My brain and body are wide awake right now but my eyes are so struggling. I tossed and turned for 3 hours last night and woke up before 6 am this morning. (I didn’t have to be up till 8) It feels something like a manic stage. Last night even though I was frustrated at my lack in ability to sleep, my brain and heart were extremely happy and my body was covered in a tingly feeling. It resembles feeling high but naturally. A lot of people would be jealous of this trait, but to me it’s not something I prefer. My thoughts were racing because of how much joy I felt for no reason. I actually came home feeling sick… talk about a big shift. That’s the thing about bipolar, you could have phases lasting a few weeks or months, short episodes lasting days, or brief moments just leaving you with “what the fuck was that” thoughts. – That was last night.
I haven’t experienced a full blown manic episode since before I was diagnosed. Once I was on medication I was able to get a grip on reality and finally feel what it felt like to be normal. Since then even being on and off medications I haven’t experienced mania. It’s been mostly episodes of depression for the last 6 years with some hypomanic stages in between. When I was diagnosed I went through the routine set of questions and many visits with my therapist for my psychiatrist to come up with a type 2 diagnoses. Back then I didn’t fully understand the difference between type 1 and type 2. I just remember them asking questions I didn’t relate to like, “Do you feel like your God and you can do anything?” and the answer was no. Since then I know things have changed in the description of the two types. I’ve done research and listened to podcasts that have explained what certain types of manic episodes look like and how they are related to a type 1 diagnosis. You only need one full blown manic episode to get a type 1 diagnoses. Knowing I haven’t experienced anything like it since before medication makes me wonder if I was misdiagnosed. Personally, to me it’s not that big of a deal but it crosses my mind from time to time. Seeing as I’m not on medication and I have a good grip on my different states, I can tell when something is off and usually go to the doctor right away if I feel off. The fact that I haven’t felt it in almost 6 years kind of leaves me to think it won’t happen again, but (haha) that’s wishful thinking.
One thing that stood out other than the normal characteristics of mania was the part about hearing voices. I’ve never heard voices, thought I heard voices or even questioned it. But on a podcast I recently listened to, as he just got re diagnosed with type 1, he explained that it can also be like having a conversation with yourself. It’s like you don’t notice it until you do. He explained his racing thoughts, and how he would get the crazy ideas of doing something, or how to do something a different way. In ways you wouldn’t normally think of in any other state of mind, things you probably wouldn’t be concerned about at all. He explained how those thoughts are in the realm of voices telling you to do something, even when it seems like it’s just you having a thought. After hearing it explained like that, it clicked and that’s what makes me second guess my diagnoses. I can remember the racing thoughts and having all these ideas pop into my head and how I had to make sure they all got done. But of course there was never enough time, so I wouldn’t sleep, and I would have terrible anxiety about not being able to complete everything I wanted to do. To me, it was like a never ending to do list filled with random things that would come to me about 10-15 times a day.
This is what made me go to see a therapist for the first time. I can remember everything about this process and what I was feeling. I remember showing her all the notes that had piled up of things I needed to get done. I remember telling her how my brain wouldn’t shut off and let me not worry about it. How I felt I was seriously going crazy from it and wanted it to stop. Among the other things I was going through, this was the biggest, and what made me draw the line and say I couldn’t do it alone anymore. I was never for being on medication, but at that time I knew it’s what I needed.
I was nineteen and with my ex husband (boyfriend at the time). We knew each other for a long time and I was pretty open with him about what I was going through up until this point. He was really supportive even when trying to conquer his own demons. I remember being so scared to see my therapist for the first time. What was going to happen? What was she going to say? Am I going to be able to handle it? All questions that popped into my head. Of course, you learn that therapy is a great thing and it wasn’t a big deal like you thought it would be. I saw her once or twice a week for six months before finally deciding to see a psychiatrist for a diagnosis. I told her that the therapy is helping but I still couldn’t stop my racing thoughts and felt I needed medication. I can remember expressing my fears to my ex about the medication and asking what was going to happen to me. It felt like I was going down a new rabbit hole, to a reality I’ve never experienced almost. It was on my 19th birthday I had my first appointment with my psychiatrist. I remember shaking and having so much anxiety when I had to leave my ex in the waiting room while I visited with her. I knew what was coming. I was 99 percent sure for a while by this point that I was bipolar. So the diagnosis wasn’t a surprise. But just the process of getting it, hearing her say it, and providing the medications I needed to get through it was like a huge weight off my shoulders. I finally knew what it was and could do something about it.
Of course, even though it was a relief to figure it out. They don’t give you a heads up about the constant fear you have when it comes to telling people. How you feel labeled as crazy and don’t know if you should tell anyone. How this battle suddenly becomes a secret one you feel you need to hide. Of course my ex knew and didn’t pass judgment, but the process of telling my mom, my family, or my close friends was terrifying. What was going to happen? Especially back then when the stigma was so bad and people didn’t understand fully what being bipolar was or meant. I don’t remember how long it took me to come out but after while I knew I had to say something because I’m not one that likes to hide anything about myself. Anyone that knows me knows I’m not ashamed and I’m very open. The fact was, that none of them responded the way I feared they would. If they had judgments or assumptions about it then they didn’t express it. I could tell a lot of them were confused, probably because they didn’t know much about it, but everyone understood. So I was either just lucky, or I surround myself with really good people. But that process helped me shape who I am today when it comes to being open about my diagnoses. If it would’ve gone the other way I don’t know what would’ve happened.
With all these ramblings, I do encourage anyone that’s going through this or something similar to just be open and honest with yourself first. You have to come to terms with what’s wrong and what you can/cannot handle and say it’s okay to ask for help and reach out. I’m not a fan of family doctors, so to get proper diagnoses it’s better to go to a therapist and psychiatrist to handle it. I remember picking up the phone was the biggest struggle for me. If you don’t think you can do it, turn to someone you trust that can do it for you. Being on and off meds, there have been times when I’ve had to have someone call my doctor for me. No shame, overcoming your battle is more important than what others think.