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Rated: 13+ · Essay · Experience · #1007146
How I came to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
. Birth of a Revelation

Chapter 3

You want to feel better when you go to the doctor. When I left the second doctor's office, with a firm diagnosis, I was numb and still reeling from the shock of what I had been told. I didn't understand. Since then I have found that the information I had been given was a key to surviving my life.

I had a hysterectomy I didn't want. I was 35, not a virgin, and had never been pregnant. I missed the comfort of children at home. I greatly enjoyed teaching even though I was daily consumed by the pain of endometriosis. Finally, my doctor told me he would prescribe no more pain pills. I could have the operation or hurt. My medical situation was not tolerable, as I had daily debilitating pain from stabbing knives that physically doubled me over.

I bit the proverbial bullet, and opted for surgery, realizing any children to be in my care would have to be adopted or by marriage. I gave up the dream I had since I was a little girl playing with dolls. I wondered if all that childhood role-playing had been for naught.

I timed the surgery so that I could recover and watch the 4th of July Fireworks along the bayfront next to Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. After surgery I lay in bed, practically unconscious and grateful for the friend who pushed the pain med button for me. I was in too much pain to leave my hospital bed. The display of fireworks that I experienced was instead internal and all-consuming. Complications were minor but kept me hospitalized for almost a week. I experienced mood swings. I tried to believe that whatever came about was best because my fate was in God's hands. He knew all would eventually turn out for the best. I tried to focus on what I did have, as opposed to what I thought my life would someday be. The old dreams were over, but I could face the new life I found myself in.

One sunny afternoon, I took my lunch hour in the car, driving, and observing life around me. I was almost ready to return to the parking lot of the complex when a song came on the radio, and tears flooded my face. I couldn't stop crying, and I wasn't sure why.

"Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will, it's just a question of when
I've lived long enough to have learned
The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned. . .

Now, I know you're an emotional girl
It took a lot for you to not lose your faith in this world
And I can't offer you proof
But you're going to face a moment of truth
It's hard when you're always afraid
You just recover when another belief is betrayed. . .

This time you've got nothing to lose
You can take it, you can leave it, whatever you choose. . .
It's make-believe until it's only a matter of time
And some might have learned to adjust
But then it never was a matter of trust. . .

Some love is just a lie of the soul
A constant battle for the ultimate state of control
After you've heard lie upon lie
There can hardly be a question of why. . .

It's a matter of trust
It's always been a matter of trust
~~Billy Joel~~

Trust--I felt I lacked a basic feeling for living. Everything I thought was based on how life was going to be when I had a husband and children. It was all different now. My dreams seemed to be all over.

Instead of going back to work, I went to the gynecologist's office. After a short conference with the doctor, she suggested I visit a psychiatrist in the area. She called, and I was in his office within the hour.

I spilled out waves of tears along with the highlights of my life. I talked almost non-stop, and the doctor listened. He gave me a prescription for lithium when I left his office, and he bestowed on me a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. He said the med would help, but I needed counseling too.

I didn't really know what the diagnosis entailed, but it frightened me. I had met people during previous hospitalizations, and I knew that manic depression is serious. I knew the person I need to trust was myself. but how could I? Can a person with a mood disorder depend on themselves for solid thinking and good advice? This became my life challenge.

In the ten years since my diagnosis, I've learned when to trust myself, and when to consider the options. My diagnosis makes me different, but it doesn't have to be a disability. I walk and run with emotional crutches. Some days are easier than others. Some days are even normal.

I knew that I was bipolar and I had stopped working. That didn't stop me from running up my credit cards until I was awash in debt. Spontaneous, impulsive, overspending is a warning sign of bipolar disorder. I didn't see the problem soon enough to avoid financial problems, but I finally faced it. I got a six-year credit reduction plan, working from the remains of a lowly credit rating. I realized on my own that a change had to happen. Nobody had to tell me. I take pride in saving myself before I went under. A good dog paddle isn't pretty, but it may keep you from drowning. Managing finances is a life skill.

I've learned that doctors don't have all the answers; They can only listen to the questions and make suggestions. I've learned that a doctor's personality can be a great determining factor in the success of the treatment of a patient. I won't stay with a psychiatrist who won't listen to me. There are good and not-so-good doctors, a continuum if you will. I'm just like them{, only it's a different continuum.

I know that one out of five bipolars commits suicide. I know that my past suicide attempts put me at risk of ending my own life. I know that I get depressed, especially in the winter, and that I need a good doctor to deal with not only what I speak of, but also what I omit from discussions.

One of my pre-diagnosis psychiatrists, on the first visit, said very little, letting me speak and tell everything in my life that had an impact on who I was, and what I thought my problem was. After the hour, this locally renowned doctor said, "I could have told you that you were depressed when you walked in here. You didn't even have to open your mouth. It's written in the pallor of your face, and the bags under your eyes."

I felt like he wasted my hour because he didn't try to interact. He felt his purpose was in an equation he dictated. Not every doctor has the bedside manner to deal with me without making me angry. I've lost a few doctors along the way: I bailed out, or they bailed out. I know I'm a problem, so I don't take medical rejection too personally. Not everyone can deal with me and my problems because it's beyond their capabilities--not necessarily mine.

I despise those clinicians who set you up, like some board game played by the throw of the dice. You have to trust the doctor and believe he can help you. I no longer blindly trust titles and certificates.

The loneliest place I've been in my life, was when I was afraid to trust myself. That song still gets me, but mostly because I remember the chain of events following. The diagnosis originally took my ego away from me. I had to change my particular sense of adventure. One manages to get to the other side of most problems, somehow.

I understand why God did not bless me with children. I have trouble enough taking care of my needs and those of my four pets on a timely basis. I've spoken to people with bipolar parents, and there is often resentment. I can understand. I still wish I could have been a mommy, but now I seek a sort of different mommy role.

I am a writer with a portfolio of paper and pen children. I hope to see grow to maturity and bear fruit. I want the lessons I've learned to be on paper, so that others can read, and some will understand and their loneliness will abate.

Being alone in your own head is the worst. You have to be able to trust yourself on a very basic level. If you don't learn that fire burns, you keep sticking your arm in it, getting burned every time. Bipolars exist frequently right in the middle of their biggest flames.

I didn't give up on life, but I had to grieve my loss and build some new dreams. I accept where I am, and who I am, and that sometimes I need lots of help to get by. In the end, it's a matter of trust for each individual in the world, diagnosed or not.

Hope, faith, and being able to believe in oneself are my concepts for understanding what makes personal happiness. It is in each person's hands to take control of their life. This is better than copping out and saying they are less than they can be. In the end, it's always a matter of trust.

© Copyright 2005 a Sunflower in Texas (patrice at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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