Tales of Far Away

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18: Tales of Far Away

15 Dec 99 – Diary

I’ve finally started to write in my diary again. I was depressed during November. As usual, communication failed, including writing down my thoughts. But I’m back.

I’ve finally given in and added an antidepressant to my mix of medications. I’ve avoided this in the past because of the possibility of going fully manic. But the Epilim (Depakote) and Lithium combined nicely stabilised me in mild depression and I couldn’t get out of it. In retrospect, I realise this was how I was feeling in September and October.

I’ve added St. John’s Wort at half the regular dosage. It has indeed pulled me out of depression and is making me somewhat hypomanic. Since I like being hypomanic, I’m not exactly complaining, although I worry about the possibility of going fully manic.

I also worry about my irritability. I’ve become rather short tempered and in the course of three days I managed to shout at the telephone company, the credit card people, and my bank. I’ve since decided to actively monitor my anger and curb it.

The telephone company really deserved it though.

But about November.

The argument I mentioned in the Nov 3 diary was a major one. And for the first time ever, an argument triggered a depressive episode.

This had been disturbing for me. I have always thought that my manic and depressive episodes were more or less independent of what I did. In fact, my episodes were almost clockwork in their regularity.

I used to be comforted by this because I could always say that being bipolar was essentially a physical problem. And I could point to my episodes and say it doesn’t matter what I do, they come and go on their own. It was nice to think of being bipolar as something that was just a flaw in my body.

Of course, if an argument could trigger an episode, then it opens up the possibility that I may have something to do with it. It’s no longer purely a physical problem.

Therein lies one of the biggest problems I have had about being bipolar – is it physical or is it mental. It makes a difference to me – in the first case I’m just a person trying to make the best out of a bad situation, but in the second case the problem is partially of my making.

The information out there says it’s both of course, but that’s really is a wishy-washy answer. Being bipolar is too personal for this kind of doubt to be present. I want to know when something happens if it my fault or not. I do not want to have to be wondering if the loss of November was my fault on top of trying fix the mess that I am in.

Over the last two years I learned how to distance myself from the things I did – that I did in spite of myself. I learned how to stop feeling guilty about being bipolar. Now that an argument could conceivably trigger an episode, the doubt, and the guilt are hovering.

I refuse to fall back into that hole.

As far as I am concerned, and certainly given my experience over the last few years, being bipolar is definitely a physical problem.

And it’s not a mood disorder either. How I feel is an overlay on, and a reaction to, the set of physical symptoms that affect my life. The fact that the symptoms are subtle and intertwined with my emotions doesn’t mean that they cannot be separated out and dealt with independently of my emotions.