BiPolar In Order vs. Bipolar Disorder
By Jennifer Kiley
I just purchased Tom Wootton’s book “BiPolar In Order” after spending part of last night reading posts from his blog on PsychCentral. For a while now, I have been trying to live with my BiPolar without the use of psych meds. Not only were they not helping me but I felt more depressed while on them then after I stopped taking them. They didn’t really help my mood changes. All I felt was a brain that I was not able to use very effectively. Off of the meds, I am a wiz at Jeopardy. My creative abilities have returned with an actual dynamic increase in energy.
Where the problem lies is in my need to be able to exert some sort of control over how far the hypomanic moods take me before I begin to lose control. When I don’t maintain control, I forget it is time to sleep or that I get any sleep at all or get enough sleep so that my health isn’t effected. Actually, I am not as concerned for the hypomanic states as I am for the depression, that comes fully loaded with strong suicidal thoughts and a desire to end my life. The pain is so severe at times and being able to reach out for help is not wired very well in my brain when I am in a deeply depressed state. The darkness is so overwhelming that I feel that turning to anyone would be too much of a demand on their attention.
I suffer in silence, exactly the way I did when I made my first suicide attempt. It was when I was a teenager and struggling with not understanding my feelings for another teenager who just had gotten married. She was moving away, that meant that she was leaving me forever. In my mind, I was losing the only person I felt that I ever loved in the way she made me feel. I was so unaware of my sexuality at the time. I had no clue that I was a lesbian and that I was in love with this girl. I use the word girl b/c we were both still kids.
One night, while I was staying at my sister and brother-in-law’s apartment, doing apartment sitting, this girl asked if she could come and stay with me. I jumped at the offer. There was only one bedroom, so we ended up sleeping in the same bed. Now, as I said, I did not know I was a lesbian, and she definitely wasn’t. As we laid down in the bed together, there was no touching unless accidental. I didn’t sleep one moment that night. The feelings inside me were so strange to me. I had no idea what they meant or what they were. But that night, the bond between us became even stronger for me.
The evening of the wedding, at the reception, I became despondent, nothing meant anything to me. I went so far as to allow myself to leave the bar with a man to go to his place. It was the most disturbing experience. The physical contact was a way of punishing myself. All I wanted was to be away from this man. This experience put me into an even deeper depression and the feeling of loss just grew to be beyond any pain that I could endure.
A very short time passed, and one night after the wedding, I wrote two suicide notes. One to my mother and one to my girlfriend. I had a full bottle of pills. With some liquid that I poured into a glass, I took handful after handful of pills. They swallowed right down. I choked a few times but that didn’t stop me. Once I had finished taking every pill in the bottle, I made sure I placed the suicide notes in a place where they could be easily found. I sat for a short time staring at the envelopes. What I wrote in each letter, I have no memory of the content. I could only guess that I said I couldn’t bare the pain any longer. I missed my friend too much. Her absence from my life was just too much for me to deal with and then I probably said good bye. With my mother, who knows what I might have said back then.
I was getting tired so I lay down on the bed with my head at the foot end. Why I chose that position, I have no idea. My thoughts went to how I felt they would feel and would they miss me. I wanted my girlfriend to know how much she meant to me. That I would rather be dead then to live without her. As I started to feel like I was slipping into a level where I would fall asleep almost any moment, an important thought went through my mind, an important thought that made me want to stop all of this. The question that came into my mind was: “Is this really the last moment you want to remember of your life? Do you really not want to be aware of anything ever again?” Well, my answer got me to snap out of it and to sit up. I felt awful and groggy and sick to my stomach. I got up and slowly walked out of my bedroom toward the bathroom. I looked toward my parents room. A voice inside of me wanted to say: “Help me, I need your help.” Those words in my head were addressed to my mother but the voice couldn’t say them out loud. We entered the bathroom and knelt on the floor. We did what we had to do to get the pills out of our stomach.
Returning to my bedroom, I took the suicide notes and tore them up into little pieces and threw them away. To this day, I have no recollection of what was written on those pages. I decided to live.
The next day I called in sick to work at the library. My boss didn’t believe I was sick but gave me the day off anyway. My head had a loud buzzing sound that made me feel like I was in a sound proof chamber with only that sound playing. We could barely hear. Our girlfriend called and said she was at her parents and asked if I would like to come over. Of course, I did. I spent the whole time with her listening to her talk all about her new life and her new husband. I was totally silent about what I felt and about what I did. I never told anyone. It was another one of my secrets that I buried with all the other ones.
I saw her one more time after that at her new home which was quite far away. A long time later, after I had a tragedy in my life I called her for support and I told her then the truth about my sexuality and my feelings for her back when we were kids and, obviously, that I was a lesbian. That was the last time we had any contact at all.
I have tried to commit suicide several times since then, sometimes accidentally, without my awareness. And the thought of suicide and depression are a constant companion when I am not in a hypomanic mood or in just a regular mood. The regular moods happen, too. Usually when I am not aware of them. Most times I am not aware of my mood changes unless I get extremely hypomanic or when out of nowhere I fall off a cliff into a deep depression and all goes sideways.
Why I bought the book BiPolar In Order is to help me gain some control over these mood changes. I want to be able to figure out what triggers them. When they are starting to get out of my control. I want to be able to learn to utilize my depressions and turn them around into a creative state. That is what the author says one should be able to do. Right now, the hypomanic states keep me from sleeping or getting enough sleep, but they give me the energy to keep on going and to enjoy all the things I am doing but then there is the down side of the up side.
The rages or anger or irritability that take control of my emotions and watch out for those around me. They are difficult emotions from which to pull back on the reins. Then there is the depression. Without any warning that I notice or pick up on, I find myself suddenly in a full blown depression and it’s like being in emotional quicksand. I sink rather quickly into the darkest of places, from which at the time I feel I cannot be rescued. The thought of calling out for help feels impossible to me. It’s not that I don’t have the necessary numbers of suicide hotlines or a chat line online that I could connect to. And the worse of the depressions always happens in the middle of the night. I think I am too distracted by the activities in the day to drop off the edge during that period of time.
I want to be able to control what I feel in any of these moods. BiPolar In Order and Tom Wootton make me feel like he has discovered methods that one can work on, that will help to get back the control of one’s life. The idea of being depressed and actually having it be a productive mood sounds promising, rather than one that wants you to take your own life. The battle to stay alive each time I am depressed and suicidal takes all of my strength to push through it. “To walk past the open windows.” A quote from the John Irving book, “The Hotel New Hampshire.” A character in this book kept saying it to her family but unfortunately, she was the one who lost the battle of “walking past the open windows.”
I believe I can do it without meds and I am going to work really hard to achieve my goal. My productive period started up again shortly after I stopped taking my psych meds. And another reward for not taking those awful meds, I lost and am losing lots of the weight that they put on my always thin body before those bloody f&@king meds entered into my life. Plus all the other side effects, for example: seizures, fainting, dry mouth, memory loss, functioning of my brain, stamping out my creativity, sleeplessness, dizziness, just to name a few. Yes, there are more but more intimately personal.
Now, keep this in mind, I am not advocating this for everyone who has Bipolar. Some people may need meds to maintain the balance in their lives. I want to face my struggle in a different way. It can’t hurt to read the book: “BiPolar In Order.” If anything, it will teach me more about what makes my mind, body, emotions, and spiritual being work. I am/have Bipolar and I want to not have it be a disorder, I want it to be BiPolar In Order. And I want this to work. Otherwise, my s/o and Doc & therapist & all others in the close circle of my life are going to be driven nuts by my hypomania more than my depression. But then, they might just worry a bit that one day I won’t be able “To Walk Past The Open Windows.” And I do not want to do that to anyone I love. I have lost a good friend to suicide and an uncle who was relatively young when he did an Ernest Hemingway to himself. But, of course, it was all hush, hush. Fortunately, I have a sister who heard everything when she was a kid. Whereas, I heard absolutely nothing except what she filled in for me.
Went on a bit longer that I thought I would but I wanted to share in all honesty.