My bipolar diagnosis scared me because it meant I was not in control of my mind. I was told that only medication could stabilize me and prevent cycling into another mixed state episode. The basics were discussed such as no alcohol, caffeine and a regulated sleep schedule. Apparently, sleep plays a significant role in bipolar cycles. The sleep schedule seemed doable but no alcohol? I was a hypomanic party girl after all. How do I change this part of me that was so cherished and prominent.
To others, it sounds simple-stop partying. Not so easy. I was raised by a hypomanic party father. Partying is not just drinking, it is a lifestyle, a frame of mind and a kind of social group you pick to be around. This was my identity. If I’m not in this lifestyle, then what other lifestyle is there? The non party lifestyle I suppose, but I have seen that, and it seems so unappealing.
My first medication treatment kept my mood and energy even during the first month; yet, I started to become uncomfortable at the thought of my moods and energy being unnatural. If my moods and energy are unnatural then is my self unnatural too? This question plagued me. The doctor recommended that I mourn hypomanic party girl through the 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Acceptance? Acceptance and then what? To become what? Fear of the unknown set in.
The first time I didn’t make it through bargaining. I bargained my medication away and decided that if I just stayed clear of all the triggers and slept well then I would be fine. No cycling could possibly occur. I would stay in my zone. Mental health problem cured.
I started monitoring my mood on a mood app and journalizing, sleeping well, taking supplements and abstaining from alcohol. But the old lifestyle return. One drink here and there. It’s all good, right? The one thing I can’t control are my business travels and here became my downfall. Lack of sleep and now in Washington, DC and a willing to drink my sworn enemy: red wine. It quicklyunraveled from there. I fell into a full mixed state and hurt someone very dear to me.
I stayed awake and only drank coffee for 60 hours and became exhausted. However, bipolar people are not weak. We still can maintain an inner mental strength. We have to right? It not easy being hypomanic bipolar. My mental strength got me through once again. I successfully finished an important business conference and was able to interact in a stable manner with those around me. Even in the middle of this depression and kiss goodbye to hypomanic party girl, the intensity of my love for my life remained.
I went out with my business group and of course hypomanic party girl still wanted to play through the tears. Since I was intermittently crying throughout the day, my black eyeliner was smeared around my eyes, lipstick applied sloppily, and my hair disheveled. I looked like a beautiful wreck. One of the men came on to me hard because some men can smell and see crazy, and they like it. It made me feel so good that for a second I thought about sleeping with him. To just feel someone against me and escape my tragedy. Because I knew I was going home to no one after what I had done to my friend during the last episode. I backed down and excused myself politely.
Because I forced my hand, I was done bargaining and entered depression for 5 days over my last episode and this entire diagnosis. Through the week, I cried and ruminated about my life. My life flashed before me. I remembered myself from little girl up until present and thought of all the people I loved, and hurt, all my adventures and experiences. I tried to soak them in and focused on seeing my face in all these memories and looked at myself from afar. How beautiful and kind I was and am. Images of me laughing, smiling and all the good with the bad. My guilt and shame for the hurt I had caused had no depth or darkness because the pain I caused others is not and will never be lost on me. If I could take all their pain away from what I did or said, I would. It was a long week of self reflection and this blog is the acceptance. When I returned home, I couldn’t wait to get on medication. I no longer have a fear of the unknown future because the unknown future is here, now.