Dear Loyal Readers: (All 47 of you. Three new followers. I’m so popular.)
I saw my psychiatrist. He spent 50 very thorough minutes with me. We reviewed all my blood work, which course proved I’m a specimen (speciwoman for those feminists) of excellent health. Thyroid panel, vitamin panel, and hormone panel all within acceptable ranges, which made me cry again. Why? Because you cannot objectively measure crazy in 2019.
Don’t get me wrong. The negative results still provide an answer: “It’s all in my head.” However, there’s something comforting in being able to “see” your sickness. In a previous post, I spoke about wishing for a “legitimate” illness, something scientifically proven and not deemed true subjectively from a list of symptoms. For some reason, that is more acceptable, more real, for me.
Having an episode in June does not follow my regular pattern. So what do I mean by pattern of bipolar? For this metaphor, I’ll flashback to how the doctor described bipolar to my family and a very drugged Jen 13 years ago. Remember the special lined paper you used in elementary school when you learned to write the alphabet? Each row had a solid blue line on top, a dotted line in the middle, and another solid blue line on the bottom.
The top line symbolizes hypomania, the dotted line “normal,” and the bottom line super sadness. Most people’s mood (or unbroken pencil line, keeping with the metaphor) rises and falls through out the year gently above and below the dotted line. A large portion of the time, I do, too.
However, during hypomania, the pencil line touches the top line, and for mania it rises above the top line. The higher the rise, the more symptoms of mania and the harder the fall to “normalcy” or even some times to depression. For depression, the pencil line touches to the bottom line. Suicidal ideations surpass the bottom line, and for suicide the pencil line falls off the bottom of the paper. I guess you could say bipolar people color outside the lines. When the pencil line goes outside the solid blue lines, it’s called an episode.
Each person is different, but I tend to rise and fall outside the lines around the change of seasons. Hence, by May and June, I’m usually back to fluctuating above and below the dotted line. This episode is not only out of season, but it’s out of characteristic. I kept saying to my family and friends, “This one is weird. I feel differently. I don’t understand.”
The psychiatrist claims I’m experiencing what is called a “mixed” episode. Long ago when life was simpler, my mental illness was called manic depressive. As time progressed, bipolar disease or disorder was coined perhaps to make the illness more socially acceptable and not so “crazy” sounding. That’s my uneducated, unresearched opinion. (I prefer disorder. Sounds less contagious.) Eventually bipolar morphed into two types, BP 1 and BP 2, and there more than two kinds of episodes.
From the little research I’ve done thus far, a mixed episode is when the two extremes, mania and depression, overlap each other with one playing a more dominant roll over the other. So how do I explain that in terms of my blue lines and pencil line? I have no clue. Send me a comment if you have ideas.
What I do know is I have added a medication and need to rest. I’m relieved I have an answer, but the solution and resolution will take time. In the next two weeks, I will get sicker or stay the same or get better. Let’s hope the latter prevails.
I’m the meantime, I’ll have a mixed drink and a handful of mixed nuts to go with my mixed episode. If I can’t beat, I’ll just enjoy it.