Bipolar Disorder One has been both the bane of my existence and the luscious delight that does not quench my thirst. I was first diagnosed with the disorder when I was 19 during a clinical trial for an anti-depressant called Duloxetine. It was decided after I volunteered for the long term effects of the medication to evacuate me after 8 months because I was reacting with mania, unlike the other participants.
This was in 2004. It was not a very difficult process to diagnose me because I had been fairly insightful for several years by that time, and I had a wonderful support system with the clinical team who were conducting the anti-depressant experiment. However, there were times that I was feeling SO good that it was not realistic. I suffered from excessive and creative thinking, and I was writing and writing and writing all of the time; I was delusional to the point I was researching something repetitively. It was honestly, very unhealthy.
There were times I would not sleep very much and in some cases I might have gotten a full night’s sleep worth of eight hours during the course of a week. At one point I began running because I was angry from being hurt by someone I cared about, and began running to maybe join the military. I went from doing absolutely nothing to running 5kms a day within two weeks. Some might think that this is not a huge jump. Yet, this was a different kind of mental state. I was not doing it to really get in shape, I was driven by excessive mental and physical energy. Needless to say, by the time two weeks had passed I had exerted my body so much I had several bruises on my calves from the shock I put my body through.
As a result of my disorder I have endured the standard stigma and negative names as being “crazy” and “off my rocker”, right up to being judged as “trying too hard”, “creepy”, “too talkative”, and other things that are not appropriate to say. I’ve had people demean my character and tear me to shreds with being called immature, and that I am a terrible person. Some other incidents in a vague description would be that others have misunderstood my confusion from abuse as being insane and someone conducting head games.
The effects of medications can alter someone’s states and traits, and I feel that this is something that the general public can overlook and/or forget about. If I have any advice to offer it is to keep those close who treat you well. Avoid those who are nasty, sarcastic, alienate, ignore or treat you like second best. At the same time, you need to be responsible with your health by monitoring your moods, practicing self-reflection and taking ownership for your behavior.
Hang in there, maintenance is possible.
Natalie Gillis, B.A., PGC
Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (in progress)