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[personal profile] elialshadowpine
At this point, I don't think there's anyone who hasn't heard about Robin Williams's death, ostensibly from suicide. Something that does bother me, perhaps more than the assholes that make comments about suicide being the coward's way out (and if this is something lurking in the back of your head, please read this essay, which is the most excellent I have read on the topic), is that the fact that Williams had bipolar disorder is all but forgotten.

I have bipolar disorder, type 2. This is generally considered the "less severe" type. I have no idea what type Robin Williams had, and it doesn't especially matter, since suicide is a risk factor for both types. I'm not entirely sure what I'm meaning to write here, but the rest is going to go under a cut with a general trigger warning for discussion of bipolar disorder, depression, suicide, coping mechanisms, related etc.

This strikes very close to home for me because Williams committed suicide shortly after receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson's. I went through a very rough period before I got my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, because the symptoms were so bad, and I could not manage or cope. The specialists I had seen were not helping, and I didn't have the money to get the multitude of tests I really needed. The only reason I got my diagnosis is because my amazing primary care doctor of the time noticed two tests hadn't been run, he ran them, and what came back he said suggested an autoimmune disorder, so I was sent to the doctor he personally recommended, who diagnosed me in about two visits.

For me, it wasn't the diagnosis; it was the lack of diagnosis. I wasn't diagnosed with bipolar disorder yet, either, and the lows... while not as low as when I wasn't on birth control that worked for me (seriously, there needs to be more research into connections between hormonal changes and bipolar episodes, because I'm not the only person who has experienced this... but unfortunately, medical research in specific to women's issues is very uncommon), it was... scary low. Even when trying to use my general coping mechanisms, I came closer than I ever had, and I'm not sure even Morgan (my married partner) knows how close.

I remember getting my usual medications filled, which include sleeping medication, muscle relaxants, and at various points, two forms of painkillers. I remember some months, staring at the bottles, and I know way too much about pharmacology. I leave them untouched, except for normal usage, because the thought in my head is of Morgan finding me dead. I couldn't do that to them. I knew that if I committed suicide, they would likely follow, and if they didn't, they'd be left with grief that I can't put into words.

I'm still here. But I am terrified that some day, I will, like Robin Williams, lose that battle. He fought that battle, and won it, for nearly seventy years, before it took him. I'm lucky that I'm on medication that works for me (well, mostly; I've mentioned wanting to go off Seroquel because of the correlation between that and my creativity drop, but I'm on Lamictal as well, which had been REALLY GOOD for my creativity, so even if I went off Seroquel, it would be fine, as I was once on just Lamictal alone and it kept things under control); for many people with bipolar, it's a struggle to find medications that don't cause creative drought. Many doctors don't care about creative drought, or other side effects like weight gain, or loss of sex drive. And when you're depressed and suicidal, it's hard to argue with your doctor and far easier to just take the pill. I don't know what medications Robin Williams was on or had tried, but I don't think it matters; it's been said that he frequently went off them to tap into the mania for his performances.

And good gods, as a creative person, I can understand that. When I was seventeen, I spent most of a year in a creative-manic state. I wrote nearly 60k words in one week, during this. No, they weren't all good words, but they were words. In a year, I finished three novels, half of another, one short novel, and I can't remember how many short stories. I was manic as fuck, and the feeling was amazing. I remained in a slightly manic state through 05 and 06, but since 07... except for that period when I was on Lamictal alone (which I was taken off of because my doc said my sleep issues were due to it, which my new psych basically said "WTF!?" to)... I've been mostly in a depressive, or baseline leaning towards slightly depressive, state.

Knowing what mania feels like, wanting it... it's hard to describe to people who haven't experienced it. It's excitement and enthusiasm and joy, and it's even more than that. Those words hardly describe it. I'm not sure there are words to describe it properly. It's like bathing in the creative well, being surrounded by it, like all around and in you is your creativity and your joy. Unlike my Seroquel, my Lamictal left me baseline leaning slightly manic, but not to the point of being uncontrollable.

I will also note there is a difference between mania and hypomania. What I have is hypomania, which generally presents in productivity. True mania (usually typical of type 1) can be intensely harmful, with uncontrollable gambling, sex, drug use, alcohol use, and other things.

I'm not entirely sure, still, what I'm trying to say. I suppose this is about me, in a way, because if one thing has come out of this, it is that bipolar is overlooked, and misunderstood. We are dismissed as depressives, when our condition is far more complicated than that. Our condition used to be termed manic depression, because of its presentation. We vacillate between mania and depression, and then there are what is termed mixed states, where we experience both at the same time. I've experienced this. It's about as pleasant as it sounds.

It is something incredibly difficult to live with. I have friends with it who have tried every medication available to them for bipolar, and nothing has worked without extreme side effects. Some learn coping mechanisms and control, but I believe that lasts only so long. It's hard, when you're in the midst of -- I wouldn't even call it depression; I would call it despair. It feels like everyone in the world would be better off without you. It feeds you lies that are gut deep. It leaves you crying, and wanting to stop the pain, anything, anything at all, to make it stop. And it doesn't stop, not until the episode passes. And that time... is very dangerous.

So is the mania, because while the mania is glee and joy, the higher the mania, the lower the drop. I have gone from feeling on top of the world, like I could do anything, proud of my accomplishments, to feeling despair and that nothing I ever did would amount to anything and that my partners would be better off without me there. I have so far been able to hold onto that shred of belief that no, they wouldn't be better off. Morgan in specific has said outright, in discussions about this, that if I committed suicide, they would follow, because they would not want to live without me. Perhaps that is not a fair thing to say, but it is a shred I hold onto; that I am not just taking my own life into my hands, but that of the person I married, someone I love with all my heart. I hold onto that, and I can't do it.

I have my own coping mechanisms. They might not be the most healthy. I listen to depressing music, which isn't hard to find when you're a goth, and I actually have a playlist titled "Depression." I listen to songs that you would think would drive me closer to suicide, but actually help keep me from it, because they sing how I feel. I can't write when I'm in that state, but I read a lot on the internet, and I am very blessed to have a wide support network so if I need to talk -- and I don't always; sometimes there's nothing anyone can say, but sometimes I do need other people -- I can. I'm not alone. I have people who love me who are aware of the severity of my condition. Sometimes I cut, but that's rarer at this point; I don't particularly feel shame at that, though. I would rather cut than do something more harmful. Mostly, I rock in my chair, listen to my music, and cry.

So I leave you with the chorus from one of the songs I listen to, when I'm stuck in that place, when I'm most depressed:

The sun was born, so it shall die, so only shadows comfort me.
I know in darkness, I will find you, giving up inside like me.
Each day shall end as it begins, and though you're far away from me
I know in darkness, I will find you, giving up inside like me

- Further, VNV Nation
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elialshadowpine: (Default)
Nonny Blackthorne

January 2017

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