|There IS a difference in the brain with bipolar depression|
Today felt like a monumentally bad day. The kind of bad day that makes me want to reach out to the world, cuff it upside the head, and tell everyone to smarten up.
It's wonderful that there is an increasing awareness about mental health. There are PSA's, news articles, and even mental health first aid courses. Barriers and preconceptions are being broken down... sort of. With treatment, people can live normal productive lives. What they don't tell you about is the reality of living with the diagnosis.
When people talk about bipolar disorder, they often only think of manic episodes. Someone running around, doing crazy things, talking to themselves, yelling, and even becoming violent. They don't realize that there is such a thing as type 2 bipolar. Type 2 includes extreme lows, and some people don't ever experience extreme mania. Well that seems simple enough. Let's just toss some antidepressants at it and you're good to go. But it's not that simple. Straight antidepressants for bipolar disorder isn't good, and you need mood stabilizers to to level you out.
Okay, so that helps, but what about the other issues that often coexist with bipolar disorder? Wait, you didn't know that other disorders can manifest along with bipolar? Yup, bipolar is just one big barrel of fun. There is anxiety, which can include social phobias, paralyzingly panic attacks, perfectionism, and even PTSD. Then we toss in a dash of OCD too. So let's throw a cocktail of meds at it. These two don't quite do it, so let's add on a third. Oh wait, the OCD isn't fully controlled, so let's add a fourth. Oh by the way, these meds have side affects. One of them causes significant acid reflux, which uncontrolled can cause 9 cavities in less than a year. (That is so much fun when you have PTSD as a result of being assaulted by a dentist.)The acid wear also turns your teeth yellow. Untreated, acid reflux can also cause esophageal ulcers, or even esophageal cancer. So toss more meds at the acid reflux, and there you go. Hang on, the acid reflux pills interfere with magnesium absorption. Cue dizzy spells and full body tremors, so tweak up the psych meds and add supplements. There's no reason to worry about it though, because the brain fog and poor memory will help you forget about it.
That's it for side affects, right? Everything is under control? Nope. All of these meds gives you the metabolism of a sloth, and also an insatiable appetite. Talk about a bad combo, and then bring on the weight. Except the doctors don't say that they cause weight gain any more, the meds are just weight positive (snort, guffaw). Oh wait, you've never heard of any one gaining 40lbs in a month? Yup, welcome to bipolar land.
Okay, so that has got to be everything now. Wrong! One of the scariest symptoms of bipolar is suicide. Even with treatment, some people still lose the battle. Other people are fortunate enough to find treatments that work, and are able to fight off suicide. That's a good thing! However now you face the long term effects of psych meds. People diagnosed with a bipolar disorder can see their life expectancy drop by about 15 years. There is due to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease. Say goodbye to you're thyroid and eventually your kidneys too. Oh... and kiss your knees farewell because of the weight gain, and brace for the titanium replacements.
So yes, bipolar disorder is treatable. But it comes with sacrificing the rest of your body. It's a decision that you have to remake every day as you choke down another handful of pills. It's hard. It's so damn hard! You fight to maintain your mental stability, and to be a productive member of society. The only problem is that when you are successful at mental health, people don't know about the sacrifice of your body. You are judged by your appearance and stamina. People giving sideways looks as you are left breathless after a flight of stairs. People staring at you in a restaurant or grocery store, judging you by your weight and comparing it to your choice of food. The barely disguised look of disgust when a stranger realizes that they have to sit beside you on an airplane. People also seem to assume that fat people aren't as bright as skinny people. My guess is that if they think someone is incapable of maintaining a healthy weight, they must not be able to make smart choices. It's incredibly frustrating to know that people are assuming you're too lazy to take care of your health, when in reality you are making the difficult choice to sacrifice it.
In a nutshell, don't judge someone by their outward appearance. You never know what kind of a battle they are fighting. Just let me buy my leeks and rutabaga in peace.
Now a comment from The Wizard. Click here to read my story.