On Being Bipolar II
I have never had fewer than 5 medications at one time. I am what the medical community calls bipolar. Where the medical community can’t seem to catch up is the specificness of being bipolar 2 rapid cycling.
Bipolar 2 is a more subtle and often times more cruel than it’s fairly recognizable cousin bipolar 1. Within the disease lies unstoppable thoughts, compulsions, depression and hypomania. But the worst of all these is having a mixed episode. It’s like having all these hyper thoughts crammed into your head while at the same time being exceedingly depressed. It’s like there’s someone telling you its a good idea to do something when you know it’s not. Its the voice saying ‘jump off that bridge, no one will notice’ and you thinking yeah, that’s a fantastic idea.
Before I was diagnosed, I was a compulsive spender (one of the symptoms of the disease). I would purchase a drink, never to drink it, just to spend the money. I felt like I had to spend. HAD TO. It didn’t matter what it was, the need to spend was constant.
The insomnia is a bitch. Seriously. One comes to appreciate the ability to fall asleep when you literally try everything to fall asleep but cannot. And it’s not just the insomnia. It’s the racing thoughts that accompany it. Sometimes it’s a blessing. Sometimes it’s a curse. A blessing in that when the creativity switch is in the on position, I create like crazy. It’s, again, a compulsion. A curse in that it affects my daily life.
The rapid cycling is where the medical community gets hazy. They don’t know quite how to handle rapid cyclers. To define, a rapid cycler is someone who goes from depressive to mania within a matter of minutes, hours or days. This is my shit hole. Not to say that the medications I’ve been on haven’t helped. They’ve been a complete blessing in this area. My savior has been Valium. Literally, it allows me to function as a somewhat normal member of society. But as my doctor had so lovingly put it, Valium is a mask for the real disease. And as I had so lovingly put it, I was fucking thrilled to have a mask that works like a miracle.
Thus we come to the creativity and how it all ties in. When I was undiagnosed and untreated, I was immensely creative. Music flowed through me. Photography was a breeze. Writing was effortless. Then when I was medicated I had to actually work hard and push myself in order to accomplish any of these activities. It sucked. I know it sounds like the whiney kid at school complaining because his dad got him a BMW instead of a Mercedes, but seriously, I wanted my creativity back. I wanted the ease and the speed and effortlessness back. I don’t know how to do this in combination of my drugs, but there has to be a way. There has to be.