When I met with my psychiatrist yesterday, we discussed my diagnosis. I learned that since I’ve been hospitalized for bipolar symptoms, my diagnosis is type 1, not type 2.

Since I’ve been ramping since July third, we agreed it was time to add low dose quetiapine (Seroquel), a sedating and mood-stabilizing antipsychotic, to my medication mix. The medication enabled me to get a good night’s sleep last night, but it wiped me out today. Though I managed to take my son to two doctors’ appointments, I had to nap between the two.

Internalized Stigma

Desperately wanting to think of myself as “high functioning” (a judgmental and stigmatizing concept), I’ve held onto the belief that I have bipolar type 2, rather than type 1. Bipolar type 1 symptoms I’ve experienced include psychotic mania, rapid cycling, mixed episodes, two weeks of psychiatric hospitalization, and months of partial psychiatric hospitalization.

The truth is, I struggle with hypomania whenever stressed or overstimulated, then I cycle low as I must “recuperate” from the hypomania. I find simple tasks, like grocery shopping, difficult. I wish I could be the social butterfly I was many years ago, but today it comes at a steep cost — my mental health and stability.

Triggers Now

Next week I’m going to my uncle’s funeral and memorial in Illinois. I met him only once, last year at my father’s memorial. My aunt, who’s my godmother, met him later in life. I’ll be seeing my extended family under tragic circumstances.

Social gatherings trigger me. Stress triggers me. Grief, as it echoes the loss of my father, triggers me. The trip will be difficult, but I look forward to seeing my family, even as we grieve.
I’m almost 56. At this age, I’m losing my parents, aunts, and uncles. I expect more losses to come.
Prayers welcome for my aunt’s loss of her beloved husband and soul mate.