So I was on my own couch this morning, waking up and waiting for my lift to the therapist’s couch (fail, it’s an armchair) and I started this post with absolutely no end goal. It meandered along, doing its own thing. I’m up and down like a rentboy’s boxers today, so if it’s all fractured and nonsensical, fear not, I feel that feel too.
Here’s yer song for today, it has zero relevance, it’s just a song (particularly this version of it) that I love to bits. Take it away Dre.
I’ve seen a few blogs lately, where people have said they’ve been diagnosed with ‘bipolar and depression’. I thought that depression, when present, was simply included in the bipolar fun-bundle? That said, there seem to be a lot of diagnostic inconsistencies, and I assume it’s because there are many descriptors that are very close. I read a post about the difference between mixed episodes and rapid cycling, for example, which seemed like comparing apples and pears to me. Cycling describes frequency, mixed describes moods – yes it covers their frequency too, but a mixed episode is just one aspect of bipolar, the frequency of shifts within them doesn’t necessarily match those of hypomania or mania, or depression. I know that bipolar is a right royal bastard to diagnose, but it would help if they’d stop shifting the goalposts. Some of the changes appear to be DSM idiocy, rather than research based facts.
‘Bipolar is manageable,’ is in all the handouts, but when you start reading, rather few of us feel that our bipolar is managed. Celebrities tend to claim they’re cool or cured (except the king and Queen of bipolar, Stephen and Carrie), but aren’t they saying that to protect their images and careers? We might say it in job interviews too, but then we go undercover and weep online. Well, I do anyway. ‘Don’t worry,’ I was told, ‘the difficulties with reading, writing and memory will come right when the meds do’. Yet I prowl blogs and very soon I think the professionals are softsoaping me and whitewashing bipolar, in order to keep my chin up and my wrists from being sliced.
Personally, I’d rather people used the same ‘recovery’ criteria as they do for grief. It’s there, it’ll always be there; you might be able to manage it, but there is absolutely no guarantee. Side effects of medication often feel way worse than mood shifts. The suicide stats are alarmingly high and so the disorder should be treated far more seriously. There is no recovery; people using ‘recovery’ and ‘chronic illness’ in the same breath, are using words inaccurately. I’d rather be told that there are potentially lethal consequences, than feel inadequate because my experience doesn’t fit in with the whole positive thinking, gung ho spin. Realist doesn’t equal pessimist.
‘I’ll make sure you’ll live till you’re 90,’ said one medical professional, and I thought, ‘dear god, no, why would anyone wish that on me?’ And I’m not even a suicide risk. Another 40 plus years of this crap, along with the physical and mental lasting damage that goes with it? Fuck the fuck right off. I’ve had a few days of hypomania recently, and before it hurtled into mania, it was the best time I’d had in a year or so. I’m 44 and much of my life has been that way and it’s hard. ‘We can do hard things,’ quoth Alan Packer, ‘it’s the impossible that takes a little longer.’ more bs, frankly. We can do hard things and thank fuck for that fact, but if we describe things we can do with more difficulty as impossible, then we’re treating ourselves like imbeciles with no command of our own damn language. I guess he raided this for it anyway.
Yet again I shall quote Queen Carrie…
“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking
Well said (and do not get pissy about the soldier comparison unless you’re a bipolar soldier – which isn’t ideal, since they don’t like bipolars in this man’s army), I wish everyone would read and believe that quote.
Please do not assume that because you have brains, that you understand our brains. It’s like the difference between watching a wildlife documentary on the Discovery Channel, and standing unarmed, face to face with a lion. I mean it. I know that we have moods and that you do too, but their cause and experience are so far from yours. We usually don’t understand your moods either, by the way. Know thyself, babies, and let us teach you about bipolar, rather than the other way around. Don’t be so arrogant until you get your PhD in psychiatry, mkay? (That rant was caused by a blog post that none of you wrote, that irked me.)
I think the notion of beating bipolar causes more feelings of inadequacy than it inspires focus and determination, because it’s a lie. To plagiarise a cliché, if you can’t beat it, join it. Learn to live with the monster, using every single tool at your disposal. Aim for a good remission, which although it could very well be finite, is both positive and possible. I’d rather not feel as though I’m failing to make the grade, thanks very much; it’s that kind of thing that causes despair and we know the places despair tends to go. Some things are improving for me, and some are on the decline. Let’s be straightforward in dealing with that please.
People are all entitled to their perceptions and misconceptions, a willingness to learn would be great, but professionals who take money for treatment and medication, or wind chimes and snake oil, are bloody well not entitled to any of that. They need to listen to us, their patients and consumers, their clients and all too often, their victims. We can’t do their jobs, but we can see as hell help – and I reckon we’d all be incredibly motivated to do so. I don’t want to feel like an unstable failure, I want to feel like a human being with stuff to be treated for and worked on.
Let’s go and yell at people about it, who’s with me? And by ‘yell’, I mean ‘be heard’. Simple as that.
Some other time though, the latest hypo phase just ended and now I’m