking- and hearing people talk about how shitty or annoying I am, beliefs that I was being followed from time to time, and at the worst point I heard my roommate say he was coming into my room with a knife.

It was around that point that I checked into a local psychiatric hospital (voluntarily) to get my head straight. The irony of it was, I’ve never felt more accepted and understood fundamentally than at Pavilion. The staff psychiatrist prescribed lithium, which was concerning to me, and it took a bit to rein in the mania. Once it did though, the paranoid delusions went away, I slept better, and stopped self-isolating.

It definitely has its benefits though. I attribute my creative streak, and affinity for stand-up comedy especially, to my disorder. I have a memorable, interesting, and weird personality many find endearing- the rest get exhausted pretty quick. It’s a great excuse, and a better source of inspiration.

So that’s why I prefer manic depressive. It more accurately describes the overlap between the two, at least for my brand of mood disorder. No person is two-dimensional, and it seem unlikely there can there be a two-dimensional mental illness.

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