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Bipolar first, person second


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Hey all,

Does anyone else go through periods where their MI feels like the biggest part of them?

I was in partial remission for a few years prior to last summer. I had swings, but I could manage them. I could spot my warning signs and react in time to avoid anything too drastic. I could struggle through depression without missing work, and going hypo was, frankly, fantastic.

Then I started getting mixed states. I have absolutely no idea of how to handle them. I never used to get them. At least, not very bad ones. All those worst sides of both states swirl together and bounce around in my head until I can't take it anymore. I've missed almost half of my shifts at work this month (with acceptable excuses so far), and my friends and coworkers are taking notice (although the friends that actually know what's going on with me are all pretending nothing is wrong). I'm sure many of you know what I'm talking about, but this is still pretty new for me. Even before the partial remission, when I was swinging hard and fast, I was always one or the other.

I'm new to these boards, so I apologize if I'm getting longwinded with the backstory. My point here is: during the last few, relatively peaceful years, I've kind of put my MI on the back burner. I was always aware of my condition, but it wasn't a central theme. It was more like a food allergy to me. I was constantly checking labels, and inspecting what I ate, but it was never who I was.

It is who I am right now. It feels like the disease took over. I'm somewhere in the back of my head, watching this thing control all of my actions and all of my words. It is the first thing I have to consider when I try to make any choices at all.

Does this happen to any of you? Has anyone felt like they've changed from a person with bipolar disorder, and become bipolar disorder inhabiting a shell? I feel like it is the only thing people can see in me right now. Like this is what I really am, and the rest is just dressing.

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Thanks.

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I've learned to treat my bp like I did my diabetes, long ago. It's there and always will be, and sometimes it'll be just a shadow on the horizon and sometimes it'll be a Godawful solar flare burning away everything else.

It's me, it defines me, but dammit I define it too. It's a wrasslin' match, as Grampa used to say. One I don't aim to lose. Now, both the diabetes and the bp have nearly killed me but fuck 'em both they ain't yet and I I'm not about to let 'em.

It's MY life. I have to define it. But yeah, sometimes my life has to be forcibly redefined. Then I have to define it back. Wrasslin'.

Maybe I'm just an ornery sunnuvabitch (sorry mom). But I know there's this thing inside that wants...well it wants just to to get out and raise major hell. And the only one raisin' hell here is ME and on MY terms so that bp bitch just better shut the fuck up, sorta thing.

Of course I pummel my brain with meds but that's why God invented antipsychotics IMO. For the bad times.

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Welcome!

In 2005 (and to a lesser extent 2004 and 2006) it took over. It was basically me. It was interfering with my life so severely that there wasn't much else going on.

My psychiatrist and I gradually developed a better cocktail, and I gradually started having a life that was about the things I did, not about the bipolar. It's still there but it's an unwanted-but-manageable adjunct, not a major focus.

It stands a good chance of coming back in full force - about 2/3 of people with controlled bipolar have another major episode within five years - but it also stands a good chance of coming back down to the place where I am now. As we develop better treatments, th

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i feel you on that.

whenever i'm depressed or mixed i feel like i have no ability to be who i see as myself. and whenever i'm up i feel like that is how i should feel.

so it kind of creates this shitty back and forth between two things that aren't how i should want to feel, yet when i'm down i just yearn to remember how it is to feel up. when i'm up i can't appreciate it b/c i've bigger things on my mind.

either way, the bipolar takes the place of my innate personality and i'm just left a beat up chunk of human that can't interact properly.

i do feel pigeon holed at times, though i right now i feel like i can take on this bipolar thing and finally start to separate my personality and my feelings (if only enough to function in a way to have the veneer of just another dude)

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I am much like CNS in regards to my BP.

Sometimes I'm a "beeper". Sometimes I just have BP.

It all depends on how I'm doing.

I prefer referring to myself as a beeper though. At least then it doesn't seem so bad.

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My answer is yes, but after 3.5 years of treatment, things have improved enough that I see this perception of bipolar defining who I am as more a reflection of how I'm doing with the illness, rather than reality.

When things are going well, and I come home from a club meeting, shopping or visiting with friends I realize "Gee, I didn't even think about being sick, or controling my behavior or emotions, and I had a very good time!". Thats when I know that the illness doesn't have total control of me, and that everything is fairly balanced in my life: meds, sleep, emotions, activity.

a.m.

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Thanks for the replies. They help me get a more realistic perspective.

I think I'm especially frustrated at the moment because I appeared to do so well for so long. People that know I'm BP (I'm pretty open about it) either think I've handled it amazingly, or that BP must not be a very big deal (me being the only BPer they know). I have a good, fulltime job with killer benefits, I'm partners in a web design business (although my partner handles absolutely everything except the design/development stuff I do, which makes it easier than it normally would be), and I've managed to keep all my bills paid.

But now I'm a mess. I hate that it never really goes away. It just hides and waits. My friends are either ignoring/avoiding me, or trying to 'babysit'. My work performance sucks, and I'm missing a lot of days. I'm pissing people off, freaking others out, and worrying the rest.

And, apparently, ranting on this board.

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mmm, ok. well count your blessings and do the best you can, remembering that your health comes first.

You are right about the illness hiding and waiting. Even the best experts tell us that regardless of what meds we are on, that there "will" be breakthroughs from time to time. I see the illness as more like the ocean with long swells, small waves on top of them, and occasional storms, and I"m just on a raft floating atop it. Sometimes I'm gonna get really wet. The best I can do is try to remember the good smooth times the meds have brought and struggle through the temporary storms.

I think that having that perspective is what is so difficult for people newly dx with bipolar. They are in crisis and it feels like hell, and the meds actually don't feel much better at first. But you've been at this several years too, so you understand.

Hey, if you haven't been to see your pdoc over this episode, then don't put it off. Call him first thing Monday. Don't sugar coat things, tell 'em exactly how rough things are. It's easy to brush it off and minimize the difficulty, and NOT get the help you need.

best, a.m.

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rant away, rzettler. that's what we're here for.

it's interesting you should ask, because i was just thinking about this. i know all the things that keep me (relatively) sane: meds, getting enough sleep, controlling stress, eating right, getting enough light and exercise. for the most part, i'm willing to be careful about these things to keep myself on an even keel.

but sometimes i just wanna forget about it all and do something spontaneous - especially when i wanna stay up all night, for one reason or another - but i know i'll be paying for the days or even weeks it'll take me to get "stable" again (for lack of a better word).

and that's when i feel like the illness controls my life. a helluvalot more than i'd like to admit. i can get really pissed about the unfairness of it. and i can definitely feel like i'm secondary to the bp, or i am the bp, or there's just the bp and no me anymore. hard to describe. i also often wonder if the meds have changed who i "am", since so much of what we are is our moods and our consciousness.

but then i remember what i felt like before getting diagnosed and treated, and how completely out of control everything was, and how who i "was" then couldn't do any of the things she wanted to do, because the illness had the upper hand. and then i'm grateful for where i am now, though it'll always be bittersweet.

but it does help to think of myself as a "beeper" (thanks maddy). ;) it sounds friendlier, somehow.

sorry this is long...hope my perspective helps.

bean

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I see the illness as more like the ocean with long swells, small waves on top of them, and occasional storms, and I"m just on a raft floating atop it. Sometimes I'm gonna get really wet. The best I can do is try to remember the good smooth times the meds have brought and struggle through the temporary storms.

hey, a.m., that's a great analogy. (or is it a metaphor, lol?) whichever, you nailed it.

bean

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