Dreams: Crazy portals in our brain

Dreams can be crazy little portals into what the hell is going on in your brain. I just wish I could feel rested the next day instead of exhausted as if I physically endured what unfolded in my mind. It was a wild ride last night and honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it all.

 


It always feels as if I dozed off and suddenly even violently awoke in my dreams. This was no different. I looked around at a room of family and friends in a strangely large house as it seemed to have many floors. Maybe it was a hotel but it felt more as if it was someone’s home. We were about in the middle on the maybe ten story house watching a movie or something, (which was odd in itself.) A tornado siren wailed outside and everyone jumped up and headed to the stairway.  Someone yelled this stairway only went up so we would all have to go up and then across to another stairway to make it to the basement for safety. I was in the back making sure everyone was there when I couldn’t find my son. Panic raged through me and I called him, searched for him and everyone else was just gone. Saving themselves. I ran up the stair way and checked every floor screaming for him. He’s non-verbal so I don’t know what I was expecting.

On the tenth floor, having trouble breathing I searched the floor and in a bedroom I found him crying holding his blanket and tablet. I couldn’t figure out why he was up there so far away? I scooped him up in my arms and cried with relief that I had found him. My little dog barked at the window. Until I wiped my eyes away and saw outside the tornado nearing us. I slid my boots on, grabbed my large overnight bag and quickly grabbed what I could. I threw my climbing gear on my back, a sling bag over my shoulder with ropes and a grappling hook and a bag that strapped around my waist and thigh. I picked up my son and ran out of the door, the siren screaming or maybe it was the wind? The building shook fighting for its life as well as I ran down a stairwell. My dog followed but was terrified and stopped in a corner. I scooped her up and threw her in my bag, we didn’t have time and I wasn’t leaving her behind. I ran carrying my son, his most precious belongings and my dog down stairs until the ended and into another hallway.

We never made it to the basement. The house was hit by large debris ruining much of it but was still standing. I remember letting my dog out of the bag while clutched on to Aiden, walking up to a nearby window seeing so much destruction. It looked as if everything had dropped ten feet below the house. Out to the left there was a deep crater where a few dogs where attempting to climb out. On the right it now looked like a hill of the transferred soil and debris. People in swat gear were climbing it being led by a handful of german shepherds which made my dog bark relentlessly. At least they knew we were here. I thought knowing the way we came, the stairway was destroyed and the house felt unsteady at this point.

I watched the people working to free the survivors in the basement. I set my son down to pull out my rope and tools and put my dog in their place. I hooked the grappling hook onto something sturdy nearby and attached it to one rope as we were still quite a ways up. The other rope I wrapped around my son and myself, making sure he was secured to me. I dropped the large bag out the window, climbed out and began our descend. My dog barked unhappy about her circumstances but my son smiled at me and enjoyed the ride, holding me tight with so much wonder and life in his eyes and I lowered us to safety like Fessik in reverse.

 


I woke up in the middle of the night. Well it was the middle of the night for me I suppose. It was about five a.m. and my son had woken up and needed to use the bathroom and wanted something to drink. Feeling a little more centered going through the motions of 5 a.m. motherhood. I laid back in bed and surprisingly I quickly fell asleep. Usually I would start the same dream over or perhaps partly through to learn another piece of the puzzle of what happens next. I dreamed, just not the same one. It seems I dream like this most often when I argue with my family or my stress levels increase throughout a single day.


I was in a building much different from the first. This building was cold. It felt like it was underground of a hospital or something similar. It felt as I was not suppose to be.

I was walking into a door in what looked like white scrubs with a large white hood thinking, almost there. “Almost where?” I mumbled to myself under my breath. I walked into a large room with 30-50 people with my head down as my feet led me (as if they knew where they were going) toward a glass door with a key swipe fab. I waited until someone else exited and squeezed through, locking it behind me. Two girls laid strapped to tables in similar attire. I pulled my hood back recognizing them though I couldn’t say who they were. I grabbed a large silver bed pan nearby and slammed it against the man’s face leaning over the first girl’s bed. He crashed to the floor unconscious causing alarm outside the door’s. Guards were yelling, people were running and lights began to flash wildly. I removed the IV’s and unstrapped each girl. “Can you stand?”

“We will manage. Thank you.”

“Where is she?” I asked looking at the empty third bed.

“They moved her, out of the facility I heard.”

“Time to go.” I said with such sadness as whoever I intended to save was not there. We armed ourselves with nearby items as I stole the man’s swipe card. We unlocked the door surrounded by a few guards, rushing them barely making it passed them. We ran through the screaming people nearby and excited the first door the sunlight came through with the key card.

We ran through woods and walked along a strange deep river filled with strange whales which resembled bass fishing lures with large bumps on the top of them that looked like giant purple carnations in a mass group on the front top of their heads. I thought they looked misplaced but I could feel them traveling with me the way the crows always do on my walks and it felt comforting somehow.

We ended up on a beautiful street in the city on a large from lawn in front of an even bigger house, painted in tans and browns with large pillars in front and a wrap around porch. It felt oddly familiar. I stared for a while until one of the girls brought my attention to a tree on the front yard the furthest from the house. Magnificently gigantic with branches as elegant as a dancer. Balloons were trapped in it all over, their ribbons wrapped around branches and tangled in its leaves. The balloons seemed to have names on the them but I couldn’t make them out. A light breeze rushed me I closed my eyes until I heard a branch snap and watched a balloon begin to fall, catching the breeze. I chased it, tackling it to the ground. I turned it over to find it was my name on, “Happy Birthday, Andrea!” I turned back to the house as two women I recognized with love in my soul echoing back, came walking down the front steps of the house. Except, these women looked to be at least 30 years younger than they are now, rushing to embrace me. We changed into something more comfortable, jeans and black shirts or tanks and boots. I wanted to stay but I couldn’t and i don’t really know why. It felt like home but my mission was to save this girl, I didn’t even remember. We embraced, cried a little and the red head whispered into my ear something and my eyes lit up. I can’t remember what she said but it felt important.

We returned to walk down the path near the river. We came upon a little town and when we saw the words “Bar” and “Food,” the girls insisted we go. Reluctantly I agreed. Inside our eyes met with a man, the same man that had exited the door at the facility where I snuck in to save them. He smirked at me. Floored I launched at him, taking him to the ground. “Where is she?” I demanded.

“She’s gone.” He paused before saying, “They killed her.”

“No!” My soul felt as if it caught its breath for a moment. I grabbed a nearby beer bottle and smashed it against the floor near his face and held it to his throat, “You mean you did?”

“No. I tried to save her. Sure for myself but I did try. The worst part is, they will do it again. They will do it again tomorrow and the day after.” I dropped the bottle. Rocked him in the face as hard as my fist would allow, crumbling onto the ground.

It was in that moment I realized the girl I was searching for, was me.

 


 

 

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XO

 

Drea

When nightmares feel all to real

Most of my nightmares consist of me running, forever it seems. Being chased or chasing someone or something. Thankfully in my dreams I have stamina and the endurance to keep running. I often wake up with my legs feeling sore at times. I also tend to get into these grand battles, always fighting. Winning some, losing others.

Last night this was not the case at all, there was no running or fighting. Just panic and blood. It felt so incredibly real it took several minutes this morning to come to terms with the fact it was not real at all.

 

*Warning: Not suitable for all ages*


THE NIGHTMARE
I did not feel well and I couldn’t really explain how but it was different than my everyday pain and mental & emotional struggles caused by the 8 x 11 page list of disorders I bare. My heart was racing, my stomach turning. I stared into the mirror in the bathroom attempting to rid the awful taste of something horrible about to happen, out of my mouth. I rinsed my mouth out with mouthwash and as I spit five teeth coated in thick blood mixed with Listerine, fell from my mouth into the sink with a clank which seemed to echo. I covered my mouth with a shaky hand, attempting to bare my weight on the counter with the other. I coughed, choking on the blood and in reflex spit more blood into the sink. Followed by more teeth. My eyes widened. I gathered the pieces of myself I had just lost and I ran out into the house barely audible saying, “ER, watch him.” Referring to my six-year-old son. An argument or barter system would have played out if the blood had not been all over the outside of my mouth, leaking out into my hands as I spoke.

I drove myself to the ER as I always did in such situations. Salt stinging my eyes, begging a being I don’t believe in and even hate not to let this be it. My son needs me. My mind screamed, pulling into the ER, nearly colliding with a parked car parked over the line as people who drive SUV’s and other large vehicles always seem to do. I stumbled out of the car and into the emergency room doors nearly collapsing on the security guard. He caught me and partially carried me to the check in desk. I attempted to check in but when I spoke my words were colluded with blood and more teeth flew into my hands. I could only painfully stare into the woman’s eyes with trembling lips. Begging for help through my glossy eyes.

They took me back steadfast and most of the doctors in the ER came to see my strange condition. A specialist of sorts with sleek blonde hair pulled back into a low ponytail, tugged at her white coat while examining me. Her demeanor was cold and she made no effort to ease my discomfort or mental turmoil. She walked away to speak with the attending claiming my “infection” of sorts was due to a drug I most likely injected. So much judgment leaked out of her skin. Injecting myself was something I had never done and as I attempted to explain no words fell from my lips, only red and white. Unfortunately the only way to treat this insatiable infection was to know the specific strain and I had taken no such injectable drugs. For a moment death would be imminent. I began to thrash unwilling to accept this carved out fate. They attempted to hold me down and as ordered searched my body for needle marks anyway. I tried to tell them but was unable to speak clearly and so while they searched my skin I wrote in my own blood on the white bed sheet, “no injections, only medical pot.” Something I use to treat my disorders.

At this point my family and friends had begun to start showing up at the ER demanding answers on my condition. It seemed to always take something extreme for a response of care by action and not only empty words. I am not sure who it was who was actually able to speak with the doctors and chose to race back to house I live in to find my “stash,” as the doctor called it. Maybe my lack of faith to believe someone would think to do so. By some wave of luck the medical team was able to test the contents to find one of the glass mason jars of marijuana was in fact laced with a deadly substance causing rapid decay in my body. They began inserting the treatment into my IV and I felt it burning inside of my skin. Now I needed major surgery to remove the infection in my mouth and replacing all of my now missing teeth. They claimed they were optimistic in which the infection hadn’t spread anything further. At this point, I was not.

Assuming the treatment was working, a elderly woman with a limp wheeled a computer on a cart slowly and a stack of paperwork since I could not speak, into my room as naturally I had to apply for a medical credit card to pay for the expenses before they would start anything as they already screened that my insurance would not cover the “cosmetic” tooth replacement.  I filled out the paperwork. Twice, because I kept dripping blood accidentally onto it.

I handed the paperwork to the woman, suddenly dropping on the edge of the bed clenching my stomach as a sharp pain followed by cramping erupted through me causing me to vomit. I puked up some strange large mass of sorts that I honestly thought was an organ I might need. Finally, the doctor decided to start the surgery regardless of the status of my potential medical credit line. She up’d the dose of the treatment as they rushed me down the hall.

It was a strange feeling watching them as I felt myself leaving myself in a way as they put some sort of mask on me to help knock me out while someone else injected me with something but from my point of view it just felt like the ice queen specialist was putting a pillow over my face to smother me and I wondered if that would be so bad? I choked trying to talk through that mess, trying to say my sons name. I tried to smack the bed to draw anyone’s attention to it but I’m sure it only looked as if I was tapping at what I had already written as they were wheeling me down the hall toward the OR. It read, “single mom, autistic son. All he has. Please.”

I woke up in the dream alive, in a panic after the surgery. Wanting to see my son, to hold him.

Immediately I shot out of my own bed, actually awake. Not sure if I was in reality or not. Not realizing for a while that I had been dreaming all of those horrible moments.

Unsure which was worse.

Today was a hard day

Today was a hard day. Days similar to today have tried to break me and sometimes I think where I find my strength is keeping it all deep inside of me wrapped up tightly with all the other things I bury for the sake of others.

I often write about how being bipolar feels to me. How depression binds me. I tend to shy away from sharing the part of what it is I actually go through to heal, to survive. The experiences themselves I hide only showing the pretty words strung together in a useable quote. To protect myself, to protect other’s maybe. Not today. Today I had to start over with a re-assesment of my mental health and well-being. I have come quite far from when I started my self-care just over five years ago. Yet, I cannot seem to do more than survive. 

I walked into the office feeling the same I do most days though it’s hard to describe. I mostly go through the motions of what needs to be done to get to the next day only to repeat the cycle. Lying to my brain that tomorrow, we can breathe, we can relax, we can have a good day and maybe we can do something we want to do without criticism, without guilt, without a time limit as my time has not been my own for such a long time now. So, I walk in and sit down and BamBam the therapy dog climbs up his giant stairs onto my psychiatrist’s desk and sits right in front of my face waiting for his pets.

Isn’t he adorable? So sweet and seemingly concerned of my well being. Throughout the session I would watch this look overtake my doctor filled with sadness, concern and so much empathy for what it is I endure. I was uncomfortable, I didn’t understand why? It seems that look is gone from so many familiar faces it was unrecognizable. Conditioned that what I endure is not as bad as it feels or not as severe because I am strong, because I survive, because I am a talented actress and the best performance of my life, is my life and because I am shown that I am selfish making such an experience feel unworthy. I fought tears during the 90 minute season as if crying was painful, or not allowed but really when I start I often cannot stop. Sure sometimes I want to be held, in silence but mostly I prefer these moments are when I am alone. I feel myself betraying myself by doing such a thing in front of another human being. Every part of my being screams to stop, Stop, STOP! I do temporarily, at least until she pokes another trigger.

I have control issues. Anytime I have “let go,” the consequences have been astronomical and I carry them always. They are as much a part of me as my bones, skin and blood is. The things that break me in session, are the same things that have been slowly killing me, making me sicker physically and mentally. It is part of who I am, to feel everything so intensely or feel nothing at all. I’m not really sure if that is part of my personality at this point or just a combination of Bipolar Disorder and all the other labels slapped on my chart. The main triggers, are naturally things I am not in control of. I drift while she types, watching BamBam now in his tiny dog bed, belly up and snoring louder than something so small should be able to. The third time she mentions how difficult my situation must be due to my son’s autism, I correct her firmly. “He is not a trigger.” My love for him and his for me is unconditional. WE accept each other exactly as we are. No one else does that. Maybe that is why the bond between mother and son or father and daughter seem to be so strong. I explained and she accepted.

After adding another diagnostic issue to my chart she asks cautiously if I would be wiling to see a trauma therapist. (Meanwhile I can still see my regular therapist.) Now of course how far I’ve come seems minuscule at this point. She says something along the lines of, “I know to you, you may not think what you have experienced is trauma but it doesn’t have to be physical to be considered trauma. You show classic sign of PTSD from the trauma you have experienced (specifically these 2 instances, including the sudden seemingly random onset of your disorder almost 18-19 years ago) and you have been in survival mode ever since.” My eyes filled quickly and suddenly. So much truth is, hard. I answer her questions, telling her things I would never tell another soul (but I want to feel better, so I do.) Telling her things I have told other’s but had received no reprieve or true help besides empty words, disinterest, judgment, etc. Blah, blah, blah.

We make a plan of action, the best we can with the hand we are dealt. BamBam wakes and comes over to me to say his goodbyes. I leave physically exhausted, mentally drained. Today was a hard day.

I left to pick my son up from school and we went home. Continued with all the things I am supposed to do, have to do to survive. Did all the things I can muster the strength to do with a smile; so my son is happy, healthy and feels loved for being exactly who he is, every single part of him that makes him who he is and allowing him to exist the way he needs ands wants to. My turn isn’t a real thing. It’s a wish list my doctor has on my chart and on this list there are other things she wants for me that I won’t allow myself to dwell on, to want (when I can help it), knowing there is always a barter to be made for a fraction of what I may want and sometimes a punishment of sorts for thinking about myself. Fighting for things I should have a right to, well I do not have the energy, will power or time for such silly things.

Tomorrow I will feel a little better, until I don’t again. Back and forth. My mental illness is a neurological (and genetic) condition I did nothing to aquire and no longer can tell if I deserve. But don’t worry, in a few days I’ll gather myself and be back to the approved version I have been shown, I am allowed to be.

Today was a hard day.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

― Robin Williams

Words and stuff

Poetry from my past often shows me I am still the same person dealing with the same things. As someone with Bipolar Disorder has to. With how much the people in my life have changed over the years I wonder why not me? Do I know who am I? Is this why I am so much the same?  Strange questions I ask myself though it may be the bourbon talking.

I digress, here’s two poems while I continue to situate this blog.

 

____________________________________________

 
In the nights last breathe
you may sit alone and cry
nothing left but hopeless dreams
that you are to imperfect for
no one cares to hear your voice
to see your sweet lipped words
but even in your loneliness
your light shines somewhere in this world.

 

_____________________________________________

 

Wandering questions
circle in my head
are they really questions?
were they really said?
too flustered
to consumed
by every rambling thought
to give a damn
about these questions in my heart.

 

______________________________________________

 

xo
Drea

Cinderella isn’t Dressed in Yellow, She’s Dressed in Black and She’s Depressed

© RussTurnerphotography
Cinderella isn’t dressed in yellow. She’s dressed in black. And she’s depressed, in pain, ill and exhausted but still getting the damn job done. She’s on mood stabilizers that don’t help nearly as much now that she quit smoking cigarettes. She doesn’t live with step relatives but blood and her dad isn’t dead but he’s not there. Her time doesn’t belong to her and if she attempts to steal any of it she is punished for being selfish. When she asks for help there’s always a price to be paid. Prince Charming brings her home (back to the house) at midnight when she can get a sitter. She sleeps a lot or not at all. She forgets to eat. She’s dying and she doesn’t even care anymore. All they think is, how selfish what about me?

© Andrea DiGiglio

This is what depression looks like

This is what depression looks like:

© Andrea DiGiglio
© Drea DiGiglio
This is what depression feels like (to me anyway.)
It’s more than the really bad days of not being able to get out of bed. The idea of getting out of bed is exhausting. Not showering for days on end and not giving a rat’s ass about it. Not eating for days or perhaps the opposite and shoveling food mindlessly and probably guilt tripping yourself for it every step of the way. Its not just the days where you cannot muster the strength to get out of bed. It’s the days where you feel like that but you do get out of bed, too.
If you have kids, you still have to get them ready for school and take them to their appointments. Sure, maybe your in sweats instead of actual clothes but who cares. You clearly don’t. If you work, you work. You don’t socialize, you don’t count the minutes. You just work and you’re not entirely sure if you’re grateful it’s over because you hate working but now what the fuck are you going do with your time? Every activity takes effort. Every activity. The world looks as if it is tinted in a lower temperature color. Food doesn’t taste as good. You drink, whether it’s to be numb or shut the noise in your head up or just to feel, settled. Or perhaps some other alternative to cope.
Your body and you argue. You’re sore for no reason or just tired all of the time. Or both.
At first you say how you feel. Then you feel like a burden. Maybe you are. Maybe you aren’t. You take care of everyone except yourself because all you are trying to do at this point is survive. This is usually the point when people bring up the things you do (or don’t do) because you’re depressed, because you seem to always be depressed and yes you’re already aware of them. When people bring them up a feeling erupts, a cross between; feeling guilty and angry. Guilty for your behavior or lack there of and that they noticed and want you to know they noticed. Anger because you now feel as if your feelings are no longer valid and only their feelings are and why not just do it instead of making me feel bad about it because obviously on this day I am struggling?
People who love you try to understand and maybe they really do. But let’s be honest it’s annoying when a family member isn’t contributing or is grumpy, sad or angry all of the time.
So you stop saying how you feel. It’s too hard to continuously repeat yourself and it’s not going away, it just keeps coming back. So you smile. You laugh. You try to, fake it till you make it.
Then people like us see these smiling photos stream across social media. Smiling, happy. All the while suffering. Enduring. Fighting. They don’t know they aren’t alone.

So, apparently. This is what depression looks like. We put makeup on so we can feel normal, look normal and maybe to fake it. Maybe it’s so the people in our lives will stop asking if we are okay because no, we are not okay. Maybe we don’t wan’t the shame and guilt of feeling how we feel. Maybe we are just too damn depressed to have another conversation about it. Today I am not okay and that is okay. Just maybe, tomorrow I will be and that smile might be real. If it’s not? I suppose you might not really be able to tell because we live in a world where those who carry the burden of a mental illness feel like a burden. It’s not just the words people say it’s their actions time and time again. Actions which do not say, “I understand you are suffering.” Rather say, “When will this end this time so the ‘real you’ will be back” (For them.) The longer someones struggle is with their disorder, the longer they suffer. The less patient I find people to be. It’s a sad world I find us to be in. Where those who always have the kindest of hearts are often the most broken.

Much love to you all, be kind to one another. Keep fighting through the darkness and know you are worth fighting for, your life is worth fighting for. The good days are worth it. Don’t give up.

XO
-Andrea

From my personal journal during a bipolar episode

I’m sharing this again because for me, it’s important to share my struggles. In hopes that other’s will see there is still reason for hope. I still have bad days. Hard days. Now, my good days are filled with so much love and joy and kindness, it truly makes these bad days easier to survive. I’m still that girl and I always will be. That’s the nature of my disorder, but I am so much more than that and now I can see that.

Here is an entry from my private journal. Honestly it’s on the lighter side, not sure what that says about my inner struggles.

October 2013:

I feel as if I’m floating through a sea of shadows. My mind is as tired as my body. I try to find the lighter side of things but the irritation of doing so is nauseating. I dream sometimes of a little house with an ocean view on a private beach where my mind can finally relax and I can enjoy my time here in this world. I dream of a body I feel comfortable in with no self loathing. Sadly, all of these things aren’t real and they leave me longing until I break down from the loss of something I never even had. As I cycle through waves of yet another bipolar episode I reach acceptance if only for a short period of time. Acceptance for who I am, baggage and all. For who I’m not and never will be. Allowing myself to dream even if it will never come to pass. I float between angry, depressed and a calmness I refer as the calm before the next storm. I wonder if I have the right to want more for myself. I try to be thankful for those moments of eerie calmness and quiet contemplation. It’s always so difficult to do so as I know if I wait a few hours, a day, days even I’ll be back to singing the blues and crying myself to sleep. My wonderland is a wasteland for broken souls. Once again the calmness before the storm settles on my skin like an itch I just can’t scratch. I will always continue to fight this nearing episode with what little strength I have. The air is crisp and inviting me to soak up the sun. As if the darkness wasn’t calling out to me. It’s moments like this I crave to be alone, yet a piece of me reaches out to those I love for comfort, for acceptance. The things I love to do hold less meaning in times like this. A hollowness erupts inside of me, taunting my rage and sadness. There’s no real rhyme or reason to feel this way. I know my life is far from horrible. Like a warm blanket the darkness comforts me as it usually does, inviting me to let go and cry about everything and nothing at all. The sad truth for me is, this battle is everlasting. Light may win today but as a new day dawns the fight starts over. I sit in shambles of a former version of myself. Oddly with hope that it will all be over soon and I will yet again bask in the light and enjoy a fragment of this life. How have I become such a jaded and cynical creature? I sigh deeply and prepare for another drop into sadness and utter grief. As if each time a piece of me dies I must mourn the loss. With shock plastered across me I can admit I am far better now with these modern poisons than many moons ago when I laid adrift in my depressing solitude. I accept this fate as much as I fight it. Always hiding this enormous side of myself from everyone. Knowing they couldn’t take it, knowing I couldn’t take that look upon their face or their response as heartfelt as they meant it to be. It feels as if I am living two lives all of the time. Except once in a while, like a full moon, where both sides of me collide and the true version of what I’ve become comes into full view. I don’t always hate her, the girl looking back at me. Though her voice is like poison in my mind. I would never wish this inner struggle on a single soul, it is far to cruel. Yet the calmness washes over me carrying a wicked grin. Even it sees what comes next. It feels pleasure with a nearing episode and yet it feels sorry for me too. I stare into the dark night’s sky wishing this episode would pass me by for once. So hopeful in my suffering. Now that is blind faith. Ridiculous as any other. I am but a shadow dancing through my life. And to be whole is but a dream.

Andrea
XO

Win a copy of my book to celebrate the 4 year anniversary of my first novel, Finding Alice!

Win a copy of my book to celebrate the 4 year anniversary of my first novel, Finding Alice!

I can’t believe it has been 4 years since I first published Finding Alice! In a few short months the original first edition of Finding Alice will be pulled from the shelves and replaced with the newly edited version. For now, let’s just remember how far Alice has come. Honestly, how far I have come for that matter. Here’s a little giveaway in honor of Alice. Sometimes, I think I knew her better than I ever knew myself.

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Surviving with a Bipolar disorder diagnosis

Surviving with a Bipolar disorder diagnosis
I am not my illness. No matter how many disorders they slap on my chart, they do not define me. They do not own me. I can only take care of myself the best I can and hope for a little compassion on days it’s hard to get out of bed. Having been diagnosed with Bipolar Type I disorder; rapid cycling, was horrifying initially, but also a huge relief. All of the hardships I had endured over the years at times where there was little wrong in my life finally had a reason, an answer to the question, what is wrong with me?
Simply, it is a chemical imbalance in the brain that greatly affects mood and behavior. With extreme highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression.) It took three different doctors over the span of seventeen years to diagnose me correctly.
         Depression with or without the bipolar component is no laughing matter. It drags you down by your ankles and holds you under water. You may feel as if you’re drowning but it won’t seem to end and you want it to desperately.
I will tell you from experience, “Why can’t you just be happy?” Is the cruelest sentence one human being can say to someone who suffers from depression. We do suffer. To me, it has its own identity living inside of me. I call it, the Darkness. Similar to Dexter’s Dark Passenger, I suppose. (Except for the entire murder part of course.) I don’t know if labeling it is healthy for everyone or not but it gave me some power over it.
Every human being is unique therefor no treatment is one size fits all. Don’t give up hope.  I suffered without treatment for fourteen years. It took three years of treatment and a lot of trial and error to find what worked for me.  Finding a psychiatrist I could feel comfortable with and trust was the biggest step in my recovery. Though I should use the term maintenance as all people who suffer from bipolar disorder will in fact relapse. (This is not failure. Pick yourself back up and keep trying to feel better, to be better.) With proper treatment, often through medications (commonly a combination of mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and “talk” therapy,) these relapses can be less often and less intense in nature. There are many treatments out there. The key is working with your doctor to find what works for you, as not all will. I personally work with an Integrative Holistic Psychiatrist, (combination of alternative and conventional care.) For me this was the only thing that worked. Stay strong.

Remember, you are not alone. I am not alone. Say it with me.