If you live close to me—that is, if you know me closely—then you probably know that I am bipolar. And if you don’t know that, well, surprise, and congratulations! You’ve just learned another Kim Fact.
But, truly, this should be no surprise. It is just a fact about my chemical and biological make-up. It is a fact just as it is a fact that my hair is red or that I cannot wink my left eye or that I talk in my sleep. It is a fact just as it is a fact that I do not like black licorice or olives or melon. It is simply a part of who I am.
And yet it is huge. It is terribly important that I recognize and accept this thing that is considered a “disorder.” So important that much of my day today was affected by this disorder.
Here is how it goes: I take several medications to keep my depression at bay and they work really well. I have not had any problems with depression in years, largely because I stick with a regimen of meds, med management, therapy, and self-care. But one of the medications I take helps me sleep. And sometimes it works too well. I have a terrible time waking up. Ask anyone who’s been in my bedroom. They’ll tell you about the three hour difference between my alarm clock and real time. They’ll tell you about the therapeutic light box I have set to a timer in the fall and winter. They’ll tell you about the many alarms I have set on my cell phone. And, if that person is brave enough to spend the night, they’ll tell you how long those alarms have to beep and wail and ding before I am fully awake.
Usually, the thing that wakes me the most is the reality that I’ve overslept. That’s what happened this morning. And, ironically enough, oversleeping caused me to be late to an appointment with the person that prescribes these meds. So my day began with a large awareness of how my brain and body functions. It began with a large awareness of my truth.
I talked with my psychiatric nurse practitioner this morning about my mental health history. I’ve been seeing her for six or seven years now, and in that time I’ve been on at least a dozen different medications. She is my own personal chemist. She has found, through much trial and error, the perfect combination of chemicals to keep my brain balanced and functioning as it should.
I asked her today something I’ve wanted to ask for a long time: Will I be on meds forever?
She sat back, thought for a moment, and as she did it was easy to tell that she knew the answer before I ever asked the question.
“Yes,” she told me. She explained that my history of mental illness (the phrase equated with the terms mood disorder, depression, bi-polar, and bi-polar spectrum) dictated my future. I have struggled with depression for a long time; therefore I will need to take measures to prevent it for a long time.
I can do that. I have no problem with being told that I will have to take medication for the rest of my life. I have no problem knowing that I will need to make sure that I have a good job so that I have good insurance so that I can afford to see practitioners so that they can prescribe medications for which I will need insurance so that I can pay for them so that I will not be depressed so that I can have a good job. And so on.
It’s a big deal for me to be so open about all of this now, and, truthfully, I don’t know why I have written so much about it here. Perhaps it’s because I couldn’t think of anything else to write tonight. Perhaps it’s because it’s been on my mind for most of the day. Perhaps it’s because it is my truth and I have decided that, to celebrate National Blog Posting Month, I will continue to explore my truths, in writing, right here in front of your very eyes.