To back peddle just a minute, I had started to see a psychiatrist finally in April and was an absolute mess. I could not go anywhere without crying. I had lost my voice, not literally lost my voice, but I had seized speaking to people as I had nothing to say. I had become more and more of a recluse. I was sinking more and more into a big black hole. It was wrapping its arms around me and I was (and still am) most days, quite happy to find peace and solitude in its darkness.
The psychiatrist, or shall I say my psychiatrist, is right out of a Woody Allan movie. She is absolutely "no bull shit". She is skinny and adventuresome and has curly, outrageous hair. She has the bed side manner of a house fly. Forget getting an "I know that this must be hard" out of her or any sort of molly coddling. She expects me to be getting on with life while I also deal with mental illness. In short, she is perfect for me. Although I sometimes go into our appointments desperate for an "it will get better", "I'm sorry this is so tough", "I know that you are feeling terrible"; her asking me if I have a job yet is a much better approach for me.
The psych and i spent about 3-4 sessions together chatting about what was going on in my life. It was very interesting as we really focused in on a few key things:
- I had been chronically depressed for as long as i could remember (10-15 yrs) with some periods of deeper depression that others
- I had recently (in the last year or two) had a number of panic attacks
- I had started in the last couple of years had a number of times with I was very "manic".
- working for 20 hrs a day
- not sleeping more than 3-4hrs a day
- sending 200-300 e-mails a day
- speaking very loudly and quickly
- dominating the conversations at work
- being difficult to be around
- generally odd behavior, like spending money that I didn't have
- being aware that I was this way and having others aware that i was not healthy
- aware that when i was not like this I was depressed
- knowing that whatever I was doing now (taking 30mg of Cipralex a day and talking to a Psychotherapist) was not working
- acknowledging that I really was very sick
At about the 4th or 5th appt, she announced that she had a diagnosis and was quiet confident that I had Bipolar Disorder partnered with General/Social Anxiety Disorder. I was shocked. This is not a diagnosis that one takes lightly. I could not speak. I could not breath. I did not know what to think. Weren't crazy people Bipolar???? wasn't that the name for people with Manic Depression?? I certainly wasn't that crazy, was I???
I spent the rest of the day crying. I went to have lunch on my own at a deli and all I remember is crying through lunch while eating brisket and not sobbing.
It didn't take me long to come to terms with and find a peace with at least having a diagnosis. I think after being ill for so long and feeling crazy for so long, I was just desperate for someone to tell me that I actually had "something". Having a label meant that I would then be able to work on a treatment plan, get the drugs that I needed, the therapy that I needed, start to get on the path to feeling better.
Other posts that I will be writing that are a huge part of this will be:
- The adventure of bipolar drugs - finding the right "cocktail"
- Mourning the old me - A life before Bipolar
- My pie - what I need to make my life work
- Recovery versus Disease Management