Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

So here is where it starts to get weird. The illness that my father has, that partly makes him who he is, is bipolar disorder. The topic of the book I was talking about a few days ago? Bipolar disorder. So of course, being the type who is unable to not count my eggs before they've hatched, I began compiling some online research resources yesterday. (Where I am in the process is I'm sending the magazine editor some clips and a resume tonight; she'll pass them along to the publisher tomorrow, and I should hear something in a few days. Yikes. I'm not sure what I'm hoping will happen, frankly...) Among them was a sort of mania index/quiz you could take. So, of course, I did. It pegged me as mildly to moderately manic. Which immediately made me moderately to extremely freaked out.

Let me back up a little. I've been afraid of bipolar disease since long before my father was diagnosed. Which is not some coincidence, but rather because *I* diagnosed him almost a decade before he finally had the psychotic break that caused the psychopharmacologist treating him to go "Oh! You mean he isn't simply clinically depressed?" Sheesh. Some day, sooner rather than later if I get to do this book, I will most likely blog about his disease and what it has--and hasn't--done to him, but that would just take me way too long today, and take me way too far off course. Suffice it to say, I knew about bipolar, and I knew about its genetic link, and I worried about what that might mean for me, and for E and N as well.

During my recent stint in therapy (yet another unblogged issue that definitely needs blogging), one of the things I addressed almost immediately with the therapist was how my panic-disorder/PTSD/whatever-the-fuck-was-making-me-crazy was a sign of or a precursor to mania. I told her about how my internist had been really, really, really careful with choosing an antidepressant for me, afraid that she might kick me into mania, and that that had made me paranoid (yes, a sign of bipolar) that she saw something in me that I wasn't seeing. The therapist nodded a lot and basically told me she'd keep an eye on me, and about three or four weeks later, she told me flat out that I wasn't bipolar, that she didn't see a single sign of it in me (despite seeing lots of other issues I needed to work on, of course) and that I should stop worrying about it because, at almost 40, I was unlikely to suddently turn into Mr. Hyde when I'd been kindly Dr. Jekyll all these years. That statement alone did me a world of good. I would have even said it cured me, until I took that quiz yesterday. (Damned web!)

Now, I know logically that the way I answered that quiz had everything to do with circumstance. I've been feeling quite good these past few days--powered, in no small part, by first getting a call from someone basically dropping a book contract in my lap, and then by spending a weekend in Las Vegas with my girlfriends. And I guess feeling really good can look an awful lot like mania...except in mania, it spirals into insanity, and with me, it's more likely than not simply going to spiral into my normal life taking over again. So I shouldn't be worried. I shouldn't be doubting myself. And yet, here I am. Worried. Doubting.

The take-home? I think we all need to hope I don't actually get to do this book, or we're all going to be in for several months of tortured self-doubt. Not to mention the poor physicians who I will torture with thinly veiled questions about myself when I'm supposed to be researching the book.

Yep. I'm mentally ill all right. It may not be bipolar disorder (or maybe it is!) but it's a mental illness all the same.

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