I may be bi-polar, but I'm medicated

A little window into the bi-polar world

Off the Bit

Managing a manic phase is kind of like reigning in a horse and teaching him to come off the bit.

Like the young colt, your first instinct is to let fly, the wind whipping through your mane and an odd kick for joy every now and then. This results in an unflattering picture at best.  Just like the foal, you run yourself out by losing control and put yourself in a crash harsher than if you had managed it a little more carefully.

Teaching a yearling (for that is where it starts) to respond to a surcingle and rubber reigns with a nice big rubber coated snaffle bit can teach him to respond well.  He will, with practice, find a position that will cause him to be uncomfortable unless he is rounded in fore and rear, letting him get his propulsion from the rear and a clear, focused head leading the body in perfection.

The bi-polar mind is similar in that with the right tools and guidance, a mania can be controlled and of good use.  You just have to follow a few rules.

  1. Know your tack:  Talk to your psychiatrist about your meds.  Make sure they are working optimally for your best advantage.  Be open to changes they suggest and don’t be afraid to mention any apprehensions you may have.  You should do this as a yearling (As soon as possible, before you grow into a bad habit.)
  1. Practice getting it right.  Don’t expect to look pretty at first.  Give yourself a little time to adjust with knowledge gained.
  1. Gain your momentum optimally. Make sure you are not over promising or kicking for the joy of your newfound freedom.  Learn to use the phase for good by catching up on the details (cleaning, making sure your datebook is correct. Etc.) which were left untended during your last depressive phase. Select only those things which are on your daily task list, and then force yourself to get some rest.  Do not add to the list just because you feel you could accomplish it.
  1. Come off the bit. Get yourself settled into a position that can only lead to success in making it look attractive and easy.  Allow that position to teach yourself what a well challenged and yet in control horse you are.

If you follow these rules religiously, you will more than likely gain control of your disorder. Not to mention looking proficient while doing it.

In the snow

Being fully medicated and getting used to it is kind of like being lost in a snow storm.

In a snow storm, you are completely blinded and have no real sense as to what is really going on around you. When you’re fully medicated, you must depend upon others to give you details on how your emotional state is, because you really are blinded by the meds.  You no longer have the ability to judge where you are or where you’ve come from.

In a snow storm, you are always encouraged to find high ground and wait until you get your bearings. While medicated, you have to search for the emotional high ground of stability and then look around to judge where you need to be, or if you are already there,

Trusting your instincts is also important in both situations.  It is vitally important for you pay attention to yourself and gather precious information from that.  You may need a little help in some areas – kind of like a GPS in the blizzard – asking your friends, family, and medical staff to monitor your moods and report any anomalies that may indicate your mood changes.

The bottom line is this:  If you find yourself lost, you can find a way out.  You just have to be patient and smart.  Don’t forget to pack all of the tools in your tool box and ask for help (or a map) whenever you need it. �

On Being Medicated

Being medicated is kind of like watching T.V. while reducing the volume to mute.

Your mind and body are so full of life, living and feeling everything to the extent it seems was meant to be. It’s so overwhelming you just can’t contain it all. This works on both ends of the spectrum, with mania flying high and depression falling to the depths, this is life at full volume.

Then, as the medication kicks in, the volume slowly reduces. You can still remember the life you once knew to be normal, in fact, you may not realize at first that the volume is decreasing – s0ftening the edges of your personality.

Finally, when the meds are right and in full swing, you just kind of adapt to a life where the show is obviously still going on, but it’s not quite the same, not quite as bright or dark. The volume is finally on mute, and you sit there, watching with complete attention in order to pick out any part of the show and make it functional again.

Some people don’t like this, it does in fact feel like being a zombie. Lifeless and yet still alive, wandering aimlessly on the Earth, searching out the next victim to interact with you and your half a show lifestyle. Others feel relieved as the life they were living was giving them a sort of headache, and they now experience relief.

If you wonder what I’ve been doing for the last 4 or 5 years, I’ll tell you. I’ve been medicated and grateful for it. Even though my creativity was temporarily lost, I’ve now got the volume tuned to just the right degree that I can watch the show without having it get so loud that it’s out of hand. Oh praise be for “stability”.

In the Coffin


Isolation is like being locked in a coffin, only this time, the locks are all on the inside. There is no sensation, no input, nothing to bother you or take your attention away from yourself.


Short periods of isolation are sometimes a good thing. Everyone needs a time-out. It’s just that the longer you isolate yourself, the better it feels and anxiety about coming out into public again grows. It takes great strength of heart, mind and body to loose those locks and sit up in the land of the living again. If I were a dog trainer (which I am) I would say that it takes a vast amount of desensitization and counter-conditioning to perform the feat.


Eventually, you must just bite the xanax and bear into the task. It’s better for everyone that you are a monkey-like participant in life and not holed up like a turtle in its shell.

Lost in the Corn

Every bi-polar experiences symptoms from time to time. When this happens, your judgment is unstable. In fact, you may not notice the symptoms until it’s so severe, it is a bit like being lost in a cornfield. You know the way out is simple…choose a direction that crosses the rows and keep walking. The corn will end eventually, right? The problem is that you lose sight of what is straight, and you often find yourself straying with hasty reactions that seem logical at the moment. After every decision you make, you are forced to recalculate and choose a new “straight” direction. Unfortunately, this furthers your symptoms and elongates your recovery period.

It is very lonely, this trip through the emotional corn, and confusing. Meds and counseling, the only compass, are sometimes difficult or impossible to access. People who you count on to be stable support for you seem to waver in the distance, and you are suddenly unsure as to their ability to lead you out of the field. Isolation becomes your comfort and directional mistake at once.

So here I sit, alone in the corn. I have been here for months now and have no idea whether or not I am making progress. Things are not going so well in my life, though I never expect it to be smooth with symptoms. I just continue on day after day with the slow drudgery of choosing what appears to be the most promising direction.

This taking care of business


For a bi-polar person, taking care of another person is akin to a misguided attempt at suicide. This effect is heightened if the person being cared for is emotionally close to the bi-polar. This happens even if the job lasts only a few short days. Trusty Boyfriend/Knight In Shining Armor recently had his appendix taken out. Not a big deal, right? For me it was a huge deal. I wanted so terribly to show my appreciation for him. He has taken a lot of baloney from me in my altered moods. Why then shouldn’t I be able to get him jello and fluff his pillows for a couple of days?


I’ll tell you why…it becomes so overwhelming just to see your loved one uncomfortable that you can hardly bear it. You are so depressed from the change in routine, watching someone suffer, and the extra chore burden. Even if it’s routine, the disease makes the Himalayas out of a molehill.


Okay, now you’re depressed and noticing the signs in yourself. That person you normally turn to when moods abound is sick or hurt, in fact they are so busy getting better you have no support. What do you do? Try and compensate of course. You try to stay on your meds and try to do something good for you each day. The problem is that the guilt piled on you for taking your attention away from your loved one is unbearable. This guilt is somehow self-imposed and non-negotiable. Even though your loved one would revel in you taking care of your own moods before a crisis, you are already set down that road, with no way to turn back.


With the depression and compensation going on, you begin to bounce like a rubber ball. Off the walls, floors and ceilings you careen with your emotions already out of control. Next thing you know, you are unstable, in denial, and unable to seek help. That’s what you get from this taking care of business.

Mickey Mouse

There are times when thoughts skitter through your brain like mice behind a wall.  You hear them, you sense their approximate location, but you can’t see them or identify them as individuals.  This experience usually precipitates a period of hallucinations, although sometimes it happens afterward.


When your thoughts skitter, it is impossible to concentrate.  You find yourself sitting in a chair with several hours gone by and you don’t have any way of accounting for your time.  Not only did you think nothing, you accomplished nothing.  Keeping on a schedule or to a to-do list in this condition is a monumental chore in itself.  Showing up on time is a crapshoot – you may make it, you may not.


At times like this, your personal hygiene suffers, because you don’t have the time or attention to pay toward such endeavors.  You often go without meals and when you do eat it’s either raw or burnt because cooking seems like a long lost art form with all the busyness going on inside.  Even simple house chores become laborious.  You can’t remember a chain of events or the timing of events (did that happen yesterday or the day before?).  You can only manage a maximum of one activity at a time and more often than not, that activity is staring blankly into space.  Multi-tasking is definitely not a possibility during this phase.  Conversation is strictly a responsibility which you find yourself often unable to perform.  When you can manage a chat, you find yourself unable to retain or remember what was said on either side.


Still, you continue on with the arduous task of collecting your thoughts into some identifiable shape.  Unfortunately, like the mice, you know they are there – you just don’t know exactly how to get at them.

The Great Wall

At times in the life of a bi-polar worry becomes a wall.  All encompassing, treacherously high and heavily fortified, it is a wall that does not fail to lock you inside, away from all of life.


There are certain tactics that you can use when you encounter this worry wall, and any or none of them may reap you success.  For instance, you can attempt to carve or find one small foothold after another with desensitization and counter-conditioning focused on the topic of your current worry.  This is a long, arduous task and you must be careful not to look upon the way you came, for it puts you at risk for falling back to the ground at square one.  Another way to get past it is to simply bombard through with your stubbornness and willpower.  This is a definite test of character and only the stoutest can erode the fortifications, even a small amount.  You can look for a door or a window by visualizing all is as it should be, and all will be as good as it can be.  This works well if there is in fact, a soft spot in the wall, willing to open up and permit you back into the world.  You can try to move the circumference of the wall circling you by attacking one fear at a time, slowly gaining ground.  The danger here is that you can lose ground too as new worries become obsessive instead of abating.


In the end, you have to figure out how you will deal with your own wall and hope that those close to you understand that you are not distancing or isolating yourself to spread dismay.  You pray that they will rather understand you are trapped.  Although it may seem vaporous in nature, it is as real and solid as any wall ever erected.  It is uncomfortable and real, in spite of the fact that it is easy to dismiss these global fears unless you are the one experiencing them.

Blog for Mental Health 2013

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.


Very seldom do you see a bi-polar with a simple diagnosis. There always seem to be co-morbid diagnoses and these are a little like playing the game jacks.


You get sick, bounce the ball and pick up one jack – bi-polar. Just when you think you’ve got it all under control, you bounce the ball again, with a diagnosis of OCD. Bounce again and you pick up the previous two diagnoses and an anxiety disorder. On and on it goes, each bounce forcing you to pick up more jacks. Eventually, you can’t handle them all and you lose the game by being hospitalized or starting over with a new physician. Then you start over again.


It is hard to talk about only one diagnosis when there are so many in your hand. It is sometimes even difficult to separate which symptoms come from which disorder. Sometimes the jacks get jumbled up together and you can’t pull them apart – in other words, you occasionally have instances when you don’t know whether the anxiety is causing you discomfort the bi-polar is the source of trouble – or the PTSD or agoraphobia, etc. etc. What you are cognizant of is the difficulty of functioning throughout your daily life.


Through medication and counseling you can decrease the number of jacks you are required to pick up by minimizing symptoms. Anxiety can be calmed with xanax, bi-polar can be moderated with lithium, PTSD can be assisted with hypnotherapy. The idea is to use any resource available to reduce your requirement to one jack at a time (regardless of which one you pick up.) so you can continue to win the rounds with ease.



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