Had my weekly session with my therapist last night. First, I have to say that she is the best therapist I’ve ever seen. She’s compassionate, insightful and I have to solely credit her with finally arriving at the correct diagnosis.
As in any relationship, there are times in this one when we don’t see eye to eye. We’ve had an ongoing dialogue about what a bipolar diagnosis does to one’s identity. I’m afraid this time, we’re going to have to agree to disagree.
My therapist keeps trying to tell me that I am no different than I was before the bipolar diagnosis. I keep trying to tell her that I am, because now my entire world is forever colored by these BP diagnosis glasses I can never take off. True, I have been BP most of my life and I cannot really remember what it is like to be free from wondering if a day will be good or bad based on the mood-of-the-moment.
Since the diagnosis, there is no denying I do see and experience the world differently. I never used to wonder if the pharmacist was having unprofessional thoughts when picking up my migraine med. But I sure do now that I’m signing for antipsychotics. I never used to wonder what shopkeepers’ experiences with me were. But, now I wonder if my interactions with others are perceived as ‘normal.’ And, because last summer’s hypomania resulted in some really dumb behavior, these days, every time I make a decision, I am always questioning my judgment.
Personally, I think living in a perpetual state of behavior questioning is one of the hardest parts of living with this affliction. It just takes so much energy.
There is an upside to BP, too. I’ve accomplished many things in my life that make people say, ‘wow!’ Could I have been such a blatant overachiever if I weren’t hypomanic at the time? Probably not. Being Touched with Fire has certainly served me well over the years. So, today, when I am being productive the question becomes, “Am I being productive or hypomanic?” Indeed, there’s lots of energy spent questioning.
For someone who is not bipolar, I don’t think they can ever fully appreciate how self-conscious and sometimes paranoid a BD diagnosis can make a person. Really, all I’m trying to bring to light with this post is we BPs need a bit of empathy and understanding. Because from the moment one learns they have an incurable ‘disease,’ the world is changed forever.
Does needing a handful of pills to survive make me less of a person? No. But it sure does make me a different person than I was before being taken hostage by a daily handful of antipsychotic / antidepressant medication.