Post inspired by Daily Post writing prompt:
“Take a complicated subject you know more about than most people, and explain it to a friend who knows nothing about it at all.”
First I would like to take a moment here to distinguish the term I prefer, disorder, over other terms such as, illness or disease. Dis•order; noun. 1. Lack of order or regular arrangement, confusion. Ill•ness; noun. 1. unhealthy condition; poor health; indisposition; sickness. Dis•ease; noun. 1. any deviation from or interruption of the normal structure or function of any body part, organ, or system that is manifested by a characteristic set of symptoms and signs and whose etiology, pathology, and prognosis may be known or unknown.
In my humble (OK, maybe a bit boastful) belief, I think of mental disorders as simply that; a disorder. Our brain works slightly different than the norm. Would some people think I’m fooling myself and wearing rose colored glasses? I wouldn’t be surprised. It is ingrained in our society to believe that people whom have disordered brains are sick, ill, diseased, etc. Our prognosis being nil to none; our treatments severe and sometimes worst than the actual disorder. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that we were locked in psych wards, fed massive amounts of psychotropic drugs and having our frontal lobes removed (the history of lobotomies is quite interesting, though).
Terms like insane, crazy, cuckoo, loony; all with negative connotations. Mental disorders are not that, we are not imbeciles or vile creatures; the criminally insane being the exception, but I think anyone that kills someone not out of defense of themselves or another is a little deranged.
My disorder is called Bipolar Disorder, or manic-depressive, which honestly to me I don’t know why they changed it. Probably one of those Pop Psych ideas. Bipolar is kind of like the world, it runs on one axis with a North Pole and a South Pole—mania and depression. To me, that pretty much explains normality, but who am I to judge. There is Unipolar Depression (pop psych) where they really only have a South Pole and need medications and therapy to reach the equator. (North Pole is referencing Mania if I haven’t made myself clear.)
Mania can be quite a fantastical ride, if not too high. You’re happy, the world is at your feet, you can do anything. You are at your most productive. In example, you can do in a week what most people take a month to complete. This is actually why Bipolar Disorder is one of the hardest mental disorders to treat, we don’t want to let go of the high. I’m actually at a point in my medication cocktail where some Bipolars (not afraid of their pdocs—he would literally freak out and fire me; giving me a document to sign so he’s not responsible if I kill myself or something) would jump off the med wagon thinking it will be all good. They’re cured and if not, who cares, they want that high. A lot of times only when we’re stuck in the South Pole do we reach out for help.
Where mania becomes dangerous is when you ride it too long and are so creative and productive you forget to sleep and then BAM! you’re delusional, snappy, mean (to say the least). You hear things that aren’t there. Can be in a restaurant thinking everyone in the room is having conversations about you. Feel as if you are being followed by all the cars around you and that they can hear you. It’s true paranoia and psychosis. When you are in it you are so confused and scared and you don’t trust a single soul—not even yourself. You physically and mentally become overwhelmed by any noises whether it’s the radio, someone trying to talk to you, the rain on the window. That’s when your brain is broken and the ones you love you hope it can become unbroken. I went through psychosis twice; once in 2007/8 and again in 2011/12.
This is where now the new manual on mental disorders is changing (DSM-V). Because of my two psychosis’ I could have been considered Schizophrenic. Now though, for some reason, they are realizing there is a form of Bipolar Disorder 1 (what I have) that mania can turn into psychosis therefore making it kind of the most severe form of BD. Namely, I will have to stay on my medications for the rest of my life. Relapses are very prone to happen for me. & it may not be the same medications or cocktail as treating mental disorders is more of an art than a science.
My Disorder doesn’t rule my life because it’s not who I am. It’s what I have. I control it, it doesn’t control or define me. If it did than strangers would pick up on it without me having to tell them. “Oh, you there have Bipolar characteristics and traits. Good to meet you.” No. I am nice, quick witted, combative, literate, intelligent, and honestly sometimes boastful. I can be mean, argumentative, negative, uncooperative, messy, disorganized, absent minded, and too honest.
My name is Sarah. Not Bipolar. Any questions?