It has occurred to me over this short, mild summer that for the first time since I don’t know when, I haven’t had the slightest inclination toward becoming manic or even hypomanic. I’m calmer on the higher dose of antidepressant, and I have the Klonopin as backup. But I haven’t needed it except for a couple of nights ago, and that was only because I couldn’t shut my brain up long enough to go to sleep.
More importantly, there has been a subtle shift in the way I view all of the crap that’s happened to me in the past 7 1/2 years, and I don’t think it’s going back. You can’t un-know the known. I’ve reached the point in my bipolar life that I no longer see mania or hypomania as something to be sought after. I hate depression like nobody’s business, but mania truly is not my friend. It’s been long enough since my last big hurrah that I’ve gained some perspective and I remember how little control I had when I was full-blown manic. I did so many stupid and foolish things; spent money I didn’t have on things I didn’t need, endangered life and limb flying low on the interstate, and screwed myself out of jobs because I couldn’t keep myself stable for longer than a couple of months.
As a result, I’ve had many, many medication adjustments over the years which have brought me to this place of peace and acceptance. It amazes me to look back over the years and see how much has changed. How much being in control has changed me. I’m sure some of it is plain old-fashioned maturity, but I have to credit my treatment for at least part of it. I was somewhat of a case of arrested development before I got sick. I didn’t have enough insight at that time to know that, though. I just thought I was a little slow at this adulting business…if I thought about it at all.
Then there was the diagnosis, and all hell broke loose. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time know what I’ve been through with this illness; I invite newer readers to check out the archives for stories about my difficulties with reining it in. I still have very minor episodes of depression and maybe a little hypomania once in a while, but I haven’t been suicidal in five years and I haven’t alienated anyone by my outrageous conduct at the top of the mood scale.
It’s not perfect by any means, and sometimes the process slips a bit. I still tend to think people are mad at me when they don’t speak to me or when they make vague complaints about something that involves me; but I have just enough emotional IQ now to think about it and understand that not everything has to do with me, so I don’t take stuff personally like I used to. This has saved me countless times when Ben snaps at me or my other kids don’t call or text me as often as I wish they would. (Lately, however, I’ve been in frequent contact with all three of the others and we have had some great conversations. I love it!)
Hell, I’m not even tempted to mess with my meds anymore. I didn’t do it back in the spring when I usually lose my shit, and I’m not doing it now when it’s September and this is the OTHER time of year when I tend to be a little wacky. I know deep down that they are the only things keeping me from destroying myself, and obviously I don’t want that to happen. Other than recent (and ongoing) stresses, my life is pretty good, and who wants to screw that up?
The other significant thing that’s happened is my sister Louise has moved in with her daughter in Maine. She flew out early yesterday morning with her little dog, who was understandably upset about being confined to a carrier. It’s for the best; she will get more attention there than Ben or I were able to give. I will miss her, and it was an awful realization when I hugged her that it would probably be for the last time. Maine is about as far away from Oregon as you can get and still be in the continental U.S. I wish her well and hope she and my niece will be able to get along OK. I think they’ll do fine, my niece is a tough lady who can stand up to just about anyone. It’s a skill she’s developed over years of a hard life. She’ll need it, because one of Louise’s little personality quirks is to make a fuss over something—often something trivial, like being handed a dessert fork instead of a regular fork—and then outwit, outplay, and outlast her opponent. (Ben and I both know this from experience.)
Anyway, I hope life will be gentle as the summer fades and the leaves change colors. I’m thankful that the bipolar bear is hibernating. And I welcome the peace and quiet that not struggling with it brings.