Quick Update on My Crazy(ish)ness

This will be a little more dry than my other posts; I mostly just wanted to get some updated info out. Primarily, I’m doing better than I was a few weeks ago and I’m making some positive progress, which is the rest of what’s below.

Two weeks ago, after my previous post regarding my mental condition, I started seeing a therapist. Yesterday I got a second opinion/confirmation on my bipolar II disorder. For the time being at least, my treatment plan is not going to involve medication. We’re focusing on ways to identify and manage my mood and mind state first. As long as that has some positive effect and progress we’ll keep going that direction. If I’m not seeing real improvement with those techniques, then we’ll look into a medication plan.

The first major part of this is identifying and controlling triggers for mood shifts. A lot of it in my case seems to be external stimuli. The main point of me saying this is: don’t expect me to be going out a whole lot to bars, shows, etc. any time soon. And for that matter, I’ve already cut alcohol and caffeine down to as close to zero as possible since they seem to be the most obvious triggers. That being said, I’m keeping a running journal with my day-to-day state and other factors like diet, sleep, life events and such to find out exactly what factors are the most important specifically for me to keep under control. Once we have a better understanding of that I should hopefully get back to more regular activity and behavior.

Aside from a big general “thank you” to everyone who has given me support and well wishes, that’s pretty much all I wanted to say. Feel free to ask me about anything, though.

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Confessions of a Crazy(ish) Person

I really have no idea how to start this. I think rather than starting with the right thing, I’ll start with the important thing — an apology, so here goes… Sorry to, I’m pretty sure at this point, basically every person who has to deal with me on a semi-regular basis. Sorry for being distant, unreliable, unresponsive, frequently selfish, confusing, and in general for the times that I am a burden.

After a long time of doing what I can to keep my issues to myself, I’ve just decided to be as honest and forthright as I can possibly can be. I think some explanation is necessary at this point for people to understand why I’ve been acting the way I do. I have (as-of-yet untreated) characterization “mD” (hypomanic depressive) bipolar II disorder with severe onset depressive-associated generalized anxiety disorder and insomnia. I’m aware I’m putting a lot of stigma on myself for all that mess, but I’ll explain my symptoms and let you all judge for yourselves what you actually think of it. I’m not looking for sympathy, I don’t want to be treated any differently, and I’m guessing for quite a few people this is going to just be like “well that figures.”

I also really have no idea how to properly organize the rest of what I want to say so it might be a little messy. Bear with me.

Battling with depressive symptoms has pretty much always just been “normal” for me, ever since I was a teenager. There have been a few things that have perpetually made me just want to handle it myself and not admit that it is a bigger problem than I wanted to address. First, tons of teenagers are “angsty” or whatever, and I was fairly self-aware about it even at that age. In retrospect, I’m quite sure that means that it was way more severe than a normal teenager, but I didn’t really know that at the time. Going along with that, most major depression could be blamed on life events (losing my fiancée, shitty things at work, rejection, money, etc.) so I didn’t really think the problem was ME, necessarily. Second, going though long states of hypomania makes you feel like everything is totally cool. If you don’t understand what I mean, manic-depressive disorders don’t usually mean you’re bouncing off the walls and going nuts, it mostly just means you’re happy and energetic, especially hypomania in particular as it means the highs are less high but the lows can be just as low. In other words, you feel like how you hear most people are supposed to feel. When depressive states hit in waves, it’s really easy to justify it as just being sad temporarily or not a real problem. The third, and most important, part of this is that there is a major mind state that if you feel depressed, you “buck up and deal with it” or however you want to phrase it. Stated more simply, being sad should never impede on being able to live your life. If it does, you’re just whiny and lazy. I’ve made conscious decisions to be outwardly positive as much as possible as a way to fight back against what’s going on with me a lot of the time.

The point of all that is to say for the most part, I’ve been able to keep a handle on my bullshit and live a relatively normal life for the last 16 years, but right now it’s kicking my ass and I felt like I at least had to explain my behavior to other people. Also, the escalation of my symptoms recently made me realize that something is truly, actually wrong beyond some random bouts of depression, and it made me reach of for a real analysis of what my situation is. I think that’s a good thing, because looking at behavior through the lens of symptoms of a condition provokes a lot less self-loathing than thinking, “I’m a worthless pile, why have I been cuddling with a stuffed shark in bed without sleeping or eating for two days?”

As I mentioned before, I get extreme generalized anxiety symptoms onset with my periods of depression. Honestly, this is more of the reason why I’m having problems at the moment compared with just being down. It is unbelievably difficult to have a productive day in any way when even thinking about making a phone call to a stranger makes you physically feel sick. And it is an absolutely terrible daily cycle: start the day worrying excessively about something that shouldn’t be a big deal, which then means I start being self-conscious about how crazy I know I am for it because it’s not rational, which then means I get anxious about the fact that I’m anxious and none of it ever resolves itself. Or at night: I can’t sleep, so then I think and worry about the fact that I can’t sleep, which makes me more anxious and then even less likely to be able to fall asleep. It is not fun.

In an awful way, it’s sort of funny to look at my ridiculous anxious behavior in retrospect. But it also hopefully displays how debilitating it can actually be. Fun facts… When I last moved, I didn’t stop paying my cable bill for well over a year because I was so scared of calling them to cancel. I’ve gotten pulled over three times for expired tabs, every time because I was just too nervous to go to the DMV and get it taken care of. My license has been expired since my birthday for the same reason. My last house’s mortgage went into default because I was just too freaked out to call them about a payment issue. I am well aware there is no justifiable excuse for any of this crap that will make any sense to people, but I think that’s kind of the point. That being said, simply answering a phone call or responding to a text will honestly freak me the hell out sometimes. Not to mention actually spending time doing things in public and such. If I’ve blown you off before, there’s a really good chance this is why.

For those reading this far I’m sure you’re likely confused about some of this. How come sometimes I’m outgoing, fun, etc? Well, again, some of it is the hypomanic symptoms and thus my attitude is going to change a fair amount outside of my control. A lot of it is super intentional; like I said, I try very hard to be that way if I can control it. I don’t enjoy being a downer or being sad. The other thing, which is probably not a big shock, is alcohol. I learned years ago that MOST of the time, I can self-medicate with booze very easily to alleviate the social portions of my anxiety. When I know I’m “supposed” to be having fun I know I can prepare myself in that way. I think I can objectively say it’s not a dependency or anything since I drink usually once or twice a week generally at most. However, the downside is that it lends itself to binge drinking because it is a very legitimate escape. I’ve battled back and forth a hundred times on whether I should cut alcohol out of my life completely but I always come to the same realization. If I can’t turn myself into the outgoing, fun drunk guy when I need to, it’s just a matter of fact that most people don’t like me all that much. And being that I know all this shit about myself, I certainly don’t blame them.

Now that all of this has been written, I can’t say for certain whether I wrote it more to benefit myself or everyone else reading it. I do know that I enjoy the fact that I’ve put it out there officially, even if it’s just for me to read. Catharsis is a real thing. Either way, to finish up, thank you if you’ve taken the time to take all of this in. And an even bigger thank you to the people in my life who’ve put up with my bullshit over the years, and particularly in the past few months. It hasn’t been great, but you guys have helped more than you know.