Much of the time I focus on my bipolar. It’s such an engrained component of my being it can’t be ignored. It deserves and craves as much attention as everything in my life, if not more. Yesterday I was reflecting on my condition pre-ECT and how disarrayed my life was. It was a living hell. ECT was a God send as I haven’t had a major depression or manic episode in six months. But I remember them……
I never see the episodes coming. They sneak up on me. But when they make their presence known it’s too late and I am at their mercy. You would think after 38 years by now I would be able to spot them a mile away. Maybe the brain just becomes too weak and unable to recognize them; depression, mania, hypo-mania and psychosis.
I would feel nothing. I call it the Nothing Feeling. There is no happiness. No joy. No sadness. Not even depression. Absolutely nothing. Calling it depression gives it no justice. I wouldn’t want to exist. I wouldn’t want to die either.
Thinking is all but non-existent. Imagine trying to think feeling nothing? It’s impossible. What minimal thinking I can muster up is reduced to thinking how you don’t want to do anything.
And that’s what I do. Nothing. Exhaustion sets in and even rolling over in the bed I have secluded myself to is a chore. It is where I would spend most of the day with low music in the background. I listen to Standards 90% of time and it seems to fit the occasion. It’s just to have something fill my mind.
And my depression brings on another threat; the re-emergence of my eating disorder. Food becomes my enemy once again. It has been reduced to a collection of numbers. Numbers that can add up and work against me. The disorder becomes my comfort and my distress. It plagues me on a constant schedule. It whispers in ears, “Don’t eat that. You’re not hungry. You’ll only gain weight.”
When I am depressed, this regular world is bleak and un-inviting. I want no part of it with its lack of prospects for joy ever again empty, black. But, the same world, when I am manic, seems a wonderful playground which my slightest whim becomes law with no consequences.
I have the most severe form of bipolar, Bipolar 1 rapid cycling, mixed with psychotic features. I take two cocktails of medications a day attempting to keep me stable. Sometimes it’s not enough. As unpredictable as bipolar is, so is the body. In particular the brain. It changes and responds in any different ways to the same stimuli.
My depressions can become lethal. An army of suicidal thoughts can take over my brain as if to conquer. This particular feature I have learned to spot its presence. I can hear it coming. Yet, I am unable to stop them. I can merely distract them. Distract them with business. If I keep them distracted them they are unable to succeed at their mission.
Treatment for a serious episode of bipolar depression is different to the best treatment for serious bipolar mania. To complicate things, when a person is stable and no longer is experiencing either episode, then their bipolar maintenance will almost always be different again.
I take two of the most powerful and top medications. One for my mania, Lithium, and one for my depression, Lamictal, along with a typical antidepressant. At the highest dosage possible ceasing to take my Lithium is not an option. It is what keeps me the most stable. Lamictal on the other hand is the leading drug to treat depression in bipolar and is sometimes used in conjunction with another antidepressant.
Ironically, the very drug I take to save me is capable of killing me. Lithium is a sodium and a powerful poison. Too little is not enough. Too much is deadly.
I was determined to climb out of this darkness and to escape the Nothing. With the support of my wife and the ECT I did just that. I rely on God who gives me the strength. Who reminds me who I am and where I belong. I rely on my wife, who in her patience comforts me and builds me up.