depression

(First posted at http://www.planetmut.com on 26 December 2013)

AMAZING, isn’t it. I’ve been dia­gnosed with Bipolar 2, mean­ing I’m even second when it comes to health and well­being. I sup­pose I should be grate­ful, though, as from what I’ve read if I’d been Bipolar 1 I’d be bank­rupt, divorced and dead by now.

I was dia­gnosed back in March and have been on med­ic­a­tion for the con­di­tion since. I’ve been on anti­de­press­ants for years but they never really seemed to solve the prob­lem — the bad times, as I euphemist­ic­ally call them, were always there wait­ing for me. My doc­tor real­ised that there must be some­thing else going on so sent me to a psy­chi­at­rist who asked me all the right ques­tions — spe­cific­ally, if I had highs as well as lows.

And I think it’s then that I real­ised, as did she, what’s been wrong with me for so long. All the other doc­tors and the psy­cho­lo­gist I saw a few years ago con­cen­trated on the depres­sions (not that I blame them, that’s why I was see­ing them). But once the psy­chi­at­rist asked if I had elev­ated moods, bouts of being stu­pidly happy, euphoria over fairly basic things and days when I was full of energy, I thought, “shit, I’m bipolar.”

She explained that I didn’t have BP-1 as I was able to func­tion when high. BP-2 does pro­duce manic epis­odes, it’s hypo­manic — in other words it’s below mania. Accord­ing to Wiki­pe­dia, hypo­mania makes me “extremely ener­getic, talk­at­ive, con­fid­ent, and assert­ive [and] have a flight of ideas and feel cre­at­ive”. Yep, I recog­nise all that. I’ve had days when I’ve been up at 5.30am, done all the dishes/laundry/bins/catbox house­work by 7am and am out the back smoking and read­ing and wish­ing I had more to do; days when I can’t wait to get in the Mini and floor it up the free­way to work; days when I’ve been gag­ging to get on here and write 500 words of shit (the fact I haven’t updated Planet Mut in so long prob­ably tells you the mood I’ve been in recently, although it’s not been that bad — I just haven’t been inter­ested in doing it); days when even the most mundane things have seemed excit­ing; days when I just want to do some­thing, any­thing. And I thought that was just being nor­mal, what people without depres­sion feel like.

And then there’s the down­side. I joke about com­ing second but BP-2 is actu­ally just as severe as type 1. Whereas BP-1 gives much greater manic epis­odes, BP-2 goes the other way; the gaps between depres­sions are shorter, the depres­sions last longer, the cycles of up-and-down are more fre­quent (I’m pretty sure mine are every three days, give or take) and the depres­sions are far more severe. The med­ic­a­tion is def­in­itely work­ing on the bad side as although I still have crap days it’s nowhere near as bad as it was a few months ago. I mean, nowhere near, which makes look­ing back at what I was like bloody ter­ri­fy­ing. When I’m doing OK or hypo­manic I can’t even remem­ber what it’s like to be down. How did I even get out of bed in the morn­ing?

My meds have been upped once already, from 100mg a day to 150mg a day. I can tell the dif­fer­ence and I’m feel­ing pos­it­ive about get­ting bet­ter, even on days when I’m not doing too well. The drugs are meant to level me out and stop the depressive/manic cycle; the stuff I’m on, Lamo­tri­gine, is sup­posed to help more with the depres­sion, which is good as frankly I’d quite like to keep the hypo­mania as I thor­oughly enjoy it.

Exer­cise helps so I’m back on the tread­mill, and I’m even lift­ing weights, which is a good thing as I have the upper-body strength of a three-week-old kit­ten. One pos­it­ive thing is that my weight loss is con­tinu­ing, and I’ve lost so much I feel OK about reveal­ing the num­bers: in the past 12 months I’ve gone from 252 pounds to about 202. Not too shabby. I still have about 30 to go to hit my tar­get, but at least it gives me some­thing to aim for.

Matt

I’m Matt. I’m a Welsh guy living in California with my dog Cadbury. I’ve suffered from depression since my late teens but was only diagnosed Bipolar 2 a couple of years ago. Medication is helping me but it can be a real struggle at times. Luckily I have friends and family to support me.

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