This is the twenty-fourth in a series of episodes, detailing my dawning realization, that I have some mental issues, that I must address, or risk losing those around me, who mean so much to me. I do not know how many installments this will entail, because I do not have an outline, for this particular avenue, that my Life has chosen to pursue. Because I have always found writing to be therapeutic, I am going to share my journey with anyone, who cares to read along. Believe me, I am not having that much fun.
I am going to put away the books, the jargon and the uncertainty for a minute, and discuss the state of the union, as it exists in my mind at this time. Aside from the uncertainty about a world which may include meds, I am wildly optimistic that I am at least familiar with all relevant information, that is necessary to make an informed and accurate decision, about what comes next and how it will all pan out.
I no longer feel that there is any sense of misdiagnosis. The indignation that I felt at first, was tied into the image of mood spectrum disorder, as one of extremes, producing extreme behavior. Now, understanding that this disorder is all about degree of intensity, allows me to comfortably, and systematically, identify and list, the components that apply to me, and the strategies that are most effective for being able to progress forward, living my life as conventionally as possible. I do not feel as though I have to go around proving that I am normal. What's normal?
There is some degree of comfort in knowing that I am not alone, and in recognizing that there are many beneficial elements of the particular class of mood spectrum disorder that I have determined manifests itself in me. I have learned that countless highly successful people have this same disorder, and that, as a result, they have propelled themselves to the top of their respective fields, and enjoy the fruits of that labor.
I have learned that I manifest both the manic and depressive sides of the disorder, and I have studied the components that are involved, so as to be better able to identify the relevant ones and be able to recognize their presence on any given day.
I have read some of the findings of several eminent psychiatrists in the field, and have taken away strategies for dealing with the reality of what confronts me on a daily basis. I have done all that I can do to learn about the medication available, the pros and cons of the meds, and the techniques I can employ to reduce or eliminate the need for meds in the first place.
I am keeping a daily mood chart, to not only record the data that accumulates each day, for immediate use, but to be able to have an ongoing source of information, that allows me to monitor this disorder more efficiently. My goal is to get so efficient at the process, that I can predict with a degree of accuracy, potentially challenging situations, before they become an issue.
I feel that by being able to examine my level of irritability, or lethargy, or any of the components of the mood chart, that I am better equipped to handle the physical tasks that await me, along with the emotional issues. It has been my inability to control my emotions all along, that has made it necessary to seek help in getting my act together.
Having the support system in place that I do, with people who care and who welcome the role of care-giver enthusiastically, makes me optimistic that I will be able to surmount the obstacles I encounter without the use of medication. I have now had four consultations with Dr. Garrett, and have attained the necessary degree of comfort and trust, that I felt was imperative, in order to assure myself the best chance of success.
In dealing with any aftermath, concerning the disorder itself, or any stigma that is attached, I have maintained from the beginning, that I never felt a sense of stigma, because my case is relatively mild, when compared with bipolar one patients. However mild it might be, it still merits 100 percent of my attention and focus, so as not to slip back into a more relaxed mode. I do not want to compound possible issues, which might then elevate the whole process to an episode, if I can avoid it by monitoring all possible factors.
Finally, in responding to the question, of why I feel compelled to write about it all, I have repeatedly said that it helps me come to terms with my issues, if I can sort them out well enough to present them on paper. It is one of the learning techniques that works best for me, because it combines the visual with the kinesthetic, my two most effective learning styles. I do not delude myself that folks are lined up, impatiently awaiting the next pearls of wisdom that appear on my blog, because I think people have better things to do with their time.
However, from the vantage point of becoming more familiar with an often misunderstood disorder, and one which need not have all of the access baggage that bipolar one patients must check in, I feel that I am in the best possible shape to carry on just as I always have, thereby being able to accept this new challenge in my life. Unlike the time I blew out my ACL, I do not need a wheelchair. I said at the time I was hobbling around on crutches, that as long as my mind was not impaired, I could continue to work and be productive.
Now that I am facing a lifetime ahead, where there is the possibility of mental impairment that interferes with the quality of my life, I need to pay attention, and apply what I have learned. This is where I get to prove what a good student I am. I will do my homework and keep track of my assignments, and in the end know that I have gotten an “A” if I keep those around me from jumping overboard, from the vessel that is Mark.
And I don’t even need a wheelchair.