I distinctly remember the day I started Lithium, the gold standard as a mood stabilizer for bipolar. After years of unpredictable moods and behavior accompanied with bouts of psychosis my mind went from a constant raging mesh of thoughts to quietness.
Lithium is by no means a cure all. Nor a guarantee that your episodes will cease. But it can minimize their frequency and severity. I tried for years a trial and error process of medication after medication to find the right combination as a treatment. Either something didn’t work or the side effects dramatically affected my function ability.
For years I sought to find relief. Stability. For years my mind was loud. Then my mind became quiet. It was not something I was used to. Ironically, it was something I didn’t like. The music had stopped that I heard many times. The background voices were silenced. It was like losing a group of friends that left me feeling alone. Quieting the inside noises tended to make the outside noises louder. It was something that took some getting used to. So much that I took the Lithium off and on for quite some time until I reached a point that I refuse to go off of it.
Before then I have wallowed in depression and soared through mania. Been resentful towards the pills I will have to take the rest of my life. But no matter how bad my life has ever felt or consequences I have put myself up against, I cannot remember a time ever wishing I did not have bipolar.
How, given the choices, could I possibly choose to battle these ups and downs of a disorder that makes my moods mercurial, my family shaking their heads, my friends wary and others gossiping which turns my life upside down with every changing cycle?
For as long as I can remember bipolar has been a part of me. It has affected every aspect of my life deeply. It alters your mind, playing evil tricks on it, creating false hope and false memories. Bipolar creates imaginary worlds to live in. Sometimes when you cannot deal with the real world’s problems.
Much my adult life I have spent coping and figuring out how deal with negative consequences because of my uncontrollable behavior. My lows have been, at times, unbearably low landing me in hospitals on suicide watch. In my manic times, I have come very close to destroying everything I hold dear. I have had to face the reality of unmet goals.
However, I honestly believe that this bipolar allows me to see the world in ways I otherwise would have missed. Ways I think most “normal” people refuse to see. I find the beauty and calm in ordinary things. I feel more deeply, have more emotions, and have a better understanding of myself that I believe I would otherwise.
The creativity sparked by manic times allows me to create in ways that would not otherwise be possible Experiencing the ‘absolutes’ of emotions is something most people never get to really do. I see the world in colors and pictures. I see it in darks and lights.
Even though I have felt the sting of stigma and judgments, I have also been extended true compassion and forgiveness. Some things most take for granted or never experience. In spite of how many times I feel so alone, I have been that I truly am not alone.
With bipolar I used to believe life’s obstacles were too much to bare because of how my own imperfections impended upon it. Over the years I have learned through trials and tribulations life is what you let God make of it, not what it makes of you.
I still experience mania and depression. They are something that are not going away. My last hospitalization was four years ago. I’ve lived on a roller coaster ride dragging my family behind me. Other than affecting them and the troubles I’ve gotten myself into, I wouldn’t get rid of my bipolar ever. To do so, I would deprive myself of a world I see and emotions I feel that most are not privy to. And those imaginary worlds and false memories somehow become real of which I would have to say goodbye.