But I’m not totally convinced. I seem to be on a much more level plane then I’ve been on for the last 20 some years, if not my whole life, I’m not sure. My past before being diagnosed with Bipolar 23 years ago last week was so different. (see “I Was A Different Person Then”). I won’t go into all that because I did so already. But things are different now, again, in a new way. Earlier this year I was put on Lamictal (Lamotrigine), a mood stabilizer, in addition to Abilify (Aripiprazole), Wellbutrin (Bupropion), Buspar (Buspirone) and Klonopin (Clonazapam). For the first time ever, a medication has actually changed my life. I still spend some time in depression, but it’s mostly not that bad and I can usually overcome it with CBT and smart thinking and action. And I’m not too high either, tho I did try to get off 13 years of Abilify a few months ago (it makes me shake terribly and I hate it) and I had a really bad reaction, so bad I thought I was going to lose it completely. It was the closest to real mania I’ve come in years. So I went back on the drug and I’ve been OK since then. (I had my Psychiatrist’s permission and support to quit, BTW).
I remember telling my counselor at the time that I was struggling with this new reality, because I didn’t know who I was anymore if I wasn’t depressed all the time. I still feel that way, and it’s actually pushed me back into depression several times since then. Weird. You’d think I’d be totally at peace with this and be happy for myself. But it’s not that easy to change a lifetime of such inbred patterns of thinking and behaving. I Was depression in the past and it was my total life. It was hard on me, and on the people I loved around me. I could stop it occasionally, but not totally, and I suffered with it a lot. It was my daily reality and it informed all my decisions and actions way too much. I was scared all the time and afraid of being caught out as a loser. Too much fear is paralyzing and I was often paralyzed. I still am to some extent but not nearly so much. I am better now.
I’m gradually learning to accept and revel in the “new” me. I just had a counseling session with my new counselor and he asked me to do a narrative of my life – positive and negative. I found myself listing tons of positive things about my life, but not that many negative ones. A total surprise to me. In the past it would have been much more tilted the other way towards extreme negativity. When I’m depressed it’s all I can see, and it’s the same way with being OK I guess. I Am my emotions way too much and if I’m doing well I think l’ve always done well, despite the memories of the failures and awfulness of depression. When I’m depressed it’s the opposite and it’s all I can see and feel.
Staying balanced is a real struggle for me even now. But I can do it most of the time. I’m amazed, but still frightened by the new me. I still don’t know how to interact or be with people very well. I still fall back into the old patterns of depression if I don’t keep up my guard all the time. But I have real support in my partner Louie, and with my friends, my counselor and psychiatrist and other health care folks. So I think maybe I can do this. I sure do hope so, tho hope can be a trap too if you’re not careful. Just ask a student of Buddhism. Today is my 67th birthday and perhaps it’s the start of a new reality for me. A truly new year of life. I think it could be and I’m trying to believe so much that I can pull it off. I have a lot of faith in myself these days, and it’s not based in my usual hypomania, but in reality for a change. Plus I’m older and wiser now. I understand myself, and life in general, much better. Staying real and giving it time are my current mantras. Maybe I really am doing OK now… Time will tell.