I have lived with bipolar disorder for half of my life now. I have spent 23 years medicated, trying new med’s, or adjusting existing med’s. The experience has always led me to think that certain medications have stopped working, or are no longer working for me. For the last year or so (maybe more, maybe less) I have been feeling unstable again. Very much like walking a tight-rope. I could fall at any moment, but I haven’t. Yet. It has been manageable because I am experiencing mania, not depression. Looking back, I am wondering if my chemical imbalance has been what changes, and not the medications ability to work. Do these disorders evolve? Do they change as we do?
As I have aged, have I become less depressed, so maybe I need less anti-depression medication? Or maybe I have become more manic and need more mood stabilizer med’s? Maybe I should try something new all-together? Some of my experiences with medication have been pretty terrifying, so I am reluctant to do that. Besides, I kinda like the mania. I am more social, happier and have a more positive outlook on life and everything about it when I am manic. But I don’t quite feel like myself, so I am trying to be very careful. It truly is difficult to control the urges to make decisions without thinking them through! But I am making lots of decisions and sometimes it scares me. I think I may have been in a depressive state for so long that I got sick and tired of it, and I started making somewhat big decisions in order to make changes in my life. Taking those steps may have caused a change in my mood and I have been manic ever since? Or maybe my manic state came first and allowed me to start making changes in my life that I did not have the courage to make while depressed? Either way, I am scared. Scared and excited at the same time.
I am afraid of how my decisions will impact (are impacting) the people I love. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But I am learning that is impossible. When your life is connected to others lives, changes affect those lives as well. So, your life is not just your own. It belongs to you, but it is a part of what belongs to them too. Their world, their reality, their identity. I guess there are always both blessings and curses that inherently come with any intimate relationship, but I think they are multiplied when the relationship is with someone who is bipolar. Unless I just feel that way because I am bipolar.
I am excited about my future. I love change and have been longing for an adventure for such a long time. My son is all grown up and I am an empty nester now. My husband and I have come to a mutual understanding and are parting ways in what I hope to be the most amicable separation in history. Aside from marriage and parenthood, this will be my biggest adventure yet. But what if this is just a manic stage that has lasted for what seems like eternity? What if once I reach this goal I have set, I find that I am unhappy? What if I experience another depressive episode? What if I lose everything?
What if I live my life afraid, never make these changes and build nothing but regrets?
What if the next chapter of my life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows?
I really can’t avoid that. I don’t know if I would even if I could. I am more afraid of the regret of not LIVING than the consequences of having done so. If this is a manic episode, I am going to make the most of it.
I think I am still learning to love who I am, bipolar disorder and all, and maybe that is the greatest adventure of all.