I had a doctor’s appointment this past week, and as usual, we discussed my mood. I explained that I am still not sleeping well, I am having episodes of hypomania, and I have been very anxious and feeling low. The low is a painful low. I’m having a mixed episode. I feel exhausted, fatigued, irritable, agitated, anxious, and I’m experiencing insomnia and racing thoughts. I can wake up feeling like I want to cry and fearing “the worst”, but be okay by the time I get to work. I can start off a weekend morning really angry and irritable and my emotions can shift so quickly and I will be calmer before I realize it’s happening.
I know myself well enough to know when I need help and to speak up about concerning moods or behaviours. I recently increased one of my medications in the hopes that once it fully takes effect, I will come out of this mixed episode. I know medication alone is not the answer, but I know I would not be as functional as I am without medication.
Taking medication does not make you weak and it is certainly not a quick fix, or an easy way out. Medication is a commitment. What do I mean by that? I have multiple medications. In order to make sure I take my medications daily, I have pill organizer that has enough sections for 2 weeks’ worth of pills. I have to stock up the box with the correct number of pills. I have to make sure I pack my pills and take my pill box for my purse every morning. I have to remember to take my pills. I have reminders in my phone but if I don’t look at my phone all the time, a pill could be forgotten (and taking pills too late can have negative consequences).
Living with bipolar disorder is not easy. There are good days, where I briefly forget I have this diagnosis. Most days something reminds me about it. But I also think about all the things that I have accomplished and what I am able to do, and I have to keep reminding myself that I am enough. Don’t let anyone or an illness take away your sense of self-worth and self-esteem. I know it’s easier said than done because you forget who you were “before”. Doesn’t matter – concentrate on who you are now and what you love about that person. I know that’s what I am trying to do, as hard a process as it is.
My sister was in for a visit a couple of weeks ago, and we were having dinner before her flight home to England. She had come in for a wedding and seen various friends. We were talking about where people are with their lives. At one point she asked me if it bothers me when people ask ,”When are you going to have kids?” I agreed with her that it is an annoying question when the answer isn’t simple, and she comforted me by saying there is no rush, and essentially, there is no “right time” and nothing wrong with waiting (or adoption). I was touched by her pep talk.
My dad gave both of us a sage piece of advice regarding life and self-worth. He said never compare yourself to other people and, essentially, don’t use other people’s lives as a measurement of what success should look like or as a guideline as to where your life should be.
We’re lucky to have such a wise father.
I say, create your own road map. No two people are exactly alike, so why copy someone else’s journey?
I told my mom today, “I do things at my own pace.” And I will, and it will be okay because those who matter will understand.
About Melanie Luxenberg
My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!