Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Bipolar Conversation

I don't talk a lot about being bipolar because it takes a lot of energy that I don't usually have or want to spare. I was misdiagnosed/dismissed as depressed/crazed/an asshole until I was 30 years old. I kept being prescribed antidepressant after antidepressant that did NOTHING. It took a spectacular psychotic break and a stint in "adult voluntary day camp" for someone to get it right. (Thank you forever, Bill, for weathering that with me. I cannot emphasize enough the patience and love a person has to have for someone else in order to do that.) Edit 6/20/17: That's not actually what was happening, but I didn't realize it for a long time. While I don't doubt there was a certain level of love, there was more selfishness and embarrassment at high enough levels that they interfered with my trying to get help from drowning in suicidal ideation. I don't blame anyone for going through these emotions at such a heightened time, but the only reason I ended up in day camp instead of being admitted to the psych ward like I actually needed is that he got extremely upset over what that would mean for him. He was more worried about money and his image. I had to both not to kill myself and triage his feelings. We left the hospital and went home because he couldn't deal.

Edit 6/22/17: I made this edit purely to correct the record.

I was diagnosed as bipolar II, which means I spend more time hypomanic or depressed than manic. No one had told me that being so irritable I lost vision at the drop of a hat was a symptom of mania. I always had to be way too busy in order to function (full-time, high pressure job, classes at three different institutions, band, bellydance, burlesque, suddenly buying a car and getting LASIK, getting married, etc. all at the same time!) I'd always suspected I was bipolar, but hey - I'm not a doctor!

Initially, I was a bit worried that medication would dampen my creativity. I was also in such dire straits that I decided I'd worry about that after I wasn't feeling so many sudden destructive urges. Happily, lithium and lamotrigine worked and continue to work for me. They help me feel like I can move through the world with full access to myself rather than scrambling behind a bunch of b.s. just to get to my actual self.

Over the summer, I borrowed "Marbles", by Ellen Forney, from a friend. (Thanks, Faith! I read it! Completely! My brain could follow her combination of text and artwork!) Forney is a local cartoonist whom I've admired pretty much since I moved to Seattle and first saw her work in The Stranger. "Marbles" is Forney's own personal account of coping as an artist who was diagnosed as bipolar right before she turned 30.  I adore her work. Go look at it.

Here's a helpful page from the book:

Don't let "mild mania" fool you. It still feels incredibly wackadoo. I do experience full-blown mania, just not very often. Mixed states and rapid cycling are also barnacles of mine. We have so much "fun" together!

My bipolar is currently pretty stable and I still have access to my artisticness. I sure do like it that way.


  1. I'm so glad you liked the comic! There are a lot of really amazing graphic versions of books I could recommend to you, if that format works better for you.