What to expect when reading bi-polar wife

Thoughts and feelings of living with bi-polar as a wife, mother, and person in the world.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Finally - a diagnosis of bi-polar

On reflection, my mood has never been truly stable, and in periods of hyper mania, I've either got on peoples nerves, exhausted them with my energy,  or left them feeling baffled and confused. I can clearly remember being told to slow down, and actually not being able to. So where were we? Oh yes, going to the psychiatrist.

So, I book a taxi to take me to my psychiatric appointment as I'm not allowed to drive after my operation, and request that he wait for me to take me home after. On arrival I sit in the waiting area, and scanning around the room, realise I've been booked in on what looks like geriatric mental health afternoon. I must be the youngest by about 40 years, and wonder if this is where I will be in the future. Everyone one looks disorientated and vague - maybe this is actually a good frame of mind to be in?

I'm finding it hard to sit still and am literally jumping in my seat and cannot concentrate. All I attempt to focus on is the request I have in my mind which is, "Can you help me?" I feel erratic, agitated and so deeply depressed, I feel as though a force in pushing me down into my seat and I can hardly see. I just want it to end. I feel breathless and frightened. I finally get called in, and get a whiff of TCP and old cigarette smell as I pass the old duffers into the waiting room. I sit on my designated chair, hunched over and fractious. I must look like a rabbit caught in headlights. My lovely psychiatrist has a slow, smooth voice and he asks me what is going on and requests that I communicate to him my thoughts and feelings. This is actually quite difficult and I've got so much going on in my head I can't seem to hold on to a train of thought for very long. He keeps asking me if anything has happened, other than the accumulation of stress incidents. I keep telling him no, and continue to try and describe the pictures in my head. I have an internal visual world that is like an I-MAX cinema screen and I attempt to translate these pictures into words of explanation. I am speaking so fast I can hardly keep up with myself, and at the same time, break down in sobs as I feel so depressed I am actually ready to give up.

Sitting there, I feel that I had lost touch with my insight and turned into a raving, rambling thing, with no consistency, boundaries or understanding. I am out of control. What brought me back into the moment was my psychiatrist picking up the phone. I immediately panic, thinking he is ringing the mental health ward, and my legs literally begin running on the spot, ready to run for it. But then he speaks to reception, and asks if my old CPN is around, and could she come down. For a second I feel some relief, but then think she is being summoned to give me a lift to the psychiatric unit. The tension and fear is unbearable. I'm still rambling when she comes in the room, and immediately she says how awful I look. It must be odd for them as most of the time I'm functioning at a reasonable level. To see me on my knees, babbling and gesticulating wildly in some ways is a reassurance. They kept me in services for the 3-5 year window for exactly this reason. They needed to see me this way, instead of me just telling them how I can be.

What happened next was both a relief and a moment of despair. My psychiatrist says I am having a manic episode, mixed with a severe depression which is known as a mixed phase episode. He politely explains that I have Bi-polar disorder, and that I am going to have to take a mood stabalising medication today and for the foreseeable future. The cpn and the psychiatrist both start talking to each other about different types of medication, trying to agree what would be best to level me out. At this point I feel left out. They both turn to me smiling like weird parents, and tell me I have to take a medication called quetiapine. It will bring down my mania and will work well with my anti-depressant. Apparently, although mentally I will be better off, I may gain weight, twitch, have a dry mouth and constipation, feel sluggish and generally a bit naff. For a while. My response is, "Great! I'm going to be mental and fat." Well its either that, or get even worse and go on a mental health holiday for 6 months. Maybe not.

Although throughout my mental health journey up until this point, there was a possibility of being diagnosed as Bi-polar, to actually have it confirmed is devastating. Life as I know it has changed beyond recognition and the fall out will be significant. I know my illness is treatable, but to take anti-psychotic medication feels like the worst thing that could happen. Its a confirmation of being seriously mentally ill that bothers me. I know it makes sense, the diagnosis, the medication, but I don't actually want to be like this. It feels so very final.It won't go away. I wonder if people will now categorise me with the stereo typical serious mental health image - the one where I shuffle, poke my tongue out uncontrollably and scare small children by my general demeanour. I take my prescription resentfully and scurry off with my head in my boots.

The taxi driver is still in the car park and the charge is huge. I've actually been in the centre an hour and I now have to go home via the chemist. When I hand over my magic slip, the pharmacists face changes slightly and says, "Oh we don't have this in normally so I'll order it for you and get it delivered to your house tomorrow." I feel like shouting, "Yes I'm fucking mental, so fuck off!" I think I have some residual anger regards my new diagnosis.

All I want to do is go home and go to bed. For a long time. This is where my mania will stop and the period of suicidal depression will begin. I'm entering 6 weeks of living hell.

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