Well, I have done the unthinkable yet again. I’ve had to wean myself off all of my bipolar medication. I have lived with this disease for more years than I care to remember; I know full well what the upcoming consequences will be. I will begin rapid cycling once again. To tell you the truth, I’ve missed the manic highs. No one seems to get that. I feel on top of the world. I feel like I can do anything. And sleep? Who needs it? I am always at my creative and productive best while manic. Everything seems so perfect.
Nevertheless, not too far away is the downward spiral that, for me, is catastrophic. We’re not talking about just dipping down to a depressive state. For me, I become totally intractable. I cannot function—the world ceases to exist. I pull so far inward that I see nothing that is going on around me. I completely disconnect from the outside world. While my job performance is at its peak while manic, the destructive forces that drive me when I hit rock bottom can seriously threaten my job.
Do I care? Certainly not when I am in this state. I lose all hope; I withdraw from everything completely. Last night I took the last doses I had left. I knew this was upon the horizon; I did not stop suddenly. I carefully measured out the dosings starting six weeks ago and carefully began weaning myself slowly. It was the best of choices knowing that I only had so much medicine left.
Medical insurance? Sure, I am covered through my employer. Once I meet the deductible, it’s a great policy—it covers 90% of most everything. The prescription part of my plan kicks in and I can obtain my medications at a reasonable rate. The only kicker here is that damned deductible. Mine is $1150. I am a very healthy person. I’ve had no need to see my own medical doctor in almost two years. Since I am so healthy, I will never meet the deductible. The nasty part is that I receive no discounts or caps on my prescriptions until that deductible is met. Just one of the three medications I take costs $800 for a 90-day supply. I simply don’t have that. Sure, one could argue that if I’d just pay the at-cost price of my medications at the beginning of the year, the deductible will be met, but the total for the three meds for a 90-day supply is close to $1800…and get this…it’s not like they charge me full price until I hit that $1150 ceiling and then start capping the remaining scripts left when I first send them in. I have to shell out the full at-cost price. Even if I sent then in separately, no one drug costs the $1150 deductible, so as long as there is any amount remaining towards my unmet deductible, I will be charged the full price. So, yeah, I have medical insurance, but what good does this policy really do me? I just plain don’t have enough money to shell out for the upfront retail price of the meds.
I’ve not even bothered to see my shrink. I already know what he is going to say to me—trust me, been there, done that. Besides, what’s the point? It’s not as if he’ll be able to do anything about it. Sure, he can give me some samples, but certainly not enough to underwrite all that I need.
So, here I sit just waiting for the cycling to begin. I can tell that I’ve actually started as the levels in my system have slowly decreased when I started weaning six weeks ago. I’m getting by with about fours of sleep each night. Soon enough, there will be no sleep and then I’ll kick into high gear.
And the really cruel function of my bipolar is that I can be in a mixed phase. I can be manic and feel suicidal at the same time. That’s not fair. I should be able to enjoy the manic side for its duration, then just hunker down when the spiraling begins. I’ve already begun withdrawing from everything. I’ve cut myself off from everyone. I turned off the voicemail feature of my cell phone and turned off my answering machine at home. CallerID is such a fantastic feature, isn’t it? The sad part is that I really don’t many calls anyway. Since walking away from the Gay community (discussed many times in previous posts), I’ve left behind my entire social structure. And I don’t have a relationship with my family of origin (think about that phrase—family of origin—I think that phrase was coined at the same time as the phrase “dysfunctional family”).
So, I’m left with pretty much nothing.
Oh, I have a good relationship with the people I know at my church. They have stood right beside me when I have gone through the darkest of hours this year when I was facing potential unemployment. And I know that I could reach out to any one of them if I needed to and they would be right there. But, in reality, everyone at my church are all coupled families. With the exception of one recent arrival, I am the only single person in this church family. While they welcome me with open arms, I feel as I am standing on the sidelines watching. I’m really not a part of everything. They all have their own lives they live and I never interact with any of them outside of church. When I was in the midst of the worst crisis I’d experienced, a few reached out occasionally. Nevertheless, when all is said and done, I’m the one who initiates any of the phone calls. I can’t remember when someone called me up just to say hi. I know they care for me, I really do, but I can’t escape this feeling of a separateness there that exists. I have nothing in common with anyone. There are no shared experiences. They all know that I’m a lesbian, even though I’ve walked away from that life, yet I can’t help but wonder if that might have something to do with it. I feel as though they just can’t possibly understand exactly how walking away from that life utterly took away from everything I knew to be true about myself—everything that defined my identity. It’s ironic. I can be at the church on Sunday and go through all of the motions of the usual greetings and pleasantries, but that’s as far as it goes. They don’t really know who I am. Moreover, I don’t think they have a clue as to how being bipolar defines me. The vast majority of the world looks at it as if it was just a bad case of having a bad hair day. They can’t see its crippling effect on my life.
I will admit that I have played a part in this feeling of isolation. They have home groups twice a month as a potluck gathering on Sunday evenings. For the most part, I couldn’t always go because I would end up staying past my bedtime and altering my carefully scheduled medicine dosing. But, truth be told, on the few occasions I did attend, I felt so out of my element. I would stand apart emotionally watching everyone interact and I just felt like I didn’t belong. I had no common thread with anyone. Moreover, I know that they have no clue that I feel this way. I mean, what would I say?
I know this isolation is a function of being bipolar. And I guess this is how I know I am entering into my crisis stage. It’s so easy for me to isolate. I work from home, so when I get off work, I simply walk out of one room and go into another. Aside from going up to the post office and picking up my mail or going grocery shopping, I can go weeks never leaving my house. I have nowhere to go, no one to visit—my castle without a drawbridge. My church is literally right across the street from me. And I am finding that I am coming through the door later and later just to avoid interacting with anyone, and at the end of the service I just pray I can get out the door without anyone stopping me. I am once again perfecting my façade of “Hi, how are ya doing, I’m fine, it’s great to see you, OK, have a great week, see you next Sunday.” Yeah, I’m beginning to cycle. I can see the signs.
How is it going to show its ugly face this time? How long will I be manic? Will it be a continual mixed-phase process, or will there be defining moments of absolute mania followed by abject despair and pain? There is nothing I can do to prepare myself. The last thing I am going to do is tell anyone about it; the deeper I fall, the more the charming façade when I cannot escape being around others. Yet, I’m not going to let this keep me from going to church (at least I am saying that right now). My purpose for being in church is personal, not social. I have the opportunity to praise and worship God where, during that time, it’s just Him, me, and no one else. I also want to hear the pastor preach. I am always fed by hearing God’s word, and I can always see an application to my life by what is being preached. During the week, I have my own personal time with God throughout the day, when I’m praying or reading His word. Most of the time it’s just the two of us having a continuing conversation. Yet, I still have the need to be in that church on Sundays. The praise and worship segment of the service is so very special to me. I wish they would sing more songs. Everything seems so scripted…4 songs, requests for prayers and praise reports, receiving the offering and the sermon. Sometimes I think the pastor is more time conscious than he should be. I don’t care how long the service lasts. I am there to meet with God. I wish there was more freedom during Praise and Worship. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the Holy Spirit just wanted to take a service and spin it on its side…would there be room for that? There have been so many times when I just wanted to keep singing my praises.
My eyes are open and I’m gearing up for the battle I’m beginning to fight. While I have some shred of sanity at the moment, dare I wonder how it will end this time. The last time I went off my meds I ended up in the hospital (certainly not voluntarily. Had I refused, it would have been court ordered. That’s just because the person I was living with at the time came home far earlier than she was supposed to and found me unconscious. And I was so close that time in finally succeeding. Waking up in the ER certainly was not part of the bigger picture then).
My living arrangements are different now and are quite conducive to a successful final solution. I live alone. No one ever stops by my house to visit. No one ever calls me. Because I work from home, seeing my car parked in the same position in front of my house for long periods of time would raise no questions. No one has a key to my home. My neighbor has just move out and I am going to make sure I don’t get to know whoever finally does move in. And I don’t know any of my other neighbors. What a perfect situation. My absence will trigger no alarms with anyone. I like the way that sounds.©2009