Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I'm discovering that I have a real issue with something fairly stupid. I don't particularly want to be in the end of the bipolar spectrum where I'm at the high end for severity and functioning. I'm an outlier and I'd really rather not be. It took me a long time to accept that. Yet I have to keep it in mind because there is a lot of the time I have to remember that yes, I can function, or I have to remember that I actually am very sick a great deal of the time and when I am sick I am too sick to do some things. I've tried to develop a layer of pride around all of this because the truth is that my succeeding is something to be proud of. I don't hold back from giving credit to the people who have treated me or helped me along the way, so I also need to be proud of myself. (My psychologist would have a heart attack if he heard me say that).

This can however cause problems. I know there are people worse off than I am. I also know there are people who think they understand what my life is like and they don't. I struggle with this from outsiders and also from people with different diagnoses on the BP spectrum. I'm certain that there are aspects of my own illness I don't realize how fortunate I am to have. I am very aware of the benefit of having the treatment team I have. I know how rare it is to have a psychiatrist who is willing to spend over an hour a month on a Saturday, plus many emails during the month, in an attempt to stabilize me. I have a good psychologist and have been going to the same counseling center for so long that I have absolutely no doubt it is the best for me.

Having said this, I have developed that same kind of dull pain that is like a toothache in response to certain reactions. Partly this is because of someone in my real life who has cyclothymia who tries to tell me how I should alter my meds and how she is much sicker than I am. By nature cyclothymia isn't BPI; if it were they wouldn't be 2 things. All it takes is a look at my med list to see my treatment hasn't been typical. When my doctor had paper charts mine didn't even get filed because it was needed so often. My bad med reactions overflow the major university hospital's computer program. I am very ill much more than I am well, even with taking meds like candy.

For a long time after I was diagnosed I tried to shove myself into other categories. I was very upset to hear "bipolar I" because I WANTED to be bipolar II. I freaked out when told I had mixed episodes, even though I knew perfectly well I did. I guess this follows fairly well my history of positively refusing to consider the diagnosis, then I wanted it to be mild.

After I came to terms with it though, now I have this bruised fruit sensitivity to the words that mean someone else's experience is level with mine even if I have a ghost of a doubt it's true. I have some kind of weird qualifier system in my head that wants to determine if someone is well enough qualified to "really" understand. It's not fair of me and it's partly just my way of being oh-so-angry about the course my illness has taken.

The whole thing is especially stupid given that I really do believe everyone has a right to their own pain and I have no desire to compete. It's just that knowing I'm in the "really badly affected" group, the group of people my doctor who mainly works with very involved patients calls her "very fragile" group, annoys me. Which then makes me want to take that out on anyone who tries to make themselves seem this sick because to me it is something I so deeply don't want. I know though, even though I may never say it again, that even bipolar that is much, much less complicated and symptomatic than mine is still horrible. And it could be even worse for me. I must always remember that.


Jon said...

You have the right to be irritated with advice from people who couldn't begin to walk a mile in your shoes. It's not an easy concept to grasp, that it hits no 2 people the same way.

This is YOUR blog, it's YOUR therapy, so say what's on your mind. And more power to you for doing it.

Just Me said...

True. I'm just pretty unfair because I want to forget that I actually have managed to adjust to the severity of my illness very well and really don't havev a right to be frustrated when someone else hasn't. I don't think my adjustment has a lot to do with me; I think it's got a lot to do with my support system and my general personality It's not anyone's fault that they respond differently, and to them what is a good day for me is terrible sometimes. They still deserve recognition that terrible is terrible.

Emilija said...

I don't pay too much attention to type I, type II, type III (proposed). All bipolars are different, are current catagorizations don't work very well. For instance, dysphoric and mixed hypomanias are not permitted under the current system, but I certainly get them. Some studies find people with bipolar II more disabled over their lifespan than bipolar I's. I think there are no clear categories, if there were there would be clear-cut medications to use that would work in all people if you had the diagnosis right. But it is too easy to generalize from yourself to someone else, so if you manage to survive a "mild case" it is easy to think that others with the same diagnosis should be able to do the same. It took me 15 years to find the right meds, but I finally did, as did a few of my friends after many years of trials, so I tend to think that the "right meds" are out there for everyone, if they just keep trying (and they have creative psychiatrists who aren't afraid to keep trying new things). But I realize that this is just my experience, and I'm sure it is untrue. There are many people, including psychiatrists, who told me there was nothing more to be done, so I am very worried when people start to think that they are hopeless.