I've been reading a LOT about bipolar lately, though it's really been following severe mental illness in general (schizophrenia, paranoia, bipolar, borderline personality disorder...). I've joined the group Thrive with Bipolar Disorder on Facebook (Side note: it would be super nice if I could keep those comments from going to my friends newsfeeds. Not that I wouldn't share that much of myself anyway, but I feel like it can be off-putting for friends that aren't on that level of "there" yet with the illness...), I read blogs, and follow what books are coming out. I follow all kinds of information about mental illness; marriage, children, pregnancy, individual responsibility, legal proceedings, scientific breakthroughs...everything I can get my hands on. I've been keeping track of it in a strange way, as always, a combination of my memory, bookmarks on my computer, sharing with family and friends... Anyway, I feel that method isn't working anymore and now that I am 6 days away from my commencement ceremony and have no undergraduate work left my goal is to post all of that stuff on here to keep better track of it. Starting today! :)
I just read this article about the difficulty knowing the difference between pre-hypomania and exuberance. As always when I read anything I immediately apply it to my experience, and my life. This actually has been a life saver in my last few weeks of the semester since I've found Thrive on Facebook. I've been able to focus on things I do in relation to others questions. But I digress, returning to the article at hand I realized how lucky I am to have the family and friends that support me unconditionally and are able to be objective about my moods. I think the best part is they are objective in different ways, which lets me figure out who I am and how I feel about my moods.
In the last 4 years I have met and married the best husband on the face of the planet. Totally a biased opinion, but it's mine and this is my blog so that's what I'm sharing. Terry and I have worked together to create a "mood map" of sorts for my bipolar to help figure out when things need attention and when they don't. It's not perfect, and it will forever be a work in progress, but its allowed us lots of freedom in our relationship that I didn't experience when I was with the ex. That's been a really positive experience. Last weekend was really rough, Terry was at camp helping with cub scouts, and I was supposed to be studying. Instead, since there is so much happening in my life right now my brain went into overdrive and I didn't sleep at all. However, because of our "mood map" I knew that I was going to be ok. I could text & check in, there was no freaking out. I could vocalize that I'm stressed, scared, and too much is changing at once. He knew that before he left town so there was no worry about the huge impact my mood had on my Facebook updating. We came up with a plan together for how to handle it, I did some little things that mean a lot to me (haircut with shampoo, eyebrow wax, shopping), I spent time with my best friend who understands me better than I understand myself. We focused on conversation and each other and her beautiful baby.
In my experience pre-hypomania and exuberance can be the same thing. The end result depends immensely on how I treat the feelings when they happen. Because of the "mood map" and my exposure to people who love me and have been around for a long time, who have seen me develop through the bipolar, who have stood by me when I needed help the most, I can actually turn pre-hypomania into exuberance and prevent the whole thing in the first place. Currently I still have anxiety/panic bordering on heart attack all the time lately, I'm still losing feeling in my extremities and having trouble with circulation, but its stress. There's a lot of changes happening. My long term claim is under review again, I'm finishing a whole chapter of my academic career and preparing for something completely new and scary. Not only new and scary, but new and scary and with all new people. That's enough to make me have a panic attack all by itself. I just keep reminding myself how amazing everyone I encountered in my last bit of undergrad has been with my illness. It's been infinitely better than the way corporate America treated me. That makes the panic disappear a little. I'm still packing. I'll be living out of as many suitcases as I can fit in Terry's Ion come June 1st.