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The Interview

October 28, 2017

So I just got off the phone after talking with an East Coast graduate student for almost an hour about my bipolar disorder. She is with a group doing research for the University of Virginia, part of which is reaching out to people with the illness and asking them a lot of questions about how it affects them. I found out about the study from a reputable source and thought I’d participate for the fun of it. I also get a $20 Walmart gift card for my trouble, but that’s not the reason I did the interview. I did it because I am passionate about mental health and I want to do whatever I can to further understanding of brain disorders…mine in particular.

I was asked first about when and how I came to be diagnosed with bipolar NOS, and why it changed to bipolar 1 a couple of years later. How did that feel? Well, gobsmacked was the first word that came to mind, and I said as much. Then it was relief that there was a name for what ailed me and a way to treat it, even though it was incurable. Then came the denial, which I still fight even today, because I’ve felt so good for so long that I forget how bad things really were in the past. It’s a good thing I have this blog to remind me of how it used to be when my illness was raging out of control, and it was even worse before I got help.

She asked me about my medications, and what I call my love/hate relationship with them. I think I’ve finally gotten over the temptation to tinker with them, but I had to admit I still hate having to take so many for just this one reason. (We won’t even talk about the blood-pressure meds or all the supplements I take for various health concerns…suffice it to say that I’m on a hell of a lot of pills.) I think she was actually impressed with the quantity because she let slip a “Wow” while I was giving her my  statistics.

We also discussed in depth the impact that BP has had on my life. I don’t think I’ve ever really put it all together before, but it boiled down to this: in the short term, the disease  ruined me. I used to be a high-functioning, employed, successful nurse holding down a very responsible job, maintaining a household, and participating in society. Now I’m on disability, unable to even imagine going back to nursing, relying on my family to help support me. At first glance, my life looks terribly depressing…and yet, there is incredible optimism in my heart.

After all, I’ve learned to appreciate my many blessings, like my current stability, the aforementioned family and the fact that I have a safe place to lay my head at night. My husband is gone, but I am used to it now and while I will always love and miss him tremendously, I know he wouldn’t want me to mope around feeling sorry for myself and crying for him (well, I still do that on occasion, but I think he understands). I have friends, both online and in real life. I have four little dogs to love and play with who tend to bark at unfortunate times, like during this interview. (She got a kick out of that.) My blog is doing well and I’m getting a lot of page views these days. I even get to go on nice vacations like the one coming up in December. What’s not to love about my life?

This all came tumbling out as we neared the end of the survey. I don’t know how useful my story will be to the research project, but to me it was worth the 45 minutes out of my day. I think she thought so too; “awesome” was the word she used.

I’m encouraged. 🙂

 

 

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2017 1:19 pm

    well done for participating! research matters and any research done on any mental illness is a step further to ending stigma! xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. October 28, 2017 3:44 pm

    … or dare we say, “Awesomesauce!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Iambizi permalink
    October 28, 2017 4:03 pm

    awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. October 28, 2017 6:15 pm

    Awesome! Like you, I am hopeful. Yes, our lives are dramatically different, but meaningful. That’s where the hope lies, in purpose, in loving relationships, in the gift of family and community.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. October 28, 2017 9:30 pm

    I’ve done that interview too. I hope my input was valuable. My wife recently did one that I didn’t qualify for, for mothers with bipolar or mothers with kids who have bipolar. Being both of those seemed to really interested them. Being hereditary, you’d think it’d be a common combination. All of our kids are adopted, that that’s a little odd.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 28, 2017 9:41 pm

      This was actually my second time participating in research. I’ve also done one that was strictly for bipolar 1’s. That wasn’t half as in-depth as this one.

      Interesting that your adopted kids have bipolar along with your wife. I’ll bet the researchers found that fascinating!

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 28, 2017 10:25 pm

        It would seem unlikely, but teens who are in foster care have a *much* higher rate of mental illness than the general population. depression, bipolar, and ptsd seem the most prevalent. One of our adopted kids has borderline and severe anxiety as well. One of the foster kids we didn’t adopt had really bad hallucinations. He was 12, so they didn’t want to label him.

        Liked by 1 person

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