Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Introduction To My Experience With Bipolar I

Guest Blogger Lilas Green

My name is Lilas. I am twenty-two years old and was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder when I was sixteen. At first, I refused to believe this; told no one and self-medicated with cocaine, Valium and obsessive exercise. Although I had been seeing a psychiatrist for years, it took me losing my job, my boyfriend, my apartment and almost my life to confront my demons and accept that I had an illness and needed medication.

This was a terrifying idea; I was much happier with the excuse that the reason for my crippling depression was because my mother had died when I was fourteen and I was “excitable” at times because I was a teenager. This is what I had led myself, and everyone around me to believe.

When I finally understood the seriousness of my illness and the reality that it could kill me, I found myself in a very lonely place. I was nineteen and no matter how much I tried to explain the suicidal voices, the religious hallucinations and the dangerous behavior to the people close to me, they were unable to understand.

People were just unable to accept that it wasn’t because I was a particularly wild child that I broke into that guys house naked or rode my bike around London for miles in my bikini or disappeared with that random drug dealer for days, but because I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. There is nothing harder than accepting you have a mental illness then having to convince everyone around you that you are mentally ill. This is where I found myself.

Even now, three years, two in-patient hospital trips and a lot of medication later, I am baffled to find that a few friends still seem suspicious of my illness and I know this is due to the taboo that still surrounds mental health and not their trust in my character.

This is why I am happy to contribute to this blog, because Bipolar is a still a tricky subject and if I can help educate others through my mistakes and successes then something helpful is coming out of this illness.

- Lilas Green

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coping with Death of Loved One When Bipolar

My last post, in mid-December, was titled "Bipolar? How to Survive the Holidays." It turns out that it wasn't me who had trouble surviving the holidays, but my mother.

My mother, at 67 years of age, had an aneurysm burst in her brain in the 22nd of December. She passed away after a week of unresponsiveness in the hospital. She hadn't even been sick. The family was looking forward to celebrating Christmas Eve at her home. I'm still in shock, and miss her so much.

As an only child, the tasks of making medical decisions for mom in the hospital, arranging the funeral and settling her affairs and estate all fall on me. These sad practicalities on top of all the grief. It's been a couple of rough months for me and my family. The kids were very close to mom, and we are slowly trying to help them cope and work through their grief.

Grief + Bipolar Disorder =
Having had bipolar disorder for decades, I know that, when loved ones are in critical situations, I rarely fall apart, but instead go into autopilot and do what I can to help out and manage the situation. Thankfully, that's what happened again. That being said, I can't say enough about how crucial it is to STAY ON MEDS when faced with stress and chaos (and the rest of the time as well).

Bipolar Medications and Change of Routine
My mother lived about an hour away from us. And there were several times when I had to race up to her hospital or stay overnight in her town. On at least two nights, I either did not pack anything, or forgot to include my meds when packing, a dangerous situation. My advice for anyone with bipolar disorder is to always keep a little bit of emergency medication in your car, purse or wallet, somewhere that you have access to all the time, so that if you don't remember to bring your medications with you when traveling, you still have an emergency stash to carry you through.

In addition to the possibility that missing a dose of bipolar medication will precipitate a manic or depressive episode, people with the disorder and more vulnerable to manic depression when under stress, sleep deprived or during a change in routine, making it especially important to take meds during hard times.

Moral of the story for those with bipolar disorder...doesn't always seems to revolve around having bipolar medication? If you are not on any, get a prescription for appropriate meds. If you take meds for your disorder, remember to ALWAYS take them, particularly when life goes haywire and you need to hold yourself and family together.

Love you mom!