I received such a positive response to my previous post, Hug a person with mental illness that I thought I’d talk more in depth about my personal struggle with bipolar type II. there are two types and type II is the less severe form. I struggle primarily from manic episodes and severe anxiety and here’s a look inside my life.
Monday, wake up, to the sound of my alarm going off for the fifth time. I’m exhausted. Only 15 minutes before I need to leave for work. My wife has been up for an hour. She’s an early riser, and has little problem waking up. Me on the other hand, I’m a night owl and late at night is when my mania is in high gear. I can sometimes stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning working on something despite having to work at 9.
I stumble out of bed into the bathroom and take my pills. The smaller pink one is Celexa 20 mg, and the larger white pill is Wellbutrin 300 mg. The Celexa is to make my extreme anxiety manageable and the Wellbutrin helps with impulsivity.
I’m pretty sure the anxiety comes from the bipolar but I’m not sure. Ever since I can remember I have had extreme generalized and social anxiety. So much so that it has paralyzed me socially. Some days I have missed school, appointments, work, phone calls, and even answering the door due to anxiety. The Celexa makes it manageable and I no longer avoid social interactions as much as I did and don’t feel such an urge to escape situations that I’m in as much as I used to.
The Wellbutrin helps with impulsive urges associated with the bipolar. When in a manic phase I tend to speak faster than normal and can talk more unfiltered. This can cause me to say things I don’t mean or step on other’s feelings to get my point across. I come off as arrogant when I do this, the Wellbutrin just gives me an extra second or two to think before I act and get myself into trouble. It also helps control my spending urges, when manic I can sometimes have uncontrollable spending sprees and hide it from my wife but I have mostly stopped that now with the help of the medication.
Combined, the medication helps minimize the effect of the bipolar. My psychiatrist made it clear that the medication alone won’t solve all my problems, I need to have consistent talk therapy to discuss any changes or new issues that come up, like regular maintenance. My wife and I have even had couples therapy sessions which have been very helpful.
Lastly, my therapist and wife have encouraged me to connect with friends and family more for three reasons. One, because the regular social interaction will minimize my social anxiety, will bring me more satisfaction in life, and my friends and family can keep tabs on me and let me know if I’m going into an episode I don’t seem aware of.
The biggest thing with me dealing with my bipolar was awareness. Once I became aware of the things I could do to mitigate the symptoms, my life has gotten easier. I no longer feel like I’m crazy and there’s nothing I can do about it.
So Monday continues on, I go to work and go about my day. I take periodic breaks with moments by myself to recharge. Too much social interaction is torturous for me, I need time alone to center myself.
I also try to avoid too much caffeine because it raises my anxiety level. I try but still love my coffee so it’s hard some days. I help people over the phone at my job and when you’re dealing with people’s problems it can get stressful at times. I used to struggle with this but am able to keep a cool head more now after taking medication which helps me immensely in my professional life. I am able to be better organized and think before hitting that send button on business emails which helps me come off more professional than I used to.
Monday evening I get off work, take the bus home and have to take my daughter to the doctor for her 16 month check up. I again struggle with the pressure of the social interaction. I stress about having to answer the doctors questions and remember everything about her health. It seems stupid but I get anxious about things like this. I worry about what complete strangers think of me or if they judge me. This is an attribute of my anxiety. However, it’s better than it once was thanks to treatment. Before if I was having extreme symptoms of anxiety I might have made up an excuse to avoid it and would feel there was no humanly way I could face it.
Then back home. We eat dinner at the table and we ask about our days. We play with our daughter and get ready for bed. I prepare myself to do it all over again. At least I have the help now to make living with bipolar disorder a daily struggle and not the daily hell it once was.