Happy Sad Faces

“Have you considered you might be bipolar?”

“No, I suggest you look in your diagnosis book for another diagnosis.”

That was the last conversation I had with my therapist before I received a Facebook posts from my aunt recommending that all my family members be checked for bipolar disorder.  Before the conversation, my only experience with bipolar disorder was dealing with two of my sisters.  That was not pretty.  I remember them sleeping at all hours of the day.  Their vast mood swings from very happy to very sad.  Some days I just couldn’t deal with them and I would just walk away.  I felt guilty for not being tolerant of people with mental health disorders.  Even in their happy moments it was too much for me.

After receiving that Facebook post I decided to call a few of my aunts to ask about our family health issues.  Apparently bipolar runs rampant in our family.  Many choose three courses of treatment — self medication —  proper medication via a doctor, or denial and therefore no treatment at all.  I was looking like I was heading down the denial path.  However, I knew something was wrong with me.  My husband knew something was wrong with me.  The look in my kids eyes when I was out of control definitely told me something was wrong with me.  I needed help.  Back to the therapist.

I told her about my new found revelation, over 20 members of my family were diagnosed bipolar.  Some my aunts felt weren’t diagnosed, but definitely showed signs including as far back as my grandmother.  I guess I could say I wasn’t alone.  What I knew about bipolar and how I thought I acted were so different.  Add to the fact, the media.  Their portrayal of bipolar and mental health issues certainly didn’t help.  I didn’t feel “crazy”,  off a little definitely.  My symptoms included being incredibly fatigued.  Just tired all the time day and night no matter what I needed and desired intense sleep.  Irritability.  I would get angry for no reason.  Well no reason in my reasonable mind.  For example, if I saw a tiny speck of a paper on the floor you’d think the world was coming to an earth crashing halt and I wanted someone to do something about it.  Okay, a little cray cray admittedly.

As far as I could tell family history, fatigue, and irritability seemed to be the three major reasons for accepting my diagnosis.  Coupled with the nurse practitioner trying to find a slew of medications that would work for me and none worked.  It literally took a year and a half before we found the one…Latuda.  It’s specifically designed for people with bipolar disorder.  Would you believe after taking it for nearly two years I still wonder at times if I’m really bipolar?  During my deeper darker days I wouldn’t have been able to write this post.  The medicine is not cheap, but it does work.  How do I know it works?  Recently, I was running low on medication.  I had to go down to half a pill until my new prescription came in the mail.  Boy could I feel the difference in a few days.  My irritability came back with a vengeance.  Ouch, I haven’t felt that feeling in a while.  No Bueno!

So why do I tell my story?  In hopes that if you see yourself here, check yourself.  Find out your family history.  Believe yourself when something feels off.  Find help.  You are not alone.