What I Want You to Know

It’s been a long time since I’ve written here, and while I don’t owe anyone an explanation, you’re going to kind of get one today.

Because if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you know it’s been a rough few years months. The anemia is kind of in check for now and I finally found a psychiatrist, but things are still kind of a mess. It turns out after years of being told it’s “just” depression, OCD, etc.,  it’s actually Bipolar 2, an explanation that kind of provided relief.

I was going to keep this to myself and continue to deal with it behind closed doors, but then Prince died. That might not sound related to anything, but stick with me here.

STRENGTH

Soon after his death the speculation began as to why — was it drugs? Was he an addict? He was so decent and never in trouble, so how could that be the case? Those have been the headlines, with everyone wanting to know why, — we all crave closure — but also wanting to know something that’s none of our business.

He was an incredibly talented entertainer who shared his gift with the world, but you know what? If he was dealing with addiction or whatever it was, he didn’t have to share that with the world.

He was a legend, but he was human.

I guess I got a bit riled up over this because of my own struggles. While I’m pretty open about everything, this new diagnosis came right about the time of the Prince stuff, and I haven’t told many people.

Now I’m closer to being a hermit crab than to being famous, yet I didn’t want to tell those in my world about this because of how they — coworkers, friends, readers — might react and the general misconceptions.

On one hand, it’s nobody’s business but mine. On the other, I want them to know what I deal with, why I might act that way that I do, and to clear out those misconceptions.

So that’s what I’m doing today.

This is how things are for me.

With Bipolar 2, the stereotypical highs aren’t extreme and driven mostly by anxiety. I do everything I need to do, and more, without all that much effort. I’m extra productive, appearing super focused and driven, which I mostly am. But I’m also obsessing about work, overexercising more than normal, waking up in the middle of the night analyzing everything, and even more rigid with my routines.

In those moments, I feel like I don’t have a choice — it’s what I have to do.

But what I do is never enough.

Then the depression — which never fully left — comes back in the blink of an eye. I’m tired, but wired, mostly driven by numbness and guilt, not seeing the point in much of anything. And while showering might feel like a mountain to climb, I’ll be damned if I don’t keep overexercising, keep working that extra hour, and the thoughts in my head never. slow. down.

I need a distraction. I need to be numb.

It’s a mix of these highs and these lows, sometimes all in one day. And while the medication is taking the edge off a bit, I feel like I’ve lost who I am sometimes. What’s “normal” and what’s Bipolar? I don’t know, and more days than not I’m just trying to keep it together.

And to those on the outside, it usually looks like I am.

Maybe that was the story with Prince. We’ll never know, and we don’t have to. He had a big platform to bring light to issues, but also had no obligation — and frankly neither do I. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t.

Because while I deal with mental health issues, I’m not a diagnosis.

I’m a smart, caring, hard-working woman doing all I possibly can to not let the negative sides of my health rule my life. Yes, I have issues, but everyone does in some way, shape, or form — even if you never see them.

And if you’re one of those people, you certainly don’t have to share your story. But if you do, there are people who understand you’re not broken, who are fighting a similar fight, who care no matter what you’re going through.

It’s hard to remember at times — and even harder to believe — but it’s true.

That’s what I want you to know.

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49 responses to “What I Want You to Know

  1. As someone who struggles with Bi 2, I know the lows of every day.

    If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here

  2. Yay! for your bravery. I am starting to come out of the bipolar closet as well. Thriving sometime, Surviving mostly.. Sharing verbally because writing it on the page makes it forever and too real.. Robin Williams death hit me hard. Prince was a second blow. Makes me wonder how common it is for people to struggle behind the masks we wear every day I wish you a good journey on this road of life.

  3. Thank you for this.

  4. Brava Abby!
    God bless you and keep you safe as you continue this journey of discovery. We all wish you well and look forward to your stories as your progress down all your paths.

  5. I’m so glad you wrote this post. I struggle with depression and anxiety every day. While not the same as Bipolar 2, I can relate to much of what you’ve written. Wishing you the very best. xoxo

  6. Patricia Devine

    Very well written, lady. I’m sure you’re relieved, on the one hand, to finally have an answer and a plan to move forward. But I’m also sure you’re grieving on some level for what was and the time that has passed with the wrong diagnosis. Don’t look back, as there is nothing there to go back to. Set your sights to the future and how amazing your life can be. Peace.

    • It’s more that I feel overwhelmed in general, regardless of what the actual diagnosis is. Those are words. Actions are much harder, you know? But you’re right. Time and money spent are gone. Time to keep moving forward. Thank you for reading and your thoughtful comment.

  7. hollowtreeventures

    I love you big. Thank you for sharing this, even though you’re absolutely right, you didn’t have to.

  8. You’re in good company, not that you particularly want to be part of the club, but Cordelia described her bipolar disorder in a guest post on The Middle Finger Project back in 2011. Check it out, maybe it will help some: http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com/fear-exposed-guest-post-at-the-middle-finger-project-2/

    BTW, for what it’s worth, Abby, you’ve always been my blogging idol. I admire the way you’ve dealt with all kinds of mishaps and hardships. You can handle this, too – we’re all here for you.

  9. We’re all hot messes in our own way. I hope the diagnosis helps you find some peace of mind, if that makes sense. Best wishes and hugs from me.

  10. nicoleleighshaw

    Abby, thanks for sharing this. I have depression (currently at bay), and while my experience is very, very different from yours, the part that always worries at me is the part where I never know which part of my personality, my motivations, my self, is me—and which is the depression.

    Glad you have a diagnosis. You’re good people, Abby.

  11. Well, from someone who has undiagnosed issues with mental illness, I understand. I struggle with even wanting a diagnosis, but I suspect, like you it brings some relief understanding it all. Thank you for making me laugh lady. I love that about you.

  12. well, you know I always love an internet with your words on it, even when they are difficult words to type. and be with. you are not a diagnosis, you are Abby. still Abby – my friend.

    thank you for sharing. for being brave. I wish you the smoothest paths in this journey. I’m here! *waves*

  13. Sheron in Reno

    Thanks for sharing. Far too many people live in that closet – including several I know.

  14. Hey, I really respect you and appreciate you for writing something like this. You’re awesome.

  15. Gosh, I really needed this! Not because I struggle with the same issues, not because I’m (naturally!) struggling with my own set of issues, but because I was just forced to spend time in the company of one of those people who either have never had to struggle with much of anything or who simply refuse to deal with any of that “uncomfortable” stuff in life.

    What gives them away is their lack of empathy which manifests itself in meaningless pseudo-cheery statements and the cold belief that it’s people’s own fault if they’re depressed or homeless or whatever, that if they were just “motivated enough” or had a “better attitude” they’d be fine!

    I know exactly what kind of people I prefer. Thank you, Abby!

  16. Best, BEST wishes on your path, lady. You are always at the top of my FB feed for a reason. I need you there. We need you there. While I am not bi-polar, I did have a phase where I was, during chemo a few years ago (medically induced). And I kept some of my symptoms very quiet. So, anyway, you are my sister from another mother, and I love you and your work. Tell us what you want or need to. Just keep talking.
    Keep up the good work.

  17. Sherry MacBeth

    All I can say is thank you for sharing what you go through on a day to day basis. I have a similar story (depression, chronic illness, acute anxiety) and damned if this didn’t feel like I was reading a page out of the journal I sometimes remember to write in. We are not alone… That right there can get a person through the day/morning/evening/hour. Keep fighting the good fight Abby. You are a unique and awesome woman! You can add me as one of those people you can talk to if you ever need to x

  18. You are brace and strong–and full of compassion. I appreciate this post and all it took to bare your vulnerable self. I appreciate you.
    XOXO

  19. Hey,

    Not many people who suffer from Bipolar Disorder share their pain and experiences, but I am glad that you shared your troubles and problems and a few of us can surely relate to it.

    Regards,
    Ankush.

  20. A powerful post. Thank you for being so open with us…we appreciate your brave honesty.

  21. Thank you for sharing! I share my “issues” and people view me as being negative. They just don’t seem to understand I am sharing the reality of life with an invisible illness(depression, anxiety & PTSD). Something that scares those that don’t want to understand. I just recently deactivated my FB page after being told “people don’t care”. This FB page I have now has a handful of friends that do care. Literally, don’t need 10 fingers to count them. I am who I am and the approval of fake friends is not needed. Thanks again for sharing your story & your sense of humor.

  22. Your FB page is new to me and my world, but I related to your humour and straight forwardness as soon as I first saw one of ur posts being shared. Today was the first day I seen something pointing me to a blog. I of course clicked on it, as I wanted to see what u might blog about considering I love ur one liners status’s. And I was again floored to read yesterday’s blog about BP. My Mr is bipolar2 and it affects our life quite a bit, and some of it negatively. Just wanted to share my new experience as I enter your blogs and status updates 🙂 and wanted to commend u for the thoughts and views on mental health u have 🙂 u take care of u Abby , ur doing an ausome job at living LIFE 😙

  23. Thank you Abby. As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety most of my life, I was in denial about being diagnosed bipolar 2. It has such a stigma in society, so it is something I want to keep to myself, but at the same time I wish I could get support from others and give them insight into my daily struggles. It’s kind of a shock to receive the diagnosis in your 30’s. Like you, I don’t have the stereotypical highs and lows (somewhat but not extreme) but they are most certainly triggered by anxiety. I wish you luck in therapy, and hope your meds get you feeling better. The struggle of finding the right combination of meds without side effects is a difficult process.

  24. This is your best blog post so far as well as the most positive. It tells me you are going to do better and be ok. best of luck to you and congratulations and thank sof sharing

  25. Sending you hugs, love and my great admiration. You’re a terrific, smart, super talented, funny lady and I wish you all the best with these challenges.

  26. “I’m a smart, caring, hard-working woman doing all I possibly can to not let the negative sides of my health rule my life. Yes, I have issues, but everyone does in some way, shape, or form — even if you never see them.” <–YES. Thank you for writing this. You are wonderful.

  27. This is such a brave and beautifully written post. There is still so much stigma attached to mental health/illness and we all need to be able to talk more about this. As a Psychiatrist, I treat many patients with this illness and know that it’s such a difficult and painful road but when you find the right balance (whether with medications, therapy, alternative/holistic treatments, etc.) and begin to feel like yourself, it’ll be worth the energy you have to put in to start the process. Sending you all the love and light to you dear lady!

  28. Thank you for sharing what it is like for you to get through each day. I’m sure your words have brought comfort to many ~ based on the number of comments. Good luck with your continuing adventures with chemical assistance.

  29. Aww, I’m glad you got a better diagnosis, but i’m sorry that you’ve had a rough time of it lately.

  30. “Normal” is waaaay overrated. (and boring)
    Like the message in the blackbox. And those who quietly fight their own battles and yet still have the the strength and will to assist others with their struggles: real super heros

  31. Thanks for sharing Abby. We ALL have issues of one kind or another, but it takes a strong, brave woman to talk about it. You are my hero.

  32. From one B2 to another, keep on truckin’.

  33. Abbey you are you never change your the best

  34. Wishing you the best. i’m 64 and was diagnosed bipolar over 30 years ago but with the right medication things have been okay.

  35. My doctor wondered if I might have Bipolar II for a while but it was still just a mix of major depression, anxiety and OCD. I don’t really mind what the diagnosis is – just that the medication works. I hope that your medication works well for you and that you feel liberated by sharing, as I do.

    • Yes, they still aren’t sure with me (which is why they suggested Bipolar 2, because it’s a mix of depression, anxiety, and OCD.) It’s so hard because there’s no test, as you know, only certain ways that it can be approached. I hope you’re finding what works for you!

      • Hi Abby. They tried me with Bipolar II medication which didn’t help so I went back to the old faithful – Prozac and Xanax which works well in small amounts. Recently my doctor added Cymbalta for a few weeks just to kickstart me out of a depressive phase and it worked. Personally, I feel I may have some elements of Bipolar as I come from a family full of diagnoses ranging from ADD to Bipolar and I don’t think any are exactly correct. Genetic studies will help tremendously in the future to get tailor made medication. Just know you are not alone. 🙂

  36. Good morning Abby. Here’s another day for you to confront and the “one at a time” theme applies of course. But what impresses me most about what you’ve written here is your courage. I don’t know if you see it or not but doing it one day at a time – or even one minute at a time – requires guts for the struggle. You demonstrate that in spades. Now you’ve stepped beyond the struggle and the courage it takes to navigate each day. You’ve stepped beyond into inspiration mode. You offer us your private battle as a gift that gives us hope for our own struggles – as well as maybe the courage to open up ourselves and share our most difficult truths for our own benefit and that of others. My admiration for you is great Abby because you deserve it. http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/blog/

  37. I think that while we shouldn’t feel obligated to reveal all about our mental health issues (PTSD and depression) the more we are able to talk about it the less stigma will be associated. The biggest, we’ll one of the biggest problems with mental health problems is that people are afraid to seek treatment because they don’t want to be thought to be crazy. The more we talk about it the more normalized it becomes until Bipolar is seen as something like the flu. Depression is a head cold and PTSD is a really bad case of diarrhea

  38. Keep writing about this—I think many people will benefit.

  39. Thank you for being real, that means a lot. I have bi-polar 1 disorder, which means I deal with more mania than depression. Anxiety gets me fairly well as that symptom is related to both 1 and 2. Keep moving forward, you have a lot behind you and much for you.

  40. Thanks Abby for shedding light on this. I am going to be seeing a psychiatrist and will be receiving a prescription for situational depression. Of course, I am worried about being on medication but like you, I’ll get through it.

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