So, There’s That. Chapter Five.

All Posts, Mental Health, So, There's That.

– 5 –

My Polar Bear Disorder

“I just have this happy personality and a sad soul in one body. It feels weird sometimes.” – Anonymous

My psychologist, the brilliant woman that she is, decided to re-assess the situation and came up with a solution. She tentatively diagnosed Bipolar II disorder (aka bipolar type two aka manic-depressive disorder).

Bipolar II. Mood swings characterized by periods of low lows and high highs [but not super high highs].

It’s funny how, in hindsight, things can seem so clear. You mean all those times, across all those years, that I would get so excited and stay up all night planning how to save the world weren’t typical? It’s not ‘normal’ for people’s brains to fire so fast that they have to sit down to just keep steady? You’re trying to tell me that switching from finding beauty in a twist tie to really questioning the point of existence isn’t how other people spend their Thursday nights?

It’s also funny how much people will try to convince you everything is fine – especially in the absence of a medical test.

You don’t have that. You’re just a bubbly person. 

Did you ever think maybe nothing is wrong and you just have to accept yourself as you are? 

I know people with that, and you’re not like them.

Although my psychologist was 98% certain this diagnosis made the most sense and would lead to the best treatment path, she couldn’t make the responsibly make the diagnosis. About a month before the hypomanic episode that brought me back to therapy I had [with my doctor’s permission and oversight] tapered of one of my antidepressants. This meant my psychologist couldn’t tick of the diagnostic box stating my symptoms weren’t due to medication. The next step, in order to rule out a medical contribution, was to have a consultation with a psychiatrist. But in our very much broken system, psychologists aren’t allowed to make direct referrals to psychiatrists. So, I made an appointment with my GP, so that she could make an appointment for my to see a psychiatrist.

Cue 4 months of waiting.

During this time I got a lot of advice, both solicited and unsolicited, on the topic. My boyfriend, [most] friends, and family were very supportive. In their mind, nothing had changed. I hadn’t hit my head and suddenly become a completely different person. This was who I am, who I always was. If anything, they just now had a name for it and a reference point to help me feel better.

Other people wondered if I was just suggestible to the idea and was manipulating my past experiences to fit this new theory. Re-shaping the situations to fit the mould. I wasn’t offended by this thought. I wondered that too. In the end, after many hours of researching and introspection, I felt that it best explained not only my current situation, but also my past situation and my resistance to treatment.

Fast forward 4 months. 

I now have a confirmed diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder. Diagnosed by a psychiatrist. Otherwise known as a medical doctor. I’ll point out, ever so briefly, that this diagnosis was provisionally made literally 4 months earlier by my psychologist. I’ll just gently gloss over how that’s 4 months of targeted treatment I could have been receiving.

I called my parents and told them the news. Of course, having more or less figured it out a third of a year ago, they were pretty non-phased. Supportive, but non-phased. My dad, ever the jokester and situation-diffuser only response:

You’re a polar bear? 

I did all the necessary paper and medical work to start medicinal treatment. Blood work to make sure I was healthy. ECG to make sure my heart could handle the medication. Height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure for baseline monitoring. I then enrolled in a group based treatment program offered by the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health [CAMH] called Bipolar Basics I.

I was very proud to call my parents and tell them I start Polar Bear School on May 3rd.

 

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So, There’s That. Chapter Four.

All Posts, Mental Health, So, There's That.

– 4 –

Ups and Downs

It turns out “inattention” was definitely not the right word for what I was experiencing and wrote about in Chapter Three. In addition to feeling inattentive, jittery, frantic, and panicked, I was also feeling really energetic and generally quite awesome. I was convinced I was the best…at everything.

Let The Kids Play!

Mental Health, My 20s

Hi Friends!

Lately, there has been something really taking up a lot of my brain real estate that I’d like to share.

Kids need to play. 

So, There’s That. Chapter Three.

Mental Health, My 20s, So, There's That.

– 3 –

Inattention

I don’t listen in class. In fact, I’m currently writing this while I am in class. This fact is deeply concerning to me. It’s not so much that I don’t listen in class, but that I know I should be paying attention that is concerning. Here’s the thing: I can listen. I can attend. I just don’t.

So, There’s That. Chapter Two.

Mental Health, My 20s, So, There's That.

– 2 –

World View

During the first year of my Master’s degree I took a course on theories of developmental psychology. I actually have a hard time remembering what that course involved because the only thing that comes to mind when I think about it is the sheer number of presentations that we were evaluated on. I really dreaded the course at the time, but now I’m a pretty solid presenter. 

So, There’s That. Chapter One.

Mental Health, My 20s, So, There's That.

– 1 –

Constant Companion

I’ve been in a committed relationship with mental illness my entire adult life. Like any long-term relationship, some days go smoothly and others make you want to pack your bags and leave. I’ve learned over the years that depression and bad boyfriends are a lot alike. They both make you question everything, doubt your redeeming qualities, sap all of your energy, and make you wonder why you even try. I’ve also learned over the years that you can’t leave depression the way you can leave a bad boyfriend. In fact, you can’t ever be fully rid of depression without being rid of the rest of your life. And I’ve never been down with checking out before my time. 

University: As Told By Bitmojis

All Posts, My 20s

Hi Friends!

As many of you know, I started university eight years ago. Back then I thought a decade of university was so long. Now I don’t know what’s worse: how fast 80% of a decade went, or the fact that I actually won’t be done by the decade mark.

Thinking back, I’ve noticed a definite change in not only the way I am as a person (I mean, I was 18 when I started…) but also in my attitude towards university. I’m going to let the cartoon version of me tell this story.

The Worst Bath Ever

All Posts, My 20s

Hi friends!

Strange and mildly unfortunate things happen to me all the time. For example, there was that time I paid to have dirty and wet laundry. And let’s not forget about the day I ended up throwing up on myself while stranded in a Swiss Chalet parking lot.  These kinds of things were actually the motivation for my blog, and tonight I’m back with fresh material.

Spotlight on Mental Health: Depression

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“It doesn’t make me less of a human” 

Meet Amanda. 

Amanda is a 28-year-old, newly married [congrats!], woman.  Her guilty pleasures include chocolate and reality TV.  She loves anything purple and the movie Remember the Titans. She speaks English, a little bit of French, and a little bit of Spanish! She has a college diploma and 6 tattoos!

Depression: What Works for Me

All Posts, Mental Health, My 20s

Hi Friends!

If you follow my blog, you know that I have some issues with a “one size fits all” approach to “curing” mental illness [read 10 [Natural] Ways to Overcome Mental Illness for my thoughts].