Bipolar Disorder, in partial remission, Most Recent Episode Mixed

I have the unfortunate privilege of access to my therapy notes, almost immediately.

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

My husband’s company provides free therapy through the Teladoc service. The second therapist I met with was a fantastic fit and I’ve been talking to her for around 9 months now.

I can’t help but read what she’s written about me within an hour or so of every session.

Did she say I was lethargic?

Distracted with pressured speech?

Stable?

Anxious?

I want the details that she may or may not know I read. This means I also get to see my diagnosis spelled out after each visit. Bipolar disorder and chronic PTSD. The bipolar disorder is always followed up with a nice little modifier that states I’m either currently in an episode or recently had one. As well as added details about whether psychosis was/is present.

One line in the objective notes always gets me when I’m not in an episode.

“Client reports passive SI with no plan or intent, client reports this is her typical baseline.”

The thing is, this ISN’T my baseline. It’s just that I can’t remember any other part of my life when I’m in the midst of an episode. And maybe that’s what makes bipolar disorder so disorienting.

When I began seeking treatment in 2021 (after 8 years of running the heck away from my diagnosis), I was in the deepest depths of depression. Not my worst depression, but a contender. And I couldn’t imagine that I’d ever been happy before.

My life was an endless sea of grey. I could see the moments that should bring me joy, but I felt nothing. I wanted to die and I had surely always felt that way. I was an awful person with a beautiful family who didn’t deserve to suffer my existence.

If you know depression, you know what I’m talking about.

And when I’m manic, it all swings in the opposite direction. I am a literal goddess and a gift to my husband. I am an amazing mother. The jewel around which my family orbits. I am talented with boundless energy. Charismatic. Everyone who lays eyes on me wants me. I am joyous and will be this way until the end of time.

I can’t imagine that my feelings might ever change or that my beliefs might be fluid instead of firmly grounded and unchanging.

But, as the title says, I’m in partial remission. I’m not in an episode. My PTSD hasn’t been triggered in awhile. I’m stable. Stable during a time of year when I am historically batshit fucking bananas.

And reflecting on past episodes is surreal.

In an odd way, always existing in one extreme might be easier than these moments of reprieve. Because I can see who I have been. I can see the moments, remember the thoughts, hear my words. And it all feels as if they’re coming from a person who isn’t me.

I do feel joy.

I am a beautiful and worthy person, but most people who see me don’t give a shit, let alone want me.

Perhaps the most surreal feelings is remembering the moments of psychosis. When I look at the clock and see it is 11:11. So I look up the numerology and decide that the universe is telling me my theories about a simulated reality are right. Or when I crawl around the closet looking for mice in the middle of the night. I heard them, I’m sure.

I can’t believe that is in me, but it is.

It’s as if this human form houses many people.

Depressed me.

Manic me.

Stable me.

And, when they’re fighting for control, mixed me.

They all have clothing preferences. Hobby preferences. Energy levels. Beliefs. World views. Self perceptions.

But stable me is the most rational. She’s balanced. She feels beautiful moments and sad ones. She moves through her feelings. She works when she can, and rests when she can’t.

When the episode ends, she deals with the wreckage. She cleans the house that manic me neglected while chasing this passion or that one. She cleans the house that depressed me couldn’t managed. She reconnects with the husband who couldn’t listen to manic me prattle on for one more moment. She stows away the big septum ring, glittery body lotion, red hair dye, and yellow dresses that manic me buys. She stows away the oversized black sweaters that depressed me buys. She scrubs the crud off my teeth and shaves my legs.

In bipolar disorder, we lose ourselves in episodes.

In bipolar disorder, we wake up from those episodes and find ourselves again.

Manic, mixed, and depressed versions of us forget who we really are.

But stable us is rarely able to forget where we’ve been.

And that makes for a very surreal existence.

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