"It's not the fall that kills you."
We've all heard this line. (Especially us Sherlock fans!!)
I completely agree. It's not the fall that kills me.
It's the summer.
The unyieldingly hot, suffocatingly humid, seemingly endless Deep South summers.
This past one, I experienced the worst mental emotional collapse I have ever had. I lost almost all function as a person. I was on the brink of a very ugly precipice.
With the last possible energy I could muster, I asked for help.
And help came. Well, I went to it really.
I was referred to a psychiatrist, after a couple visits and some medicine trial and error, she is helping me get back on track. Away from the precipice, and up and moving like a person again.
A very slow person, but a person again nonetheless.
My battles with depression over the years were even less under my control than I had ever realized. It wasn't something I could fix on my own. I didn't know the deeper root cause. Now I do.
I have BiPolar Disorder type 2.
Now things make a lot more sense. The years and years of doing great, awesome even, to plummeting into depression, then slowly crawling back out again. The cycle seems so obvious. I have a family history of Bipolar. But it never crossed my mind.
I only knew of one kind of Bipolar. The one most people think of. This is type 1. Where people go into a manic phase and their reckless or paranoid behavior causes major problems. And what a gross stereotypical oversimplification that is. But sadly it's still what most people think of.
I don't have a manic phase. I have hypomanic phases. It's a more controlled high than full mania. It is characterized by a flood of feel good hormones, surges of energy, great ideas, heightened senses, wonderful productivity, and a wonderful sense of self-worth. I thought for years that that was my true self. That was who I was, and my depressive episodes, which could last months, stole that self, held it hostage in the black fog.
Turns out, they are both my true self. One is as much a part of me as the other. And I have to learn to love the darkness as much as the light.
I am currently on two medications to help me try to balance and curb my "mood swings". Yes that is the technical term, which has been so abused that it really feels that it no longer applies to the very serious illness from which it sprang. So I will instead say, my medicine helps to lessen the severity and duration of my depressive episodes and lower the instances of hypomania.
I am relieved to have help in the depression department. But I honestly miss my hypomania. I was so good at getting things done during these stages. And now I can barely make it through my days without many rest breaks and a lot of mental effort.
I'm really still at the beginning of treatment. At my current doses, I've only been on these medicines for three months, the first three months was a lot of medicine tweaking every few weeks. I'm on an anti-psychotic, and an antidepressant. I CANNOT take the antidepressant without the anti-psychotic, a lesson we quickly learned this summer. I had some disturbing side effects.
I still have episodes. I recently had a severe depressive episode that lasted about four weeks. Then boom one day I woke up hypomanic and I have been for over a week now, though not nearly the same as I used to be. But, I'm making lists, plans, menus, looking forward to socializing, pre-organizing schoolwork instead of dragging into it day by day. I still do a large of amount of this from my bed, but I'm doing it instead of not being able to wake up at all. I know it won't last, but I'm trying to make the most of it while I'm here.
I have been forced to slow down. To start over with the soft foods of life, so to speak. Some days I can handle more, a lot of days I can only handle a little.
One of the major things that became very clear over the summer and in my course of treatment...I can't live here in the Deep South anymore. It's causing more harm than good. And so, after much discussion, and deliberation...we are moving!
We are moving in the spring to Branson, Missouri. It is the middle ground for Victor and I. He can still do his job without the enormous costs of having to set up a separate shop and contend with extremely cold weather, but I get hills, fall colors, some real winter weather, including snow, and much easier summers.
So the next few months are definitely going to be busy and full of change which has already caused plenty of stress and craziness to our already stressed and crazy household. Hopefully though, this time it leads to a happier, healthier, more capable Mama after it all settles down.