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I'm Bipolar I, and everyone knows this.  We can all agree that it was going on waaaaaay before the diagnosis (in February), but even my family treats me differently.  It's kind of like I'm not Emily anymore, I'm just Bipolar.  So my deal is that I live in the Midwest, and I don't like it.  At all.  Never have.  Everyone also knows this.  So I want to move somewhere (I've had a bajillion or so such plans over the years) non-Midwestern.  So everyone, counselor included, blames this on my disease.  "No, Emily, you just want to move because you're sick.  The best thing is to stay here."  What's here?  Stuff I don't want.  So is moving somewhere else going to make me happy?  Not necessarily.  I'm well enough to understand that I'm not going to magically get better just if I go to Portland or Boston or Montreal or whatever.  But I'm also pretty sure I'm not ever going to be completely happy in a place that I absolutely hate.  It's not like I'm going to forget about my family if I leave--I'll probably get along better with them because I won't be as resentful.  Good things for all.

I think other people use my disease as more of an excuse than I do.

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Hi Schmem, welcome!

Kinda hard to discuss anything firm without knowing a little more.

- Always wanted to live elsewhere?  That sound pretty normal.

- Some difficulty with family over MI.  Is it bad or just mildly irritating?

- How is your BP treatment going?  Wildly successful or struggling?

- Socially, are things going well with friends?

- Are you working?  Have a marketable skill?

- Where are you in life?  Still in high school or married 15 years with 3 kids?

I guess the direction I'm headed is to consider overall how are things going in your life and with your BP. If you are manic or horribly depressed, then moving probably wouldn't be a good thing, ditto if you have no money, insurance, job.  Also, if you are still working for stabiliy, moving is going to make it much harder, because you won't have all the social and medical supports you do now, and because of the stress it creates.

I'm not pushing either way.  Even if you decide not to move now, you can always move and travel to your hearts content later.

*bing*  Perhaps some trips or vacations to some of these places might cheer you up and allow you to do a little exploring and learning.

You don't have to answer any of this if you don't want to.

Cheers,

A.M.

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A.M. has said many wise things.  I'll just add that while untreated I moved all over the place trying to get happier.  I now live 2000 miles from my family and I like it that way.

I'd also be interested in hearing how you're doing with your BP.  Are you pretty stable?  Having moved a lot when I was in the throes of mania, I know how much worse it tended to make me.  I'd end up moving somewhere I knew noone and then crashing into depression.  I survived, obviously, and my life was certainly interesting, but I wish I'd done all that stuff in a slightly more sane way.

Another thing to think about is that even if you're still working on getting your moods stabilized you can still figure out where to go and what to do when you get there.  Do your internet research on living expenses & jobs and all that practical stuff.  That way when you decide to move you may even be able to line up a job before you get there.  If only I'd  thought of it when I was 25 and tripping all over the country...

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Hmmm...I've been bipolar for about 11 years, was originally diagnosed as just depressed.  I've been medicated (switching frequently) since February, so things are still a little shaky.  I've been on my current cocktail (Tegretol, Lexapro, and Ativan) for a month.  The Lexapro's been wonderful and I've felt almost remission-style for three weeks.  So I know I could stand to stabilize for a while, but the plan is that if I move I won't move for a few more months, just to make things a little less crazy.

The stuff with my family's not too bad.  They're fairly supportive most of the time, although they do tend to get pissed when I'm having an episode, especially a depressive one.  One thing my mom says when I talk about going away is that if I get depressed again they won't be around to help.  But the thing is that last year I was at a college far enough away that they couldn't just come up for a short visit, and when I got depressed they were a lot more supportive.  I think they're better to deal with it over the phone than in person.  So I actually think my support system would be stronger, because we get along so well when we don't see each other.

All of my friends (my sister excluded) live far away, so I wouldn't have to deal with leaving them.  My relationships with my friends are really good--I don't have very many, but the ones I do have are very close.  Having social anxiety disorder, it's almost impossible for me to make friends, and being bipolar it's almost impossible to keep them.

I'm unemployed and don't have a whole lot of marketable skills.  I'm a pretty good cook, and I've thought about cooking school but don't know if that's what I really want to do.  I don't really have people skills (retail was hell for me), but I'm good with kids and animals.  No formal training with either, though, and not a whole lot of references (and I can't drive, so I'm pretty sure that takes nanny out of the running).  I've thought about being a live-in caretaker.  I read ads for them in newspapers sometimes and a lot of times they don't really care about experience, they just want someone to clean the house, cook, and read to them.  I can do all those things.  That would also take care of rent, which would be good.

Right now, I am 20.  I'm in my third semester and at my second college.  I have no major and I'm not sure school is really the thing for me.  I'm not a great student (I can't study, but I can bs like a pro, so I do ok--unless I'm dealing with a multiple-choice test, in which case I am screwed) and I don't really have any direction.  I can only take  so many more gen-ed classes until I'm going to have to start picking major-specific things, and nothing really sticks.  The only things I'd actually want to go into that actually require degrees are Psychology/Social Work, but those take at least a Master's and fuck it, I'm just not that focused.

Also, I am 100% single (so, so single), so now's as good a time as any to go, especially since I don't think I'm going to continue school either way.

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My suggestion, for what it is worth:

Find a university where you want to move. Apply. Then move to that college. Choose a college with lots of majors and then pick one major. Heck, pick any major and start taking classes in it. You are either going to like it (so you find a direction), hate it (which tells you what direction to not go) or feel blah about it (which is exactly where you are now, isn't it?). I changed my major many times in college- Psych, French, International Business, Finance, Art History. I ended up with a BBA in Finance & General Business and a BFA in Art History. I still didn't have any idea what I wanted to do with my life when I graduated but I had three majors and two degrees so I was pretty employable. My first job was in business, now I'm an art teacher. (I ended up going back to college again for Art Ed.) I'll probably change careers again before I'm done.

My point being, any direction. even the wrong direction, is better than no direction.

Also: if you are bipolar you need structure and college provides structure. Blindly flopping around in a new city is bad for bipolars. Colleges also have dorms, which make life easy- meal plans provide structure to your eating schedule and it is really easy to make friends (and create a support system) in a dorm environment.

I'd love to move somewhere more exciting but right now I have a really good psychiatrist, great health insurance, and very supportive family close by. I know that moving now would not be good for my bipolar disorder. When I do decide to move I am going to enroll in grad school somewhere, for the reasons I listed.

Good Luck.

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I want to second what artchick said.  You should take advantage of the fact that you're a student and let that guide you to a different city while remaining in a structured environment.  God, I envy you that flexability!

I can relate completely to the "I don't fit in the mid-west" thing.  I rarely go back home (Kansas City), and when I do I feel like an alien from another planet.  I took the moving away from home to the extremes and have lived in France for 8 years now.  I fit better in Europe, but being ill sucks no matter where you are and having to talk to your shrink in another language can sometimes be frustrating.

So, my thoughts... change schools, focus on the things you said your good at (like kids) and don't go too terribly far away.

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