Jolene’s Story with Bipolar Disorder
Like others, I too experienced all the typical manic symptoms (rapid speech, giving things away, handing my credit card to everyone, sleeplessness).
But there are some big differences, too. This was in 1995; I was 34 years old, and had never had an episode. Until this.
I’ve still only had the one episode, but I’ve also been diligent with staying on lithium and clonezapam, as well as “doing what I’m told” as far as no caffeine in the afternoons/evening, no “self-medicating” with alcohol or other drugs. Also, if I get restless sleep one night, the next night I make sure I don’t stay up late or do any physical activity late or nothing to hype me up before bedtime. Things are going well.
Now and again, I feel a little hypomania, but it’s something I’ve been able to recognize, and just go chill out by myself (it helps that I’m single and live alone).
I’m hopeful that I won’t always have to be on this lithiumùsince I did only have one episode, though a severe one. (After a long, stressful work week I took “vacation” as a volunteer with a group of kids whom I didn’t knowùtraveling to some Canadian lakes where it is primitive wilderness (and I mean primitive) and bears and all. We drove nonstop for 24 hours, then upon arriving immediately dashed into the wilderness for this near-two-week stretch. The other leader was the only one who knew me, and I didn’t see him much, and he didn’t clue in to anything wrong until about day 7 or 8.)
Anyway, enough about that detail…I got back home, and thankfully into a hospital. But I was so far gone, that I refused to let them give me meds (thought they were trying to kill me) until a few days later. When I did receive meds, it was in such high dosages that I still leave doctors and psychiatrists gasping at the thought.
Needless to say if you know bipolars, it took me about six months to feel semi-decent again, and to return to my job, which requires a high-level of functioning and reasoning ability as well as social interaction. Wow, the worst six months of my life.
Like I said, I’m doing well now. And I do hope that, since it’s only happened once, I will be able to get off the lithium. An older sister of mine (and as family genealogy was researchedùmy grandma and several aunts) also had one episode. She is now off lithium and functioning well, so it gives me hope.