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.


20 responses to “Bipolar Kicks My Ass”

  1. […] Previously Published on kittomalley.com […]

  2. Thank you, Jess. Wish you the best living with your new diagnosis. God bless.

  3. We did find laughter among the tears. Thank you.

  4. Same thing happened to me. I’m bipolar 1 now not bipolar 2. Life is strange. Sending prayers.

  5. A burden shared is a burden lightened. I relate and appreciate you sharing your experiences. My prayers are with you and your family. Experiencing the loss in f your father so recently will be heartbreaking. I hope you Aldo find further healing through this. Enjoy your family! If they’re like mine you will find laughter amongst the tears.

  6. I’m not alone. I have a husband. He works as a civil engineer. He’s my rock (though an anxious one). Thank you for your support!

  7. GREAT PIC by the way! Whoo whoo!

  8. I was very grieved when my dx jumped from BP I ro BP II. But it didn’t change anything. I was still me. And yes, pretty high functioning at that. You DO kick its a$$. You ARE pretty high functioning. Taking care of your son alone is a major thing that not all BPs are able to do. Anyway dx or no, you are still very Kitt. xo

  9. Thank you so much.

  10. Exactly. Thank you.

  11. Honestly, I held onto it as if it made a difference. It doesn’t. Bipolar sucks no matter the type. I was deluding myself about the severity of my illness. Yes, some of us struggle more than others. Such is the nature of the disease, a spectrum disorder.

  12. Alura, thank you so much for your thoughtful reply and your prayers. God bless you. I love your advice to take pause and de-escalate. Thank you for having faith in me. Thank you for reaching out and offering me support and friendship.

  13. Dear Kitt,
    Prayers for you and your family during this difficult time. I’m so sorry that you have been dealing with the ups and downs of bipolar 1 disorder. You’re in good company, bur that doesn’t make dealing with the disease easier.

  14. Hugs. As you yourself said, “high functioning” is internalized stigma, and so is viewing any one label as more or less than another. You are you, and you are still a person worthy in and of herself whether your symptoms are at a peak or a trough. Hugs.

  15. Welcome to the bipolar 1 club. A club nobody wants to belong to, of course, but you’re in good company, like Carrie Fisher and Patty Duke. You know I too was first diagnosed with bipolar 1 when I was hospitalized, but I didn’t really believe the diagnosis until I received the same one from multiple other mental healthcare providers.
    Just remember, your diagnosis does not define you any more than bipolar 2 did. You are a vital, competent, wonderful human being who helps so many people. Hold your head high and keep up the good work!

  16. I want to share words with you. I have been a follower of your blog for what feels like awhile now. I was connecting to you when I was lost deep in the throes of unmedicated Bipolar Type I symptoms. I was all gung ho about going natural and through my struggles I found your blog to be a source of comfort, a friend and comrade in the similar battle for our being we face moment to moment.
    I’m sorry you are going through the depth of stress that bipolarity can create. I have severe triggers as well that make life very difficult in those moments. But I hope you have found, as I have, that even in the darkest moments, you are going to swing through to another high. It might not be for a few days as you go through this trying time but in these moments I remind myself to be the closest version of myself I can manage in triggering moments.
    I don’t know your details but I at least know you’re a mom. That’s the key that keeps me fighting through my lows and through my anxiety and through raging manic frustrations. So many different aspects of my bipolarity take me to be someone different than I wish to be. And so in those moments where I have the self awareness to realize my triggers are being flipped and I am spiraling into another episode, I try to give myself time to pause before I react to any event or situation in my state. Because I have come to realize that when I am spiraling I am not the best judge of any situation nor representative of the person I want to be in situations.
    De-escalation is the key for me during those high stress times. I try to think whatever thoughts will bring relief to my mind. I conjure thoughts of things that make me happy in my good moments. I bring to mind the past lows that I was able to come through (if I can remember them). I wear extra comfortable clothes. I drink my calming coffee concoction. I guess when I am in those high stress situations I try to wrap my mind around that as being the time for me to get the chance to do the most work on myself and so I put forth effort to make lessons easier to learn.
    So I guess my thought is that this period is a chance to stretch your legs and see how far you have come in your bipolar journey and where your efforts for the future would best be directed. I have faith that you will see yourself through this. You are taking the steps to manage your symptoms, you are walking with an awareness that you are facing an event that will be a struggle for you. You have the tools and gifts to get through this. I believe in you.
    And if you need someone to talk to or vent at or release the overwhelming sensation of not being able to control the things you need to control to manage your symptoms or whatever else you would like to discuss I am around at exploringalura@gmail.com. I know I’m a stranger but stranger things have happened than two people finding friendship over their shared pieces of being alive.
    I sincerely hope and pray for all the well wishes you need to get through this period. My heart and mind will think of you and hope for the peace we all seek to feel. I pray for your relief of your symptoms. I pray for your comfort in being alive moment to moment. And more than anything, I hope for your happiness in every moment, no matter the high or low wave of emotion your bipolarity might bring.

  17. Thanks for the prayers. God bless. Pray for your health, too.

  18. As a diagnostic criteria, once someone with bipolar 2 is hospitalized, their diagnosis changes to bipolar 1. Hospitalization indicates that symptoms are severe enough for bipolar 1 diagnosis.
    Severe episodes have a negative effect on our brain, too. That’s why it’s so important to nip them in the bud. Doing so by taking medication before I head to more severe symptoms, as I feel like that’s where I’m heading right now.

  19. Prayers sent and i too went from bipolar 2 to 1 when i went to the hospital. I don’t get it really

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