Posts

Hope is the Bird who Feels the Light and Sings while the Dawn is still Dark

Bonjour, I’m Pauline. It’s a privilege to offer my experience to your understanding of bipolar disorder and dual diagnosis with substance abuse. I once self medicated with alcohol, but now have 11 years of sobriety. May I begin by respectfully acknowledging the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations on whose traditional and unceded territories I live, work and play.

I’m a 55 year old mother of three, Nani-Ji to a half Punjabi Grandson, and I’ve spent 35 yrs being the wife of a saint. I’m a daughter, sister, friend, teacher, mentor and colleague. Many people are affected by having this ‘soul sickness.’ Besides social dysfunction, I have suffered from denial, which presented a barrier to accessing care and finding interpersonal healing.

In the last 16 yrs, I have been on 10 medications, and now fine tuned on three. Honing my insight, I am at my healthiest yet, with the expertise of my psychiatrist and psychologist. In my own mind, it is far easier to relinquish alcohol and gain a clear mind than give up the highs of mania. I had resisted adequate treatment fearing “a root canal of my soul”. To compound denial, my eccentricities were encouraged by all except those closest to me. I was lauded for my flamboyance, generosity and humour. Coercion to step up treatment occurred in 2014, when for one day, I found myself psychotic after many sleepless nights in pain. I was rescued by my family and kept safe in five point restraints over night. This, my only hospitalization, lasted 1 month. Besides avoiding hospitalization, the imperatives to accept aggressive treatment also included avoiding depression and dementia, both associated with brain burnout from the highs. Less ups means less downs.

Depression is waking to the disgust within the nostrils of my rotting body. It is the compulsion to take all my pills and slip under the bath water, a profound inertia confining me to days of indecision and bird watching from the sofa. Where can one find hope? In the words of Tagore; “Hope is the bird who feels the light and sings while the dawn is still dark.”

For patients suffering, hope in mental illness is the gift that treatment extends into the darkness. To the many scientists and clinicians who have played a part in this miracle of healing, I give my deepest gratitude. Treatment resulted in dampening my inner world of symbols and connections. Purpose and significance, I now share with others. I am abstinent of spirituality; which has been replaced with reasoned atheism and measured forays into transcendence. I still write poetry, but much less prolifically. And I am more objective about their quality.

Ecstasy is replaced with peace.
Unpredictability becomes constancy.
Impulsivity is stayed with pause.
Multitasking concedes to completing one.
Irritability softened into patience.
Restlessness is answered by acceptance.
Overconfidence yields to humility.
Bragging surrenders to confidentiality.
Interrupting quiets for listening.
Over-sharing is set aside for curiosity.
A monologue of opinions opens to dialogue.
Gregariousness settles in self-contentment.
Flirtation returns to loyalty.
Extravagance levels into moderation.
Risk taking is tempered with caution.
Selfishness imbued with empathy.
Insomnia crushed by sonorous coma.

I don’t miss drinking whatsoever, but I do miss my highs. I doubt myself when I am feeling good, worried I am escalating. Rebuilding self-trust is by one deserved day at a time. I am grateful to have got a grip before I lost everything I cherish. I am thankful for effective treatment, for wholeness and the chance to renegotiate my identity and rediscover my soul.

~Pauline

Bipolar Babes stroy

A Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder Brought Salvation

bipolar babes storyMy story begins at the age of 16 or 17. I always knew that there was something not quite right within myself as things did not seem ‘perfect’. My mind was racing and I would need to seek out a quiet place, close my eyes and focus on something. I never spoke of these racing thoughts. I plugged along until I moved out to the West Coast to be with my new man. I realized that I was having manic episodes; getting so angry that I had to walk away. Then I would punish myself for getting angry.

At this point, I decided to get some help from my family doctor (GP) who put me on an antidepressant. This medication took the edge off until I got pregnant with my first daughter and I went off the medications altogether.

Despair and Struggle with my Mental Health Journey

I was diagnosed with postpartum depression after she was born and never was able to get treated with any other meds and was pregnant with my second daughter 10 months later. After the birth of my 2nd daughter I went off the deep end and there seemed to be no saving me and bringing me back to reality. I was not harmful to my babies, but I was in the deepest despair and turned reclusive with them.

I reached out at this time and went to see a counselor – she was an Angel. She got me into a postpartum group with other new Moms and this helped tremendously. Everything seemed rosy now and I could conquer the world.

Over the course of the next 3 years I was put on 4 different antidepressants but none of them shutterstock_78288958 (2)seemed to work. When my father passed away I hit an all-time low and this scared my husband. I was prescribed new medication which seemed to help. I continued to take this medication for 6 years not realizing I was not supposed to be taking it, or any of the other antidepressants that were continually being prescribed to basically ‘shut me up’ and send me on my merry way.

How Love Brought Hope

My husband watched me get deeper and deeper into this abyss. He took me out one sunny day and had an intervention with me. I was shocked and saddened that this person he was describing was actually me. I promised him that I would go to a doctor and finally confess that, yes, I was feeling suicidal along with those EXTREME highs and EXTREME lows. He scheduled a telephone consult with Mental Health and from there they got me in to see a Psychiatrist.

Salvation.

I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder and was told that antidepressants would do NOTHING for me and was FINALLY prescribed the correct medication. It has been just over a year taking this and I still have my highs and lows, but they are so much easier to handle for both myself and my family. I am now at the point in my life that I am not ashamed to tell people my story and realize that I am not alone.

This diagnosis does not define me as a person.

Theresa, An Amazing Bipolar Babe