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

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Michal asked on the last post if a new treatment came for my birthmark would I do it.  I said no.  No thought, no hesitation, just no.

Which has made me think a lot tonight.  I'm gathering stuff for morning,trying to gauge how much sleep I need and how much paperwork can be left over for morning to still make my early meeting and taking my handful of pills and reading the email sent to Dr. Brain that is going to require input from the makers of my medication on whether allergy shots are safe for me if they are recommended.  (long story short:  with the first bunch of allergy shots and then at intervals as things are changed (if I understand this correctly which I probably don't since I've done no reading) they have to be really careful you don't have an excessive reaction.  If you do you'll get an epipen shot and be fine.  However, I can't have epinephrine.  So now we're trying to figure out what happens if I need a small amount.

That led to the thought of I wouldn't change my birth defect.  I don't know myself without it. But what about my bipolar disorder?  If it could be gone tomorrow, or in a month or even in a year would I get rid of it?  Part of me shouts YES.  Part of me says, more quietly, No.  Bipolar makes everything hard.  It makes me live abnormally and it often hurts me.  However like my birthmark it is something I believe always has been with me.  I believe it was  the beginnings of this illness when I cried relentlessly and did not sleep as a tiny infant for 8 months.  I believe it was the illness growing when I was "overly sensitive" as a young child.  Have I ever admitted that I have never seen all of the Wizard of Oz, gone anywhere near Old Yeller, and had a long list of movies I wasn't allowed to see as a child b/c they upset me?  I can't think of any others, but there were a number.  Things are exacerbated by the abuse, but I had characteristics of bipolar from the day I was born.  Many of those characteristics were in sensory integration issues, again hard to know what is bipolar and what is abuse.  When I remember being a child, besides the fear and disgust and abuse related stuff, I remember anger.   I hid it most of the time, sat on it well because it was dangerous not to, but it was there, always.  It popped out sometimes  and I was able to hurt people with anger/rage.  Mostly it came out in my diary until my father read that.  The rage then grew inside me for years, pretty much until the last year or so when I started to be able to say to Dr. Mind that I was angry about this or that happening.

I wish I did not remember that sad, hurt,  confused, raging angry child, but I do and that tells me how deeply bipolar runs in me. In effect, bipolar is part of my past and present. It is very different now than a few years ago, but it still has the power to knock me to my knees or flatten me in bed or make me cry without knowing why.  Bipolar makes me feel everything more and that can been good or bad. Bipolar has changed my outlook on life.  In some ways it has made me a better person; in others it has made me everything I don't want to be.  It has taken things that I miss greatly; more than anything I miss the incredibly fast, ironic sense of humor I had once that is now tamed by meds, age,  and unclear thought processes where I can be aware of my funny response but by the time it comes out it's not funny.

As odd as it sounds bipolar is sometimes a security blanket, a reason to accept the differences in my that aren't always the fault of the disorder.  It is an explanation, something that lets me know that the things that are damaged in me are not only because I was abused.  It lets me know that I'm not just a misfit as I thought for 25 years.  It lets me accept things that have no connection to bipolar either; after you learn to accept that you are at times going to say or do awful things that you can't control it becomes much easier to accept smaller things about yourself that you dislike, like in my case shyness.

Bipolar has taught me a lot and while some of it is not very useful unless you are mentally ill, some of it is really good to know in the course of life.  I have become a good advocate for myself and am able to negotiate a tricky healthcare system because I had to learn.  I have learned to fight for what I need and to insist that I make the decisions about my own body.  For someone with my past that is HUGE.   I've not mastered that yet, but for me to have any ability in that area is a very big deal.  I have learned to accept my very less than perfect self.  I've learned to be angry at my circumstances and yet able to hold onto faith.  I've learned to listen to my intuitions and to monitor my body and mind.  I've learned to be strong.  Bipolar has taught me trust, because I've had to trust to survive.

In many ways bipolar has made me who I am.  That has both good and bad parts, although 5 years ago I would have said it was all bad, that bipolar had taken who I wanted to be and all the dreams I had and thrown them away.  But now I know those were just dreams, dreams that weren't meant to happen.  And I can live with that because there are other things in my life now.

So I don't think I'd give up this disease now.  If I could erase time and never have gotten the wrong genes, the wrong parents, the wrong environment to grow up in then I would certainly choose to not have this, but since I do have to live with it I have accepted it so much that I can't imagine living without it.  It has made my life complicated and unusual, and without it I would have a lot more free time and money, but those things have never been there because I've always had huge medical bills and I've been doing the 1-2 times/week counseling plus monthly psychiatrist visit for so long I can't remember it not being part of my life.  That's partially because I've been doing it since I moved here and so it's part of life as I know it in these 8 years here.

I never thought I'd say that.......


Anonymous said...

Wow, Jen! What an amazing post. Thank your for the deep answer. I'll be re-reading it.

Love and prayers, Michal

"Google" still won't accept me...I've re-set my password several times but it keeps me running around in a fruitless circle...

Jean Grey said...

You put very well some of the things I feel. I can't know who the person is I would be if I had not had this disorder, so I don't know if I would want to be her. I only know me. But sometimes I also think, God, I've learned what I can from this disease, I don't need to have anymore depressions or manias please!

Just me said...

Jean-Very, very good point about having learned enough. Your right, ever episode has lessons, some of them very stupid ones like "manic people leave towels on burners then turn the burner on"; "paying bills is not optional"; "do you really want 2 kittens when you are really sick and not diagnosed"; "no using carpet knives when really shaky and with no sleep in days or the psychologist will take it from you"; "never yell at someone who wants to hospitalize you or those pink papers come out really fast" (note, not Dr. Brain).I guess it is good to know those things???