Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Piece of the Puzzle - By Terry Coyier

Being bipolar is a royal pain in the butt, no doubt about it. But, when I was first diagnosed it was actually a relief to me. Finally there was an answer. The answer meant I was “crazy,” but it made perfect sense. It explained away so many things. I had a reason for why I lashed out at people and why I was suspicious of everyone’s intentions towards me and why I could be so joyful one minute and so glum the next. Then to find out that I could take some pills and feel better, I was nearly beside myself with the glorious expectations. Couple that with some therapy and I would be “normal.”

Well, I was consumed with being bipolar. I read everything I could get my hands on. I enlisted family and friends to act as my support group and to serve as my guinea pigs. Everything I learned I tested out on one of them. Did this example fit my behavior? Did I act this way or that way? What about such and such? I monitored my moods, my dreams, my meds, my cycles, my side effects, my habits, others habits, how many times I let the dog out – okay not that one, my triggers, my warning signs, even my chocolate intake! I was finally monitored out!

But I was bipolar and that was something. So, I was doing just fine and decided to switch meds (with the approval of my pdoc) because I had somehow gone from a size 7 to a size 14! Big mistake. Just inside of 6 weeks I landed in the ICU for a 4-day visit and then another 5 days in the psychiatric hospital. This was a great hospital though (with the exception of one grouchy nurse who thought she was a doctor). I was well taken care of, it was clean, the group therapy was actually productive and I got back on the right meds again.

I had outpatient therapy for about two weeks after I was released from the hospital. The therapy there was wonderful as well. I learned the proper responses to difficult situations. I learned I wasn’t the meanest person in Texas (there was another guy there who took my spot!). I learned how to fight fair and express my feelings. Most important, I learned how to give up control.

Now, control is a big issue for me. I don’t like to be in situations that I don’t have control. It’s not an ego related problem, it’s an “I don’t have control over my feelings, so I will control everything else” problem. It took me a long time to get to this point. I had been reading self-help books for half my life (13 years) and thought I had some idea of how things worked. Ha! I was still pretty clueless. But, now I was finally getting somewhere. Unfortunately it was at a snail’s pace.

Control isn’t relinquished at the drop of a hat. Especially a triple Aries with a type A personality! This is one obstinate ram here, and with red hair and green eyes, I am as pigheaded as they come. Very slowly I came around. I’m not completely there yet, but I’m still relentless in my quest.

Terry J. Coyier is a 37-year-old college student studying for an Associates of Applied Sciences degree. She is also a freelance writer who writes about bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Terry was diagnosed with bipolar ten years ago. She lives with her son in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. Terry is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers and her personal portfolio can be viewed here.

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