Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.
It is a rare treat for me to be able to indulge in immersive nostalgia. Here I sit listening to cheesy music from my teenage years, remembering heady days of debaucherous fun and frolic. The reason this is a pleasure I often avoid is that, as I have become more self aware, I remember times that I have exhibitted extreme(ly poor) behaviour.
My understanding of the full ramifications of being Bipolar is in its infancy. Thinking of the past too much throws up a plethora of examples of my wrong thinking and, sadly, reminds me of friendships that have expired because of my upper-paleolithic attitudes to loyalty and friendship.
Projecting perceived slights and insults onto friends has lead to serious social injury in my past. I can think of at least five occasions where I have cut off a good friend without giving them a second look because the negative white-noise in my mind had begun looping around an insult, privately reserved among various conspirators for my denigration. Once I had begun to obsess about a perceived slight it rarely ended but one way. I would completely cut someone off and flatly refuse to have anything more to do with them.
The concerning thing for me is the frequency at which I have quelled this particular kind of emotional rebellion since my diagnosis. If this happened at a similar frequency through my history, then I’ve wronged a lot of people for no reason.
Herein lies a lesson for me though. Considering mistakes made under a cloud of mental illness before I even KNEW I was ill is a complete waste of time. Guilt is the real mind-slayer for me and assessing times that I’ve behaved poorly regardless of reasoning is a redundant exercise. It benefits no one and will actively cause fresh trauma for me.
My current housemate has cut me to the quick in some of my ramblings about how badly behaved I’ve been in the past. Her single sentence of review for my guilt-inducing binges is as follows:
“It is in the past and you were sick, simple!”
It really is actually that simple as well. Today for the first time in I don’t know how long I can sit listening to music and remembering good times with friends (even lost friends and relationships) without collapsing into a puddle of guilt and paranoia.
What is the point in me telling you all this? Primarily – Stick with your search for the right medication and the right dosage. Do not settle for sub-clinical dosages. I am absolutely convinced that the medication I’m now on (Quetiapine Fumerate as Seroquel, 600mg/day) is giving me the distance from these thoughts that I need to consciously assess them before they wreak emotional havok.
Once you admit to yourself that you have a medical condition that requires chemical intervention, you simply must follow the logic through to its conclusion. SOME medication WILL work for you, it is just about finding the right chemical and the right dosage. Your brain chemistry may not be a mirror image of the mainstream, but it certainly hasn’t deviated so drastically from all of humanity that the drugs that work for some of us won’t work at all for you. Stick with it, and demand that your G.P grows a set of big, brass balls and puts you on a decent dose.
Best of luck!