As a matter of fact I don’t recall this photo being taken

“You don’t even actually exist, so I just started shaking.”
Thanks undiagnosed mania, lost 20 lbs in 2 weeks thanks to you. 2008
This was after I totaled a car, check out the bruises. Manic.
Not well.
This was in 2008, when everything started getting pretty bad.

I suffered a couple of set backs recently and relapsed in more ways than one. One, with my drinking (see this post) and two, with my bipolar II disorder. Of the two, I think I’m more heartbroken about my bipolar II disorder relapse. Yes, I had had 9 months of sobriety, and it’s a bitch to have to reset the app that counts my sober days but I know I have a magnificent support group that loves me anyway. I experienced shame, and felt like I was automatically the same person that used to black out, drive drunk, say embarrassing things, and total cars, but I’m not. I don’t live like that anymore, because I am aware of my spiritual condition that causes me to feel like I have to drink. I have people I can reach out to, prayer, community, etc.  It’s a “thing.” Beyond that, I sought out help immediately and was able to keep that relapse as an isolated thing, God helped me that night for sure. (Thank you, God.)

As outspoken as I try to be about everything in my life, I struggle more with the bipolar II diagnosis. There are a lot of times I still feel super stigmatized and like people have ???’s flying around their heads when I talk about it.  I push through it because I don’t really have another valid choice.  There’s jokes I make about it, there’s explanations I give whenever I’m just not feeling “right”, there’s a lot of yawning and stretching because I’m exhausted to live like this. As if I don’t have something I’m fighting against every. single. day. It’s exhausting to be manic, and downright draining to be depressed.
My medications got changed about a  month ago because I kept cycling towards mania. Mania causes me (I emphasize me because it’s different for everyone) to lose sleep, to be super active, have a lot of energy, and come up with REALLY far off wacko ideas (Vanessa, I think you need a career change, what do you think about moving to Indiana, how’s the weather in LA, is this nail polish alien, I need to buy a bed frame, I should look into brakes for my car just to be on the safe side, what if I started a band, do braids permanently change my hair texture, what if Sartre was right… let’s take on three jobs, buy a house, get a mohawk, tattoo my mother’s name on my ankle, get two more dogs… I’m going to draw, I’m going to draw 99 faces and pick my favorite one, I’m going to write a song, I’m going to color all the colors, I’m going to draw without my glasses on and see if I can still draw… I’m going to stay up all night until I find the perfect color…)
It’s terrifying because the last thing I want to be called is crazy but seriously, I’m crazy when I’m manic. All of the photos above were taken when I was manic and before I was taking my treatment seriously.  I look sick. I wasn’t even drunk in any of those photos but I hardly even recognize myself. It scares me to see myself like that.

I started being treated for anxiety when I was 18 or 19. First it was just anxiety, then it was depression, then I was drinking a lot so I couldn’t really tell you what was going on, then it was a mood disorder when I was about 22 or 23. I was treated in a hospital for weeks at a time to be stabilized but whenever I’d be released, I’d just go back to drinking and not taking my medications. I was a terrible, terrible mess. That’s why the people that have stuck by my side through it all will always have the biggest part of my heart (you all know who you are.)

If we’re still friends, I love you. Sorry.

The reason my bipolar II relapse hurts me more than anything is because it is/was so uncontrollable. It’s a part of my life I can’t voluntarily change. My mind is broken, that’s the thing.

My depression spiraled so out of control recently with my medication change and it hurt so bad to tell anyone, and I had zero control over it. It felt like 2008 all over again. You can’t just say, “Don’t be sad, don’t be anxious, don’t think those weird thoughts” because I literally cannot control it. I don’t want to feel terrible. I don’t like it. It feels like getting on a roller coaster without a safety belt on, just holding on for dear life. It sucks, dude.
It hurt more than anything to realize that I wouldn’t get through it without telling my psych what was going on. The fact that the only way to treat this would be with medication. So, I told her. OH, I TOLD HER. I won’t tell you exactly WHAT I told her, but it was along the lines of, “Thanks, thanks a lot for that.”
She stopped what she was doing, turned her chair toward me, folded her hands in her lap and said to me (I knew it was gonna be good because she never faces me when we talk), “Vanessa, you are doing better than most people I know, bipolar or not, alcoholic or not. In fact, I’ve been very surprised you’ve taken on as much as you have in such a short period of time. You are only six months into a treatment that will last the rest of your life. You need to stop being hard on yourself. We will figure this out. But you need to slow down. Realign your expectations with reality. You are doing better than most people I know. That’s saying a lot.”
Well, of course I broke down. Why? Because it’s still not good enough for me. That isn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear she would fix me for good, for realsies, for keeps, this time.
But then again, it’s a lot better than I’ve heard before. I’m a lot better than I’ve been. Better than how things were before.
And that’s just how my bipolar II disorder works.
**if you know any alcoholics, addicts, or those with mental health issues, feel free to refer them to my blog. My hope is that someday all my blabbering will help someone out there that needs to know they’re not alone. Share away.
This will have to do for now.