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, February 15, 2009

Is this bipolar?

Back to one of my pet peeves before my vacation begins.

I realize that bipolar is probably a spectrum of illnesses. I realize that bipolar I and II differ. But as someone with severe bipolar I, I question heavily the benefit of calling people mildly affected at the far end of the spectrum "bipolar".

To me, bipolar means that I will always take strong meds. True, I'm finally starting to be on less meds and celebrating this daily, but I earned this through 7 years of nearly losing myself. Only 2 years ago it looked as if life as I knew it (which pretty much sucked as it was) was about to get a lot worse as I ran out of treatment options very quickly. I did get my miracle and now I'm better than anyone ever thought I would be, but I will always live knowing that I potentially could get very sick again. I will always live with bipolar making things harder. Just the effect on my finances alone is very significant. It will always take a toll on my body, on how I even look, how I act, how I feel day to day, and what I am able to do. I'll probably never work 40 hours/week again; it's too much. Part of why I'm doing well is that I only work 32 hours/week. It's a huge blessing that I can manage this, but if I didn't have it I'd be a lot sicker than I am.

Earlier today I was reading about one of my favorite authors, Patricia Cornwell. On her webpage she says she is bipolar. She discusses it in the usual terms of increased creativity, etc. that feels like a bunch of baloney from my still-too-drugged to think as I used to mind. I think a lot of that goes more with BPII. And then she talks about how frustrating it is that when she is on mood stabilizers she is not allowed to fly helicopters.

"When"? My experiences make it absolutely impossible to feel like a version of this disease that allows you to sometimes be off mood stabilizers is REALLY the same thing. And frankly even in my improved state I'm GLAD nobody would let me fly anything: bipolar is not kind to thought processes and reaction times.

I understand that people with these lesser versions still suffer. But I feel like it does those of us with the full-blown thing a disservice to let people think we are in the same situation. We just aren't. There are fewer "truly" bipolar people, and it is very frustrating when so many people think they get what bipolar is because they know someone with a more minor subtype.

I really want them to re-name everything but bipolar I. After all, we used to be manic depressives. The names can change again.


otgirl said...

you make a valid point. I think it's a little trendy right now to have a name and a diagnosis for every quirky or difficult character trait.

Emilija said...

There is thinking that a large number of genes can contribute to having bipolar (many of which contribute to schizophrenia as well). People having different subsets of these genes proabably manifest differently, and some people are able to function with these ups and downs in their lives- or even thrive (or at least most of the time), but others experience more pathology. The current trend is to see bipolar as a spectrum.

JuliaG said...

Maybe there just need to be well-known descriptives? Like there is severe depression and mild and chronic -- and the really lame kind, like when you're friend really means "I'm so upset about XYZ" but instead says "I'm so depressed about XYZ" Grrr.

I do agree though. It's frustrating to have the same title as someone, yet have a totally different job description and pay scale and work load.