Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The roller coaster

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Welcome to roller coaster known as Claire Dawn! Please make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and that your arms and legs are inside the ride. Ready??? Let's go!

All my posts for the past week have started, "Well, today kinda sucked..." or something to that effect. Seriously, it was life was trying to gang up on me or something. Generally, I'm a pretty happy go lucky person. But when I'm down, I'm way down. And it feels like the world is out to get me even when nothing's actually happened. This time, in case you wonder, stuff has actually happened. Having to choose between an awesome 2 day concert and my writing conference; trying to figure out how the heck to get to middle of nowhere, Vermont, from Japan (impossible on most airlines, expensive as hell on the one that can swing it); and now, the crowning jewel, I can't find my passport! Oh waily, waily!

Today I'm not going to drown you all in my miseries- believe me I'm good at that- but I am going to try to enlighten you a bit about the reasons behind it all. I suppose it would depend on what school of thought you subscribe to. As a Sagittarius and an ENFP, either could be the cause. But today, I'll be giving you some info on being Bipolar aka Manic-Depressive. ( I was diagnosed Bipolar 9 years ago.)

I could go on about chemical imbalances and a bunch of scientific stuff, but it's easiest to think of it as a pendulum. On one side of the swing, you've got depression, on the other mania, and normal life in between.

Everybody knows what depression is. Extreme sadness for an extended period of time, and often without reason. Mania is less well known. Simply put it's the opposite. Extreme happy feelings. Unlike depression though, mania doesn't have to be an extend period of time. It's often a shorter period with more extreme feelings.

I'm sure someone somewhere is asking, so, happy feelings, what's wrong with that? It's like being high really- although I've never been high on anything my brain didn't do to me on it's own, but then who needs drugs when your brain can you make you higher?- you're invincible. As one site I read puts it, you don't think you're invincible, you KNOW you are. The problem with this is that you're really not.

Sometimes I feel like the mania's more dangerous than the depression. With the depression, you might curl up in a ball in your bed and not go to work. You might think about suicide, but the energy required to kill yourself, might just be too much energy for you to find. In depression you overthink and overfeel everything.

Not so with mania. You don't think. You just feel and do. Things do not have consequences. Or at the very least, the consequences are so much smaller than you. It's not like they can hurt you. I think mania probably kills more people than depression, but it's not like it's at all measurable. If soemone gets AIDS from having careless sex and it kills them, that's measured as an AIDS death, not a mania death.

After the mania, comes the crash. A little bit of "What the hell was I thinking? And how the hell am I still alive with all the crap I just did?"

Manic-depression can be controlled with meds. I, however, don't do meds. Maybe that'll kill me some day. I think the meds would have killed me faster. See, there are a couple of different variations of bipolar. Some lean towards depression with few or mild cases of mania. That's not me. I've never been told which kind of bipolar I am, but I'm completely convinced I'm a rapid cycling bipolar. I go back and forth between depression and mania, although I personally tend to lean towards mania.

The difficulty in medicating Bipolar Disorder is this: you're trying to get the body to do two opposite things. Depression on its own? You want to make a person happier. Mania on its own? You want to try to take away a little happiness. Bipolar? You're trying to both at the same time. The reason I quit my meds is because they couldn't get the mania taken care of. For two years they tried different combos of different things and each time, they'd get rid of the depression, and only make the mania worse.

I was beginning to feel like I could jump into the Grand Canyon and survive!

Today? Definitely not a manic day. Not a depressed day either, really. But the depression is coming. I've been at this too long not to know.

Anyhoos, here ends today's lesson. Hope you learned a thing or two, cuz that's what's on my mind this Monday.


Nicole MacDonald said...

Thanks for the info, explains a lot :)

Becky said...

Claire I had no idea you were bipolar. My dad is as well. It's a hard thing to live with. Thanks for being open and honest about it.

Jon Paul said...

Claire--Sounds like one heck of a rollercoaster. I had a friend with bipolar disorder, and the idea that she could function without her meds was practically an impossibility. I gotta tell ya, based on your remarks here and what I've seen reading your blog these last few months, I think you got it together.

Obviously, I've got no clue what you're going through, but consider this a little dose of moral support from the peanut gallery. :)

ElbieNy25 said...

I think you explain it very well. People think that the mania is actually a good thing when its far from it. I also think you're brave to put yourself out there like that, but having gotten to know you these passed few months I can't say I'm surprised.

A good friend in college was Bi-polar and thought she was so invicible that she jumped in front of a train. I remember getting that phone call and how my heart sank.

I agree with Jon Paul about how together you seem.