A trip to the psychiatrist

To be told you’re undergoing depression isn’t the easiest thing to digest. Even if you already happen to be bipolar, and even if it’s something which reaffirms your own diagnosis, assessments can be emotionally difficult. But having said that, one’s generally in good hands with psychiatrists, and such evaluations ideally shouldn’t be challenging, as one attains a sense of relief if a professional can shed knowledge on an illness. Half the battle is knowing the answers, and talking to a psychiatrist helps greatly, at least it does for me.

This year has been a life-altering experience for my family, but it has especially been difficult for me personally. That’s the amazing thing about hindsight, while in the moment, you may not realize truths, hindsight provides you with much-needed perspective. For lack of a better word, when I was ‘uprooted’ from my native surroundings, i.e., Toronto, and planted here in California, life seemingly was okay. I didn’t need a winter jacket or snow boots and the sun was usually shining. In hindsight, there was always a lingering sadness that dominated my moods though. Naturally, as someone who is bipolar, these depressive periods were also marked by other extremes of bipolar, such as, frustration, aggression, irritability. And in my case, not only was I homesick, but I was struck with guilt because I left my elderly parents behind in Toronto to fulfill my family’s goals.

For me, the biggest challenge comes when others around you fail to make the connection that you’re bipolar, with uncontrolled symptoms, not always in charge of yourself. When your bipolar symptoms take possession of your life, and your own personality is confused with what you’re exhibiting during times when you’re unwell, that’s hard, because during these turbulent durations, you’re truly not in control. It’s like a Eureka moment, when you realize that because of the symptoms you’ve displayed, you’re pushing people away. What’s worse is what follows, i.e., how utterly awful you feel about yourself and what you’ve caused. I’ve said this before, those who know me well, or are close to me, get to experience all of me, and I’m not always put-together.

I knew things were going wrong when I was literally deleting people from my life — classic case of distancing oneself from others, yet I couldn’t help my actions. Also, along with annihilating friendships, being negative, finding flaws in everyone and everything, being unable to be in the mood to get up and do activities and chores are all cookie-cutter examples of depression.

Let me be clear. I’ve known all along my move to California was going to be tough. Did I know I would feel this way at the onset. Maybe I did. And perhaps I brought this on myself. Was I fulfilling a self-created prophecy. One might ask, why I felt this way if I came here willingly. The answer to that is, I couldn’t have said no, and even though I have felt depression this year, I still don’t harbour regrets about the decision to move.

I know I’ll be okay, once again. The human spirit is resilient. I’m thankful that I have outlets like painting and writing, both of which have helped me keep a slightly better, more positive outlook on life, even though depression has always been the menu du jour. With the help of psychiatrists, one gains perspective on his or her own life. In my case, for example, I was reminded that I moved from one country to another, was a new mother and putting myself on the back burner, with many other added pressures, and trying to immerse myself in a new, unfamiliar environment. An average person would’ve cracked under the pressure, and if you happen to have a mood disorder, you can feel aimless, lost, and life can seem tough.

As much as I consider myself to be a mental health advocate, I suffer also. Even though I think I know myself well, but it turns out we’re always finding ourselves, especially at critical junctures of life. My medications are being tweaked, and I’m seeking psychotherapy. I know change is hard to see, but I’ve realized that patience, a positive outlook, little to no self-pity go a long way.

Being bipolar has the potential to alter my days, hours, minutes and at times, seconds. My responsibility to myself goes a long way, or else depression or mania can strike in full force. I view this recent development as a sign of how I can rebound from depression, and without being too corny, I am hopeful, because hope is all I’ve got.

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