Who to tell?

I told my Manager in work a few months ago, my thinking being that 1) I sort of owed it to them 2) I would then be covered by the Disability Rights Act 3) if I had to have time off work I wouldn’t have to lie that I had a bug, or a sore foot, or plague.

But it took months of prevaricating before I finally found the strength to tell my 12 year old son. It was a difficult job, but I’m glad I did so, and it’s made things easier for both of us. He obviously suspected something was (medically) wrong with me. ‘Is that why you get annoyed about little things sometimes?’ Yes, indeed it is.

Very few people other than Mental Healthcare professionals know about my illness, even after 35+ years. Less than half a dozen, I should think.

And that’s why this anonymous talking I do here sporadically is so important to me. It’s almost entirely one-sided of course. I don’t know or talk with, in the real world, anyone else with bipolar. I never get to discuss it with anyone other than my therapist. And the psychiatrist on those 2 occasions; not that I’d feel comfortable telling her much. (See previous post.)

So if you’re reading this, if you’re following these posts of mine, I thank you; honestly, from my heart. It helps to know you’re there. You don’t know me, I don’t know you. You’re what my favourite band – Mew – calls ‘Frengers’: not quite friends but more than strangers.

Sometime I might disappear. Who knows. It’s my birthday tomorrow.

Been a long long..

Last post was ages ago. I was waiting for my Assessment meeting, hoping for diagnosis. Obviously that was overly optimistic, due to me knowing nothing of the system back then.

Things have changed a bit in the past 6 months.

I’m on Week 13 of CBT to address my anxiety (as opposed to my bipolar issues). It’s going ok, but it isn’t helping one iota with the lows, the highs, the suicidal thoughts, the despair. I learnt the general idea of CBT in no time; recognise one’s ‘bad thoughts’ and turn them into ‘good thoughts’. Theory’s great, isn’t it?!

Some other, scary, stuff has surfaced. Physical and psychological abuse going back to childhood, from my mother. Nothing sexual has surfaced.

I come out of some sessions exhausted. Sometimes they trigger hypomanic episodes.

I’ve seen the psychiatrist twice. I almost walked out that first time; she was arrogant, unprofessional (imho), confrontational, unhelpful and with no empathy whatsoever. She told me there was no chance of getting a diagnosis; there were only a few doctors in the Authority assigned to such a thing and thousands waiting for diagnosis already.

She wrote down the names of 4 medications and suggested I go home and Google them to see which one I fancied trying (yes, really). Lithium… hmm, don’t think so. Quetiapine… I think not. At the end of the day I have to get up early and go to work, do that job whilst alert, and more importantly keep that job and not spend months at a time ‘on the sick’ for fear of losing that job. I’m a single parent 50% of the time too.

Same goes for treating my chronic insomnia (I haven’t slept right through the night even once in 20 years); I have to get up at 6.30am for work or the school run. Sleeping tablets aren’t conducive to such social commitments.

So at our 2nd meeting I had to decline the offer of medication for my (undiagnosed) bipolar II. And go with the CBT for now. After all, I’m still alive after a lifetime of this illness. And as the psychiatrist said, I shouldn’t have such a strong work ethic, should I?

I contacted MIND to see what courses and support it could give me. As with the ‘system’, those of us who fight to hold down a job aren’t catered for; the courses happen during office hours, on the whole.

When the CBT ends, which of course it will do, I’ll be dealing with this again with no treatment or support. As if the past year+ of seeking treatment and support has never existed.

Who knows what the answer is? I’m not even certain of the question.

Where do I end and my bipolar disorder begin?

Bipolar Whispers

Being bipolar means I am a mixture of several different things at once.  But doesn’t being a person without a mental illness mean the same thing?  Where do we begin to know which aspects of ourselves are who we are or what aspects are the mental illness taking over?  Where do I end and my bipolar disorder begin?  Or my other diagnoses begin?  Maybe there is a fine line between them.

Some things are obvious.  I know anxiety is a part of my mental illness.  I understand that once I feel the familiar squeeze of my heart, the butterflies fluttering, all trying to escape the cocoon at the same time, while my heart is skipping a beat and a weight is squarely on my chest.  Even though in the moment I feel so bad, I know this is part of my mental illness and I know it will pass.  Even…

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