Yup. That's it. *H. E. L. P. We all know what it means, right? I used to think so too, until I started getting treatment, I mean real life, practical treatment for being bi-polar.
See, before I started medication, group therapy, or even seeing a psychiatrist, I was getting assistance from others in many different ways. I had people supporting my smoking habit by purchasing more cigarettes for me; I would receive food stamps from the county when I was unemployed; my sister was wonderful and gracious enough to put me up in her house when I lost my apartment because I couldn't pay the rent when I was in broadcasting school; my mom would send funds for basic necessities & food.
And yet, I still couldn't seem to hold down a job, much less a career; I couldn't control my impulsive spending; I was digging myself deeper and deeper into a whole, out of which I could not fathom or see.
I wish I had applied my research skills into this subject a long time ago. I may have been able to help in my own recovery sooner, but the folks over at the BipolarCaregivers.org, have got a lock on those of you reading who know someone or are currently caring for someone with bi-polar disorder. After reading just some of this stuff, I was left with the feeling of, "Well, duh! No shit, Sherlock." Honestly, I had to check myself, because dealing with someone with this illness isn't always sunshine & roses, nor is it by any means easy. Hell, I had to stop & take stock of how I thought others perceived me during a manic episode & then how I perceived others when I was in a depressive state. It took some time, but I figured out that when I'm manic, no one really can tell. Not really. I'm bubbly, outgoing, happy, jovial, talking a mile a minute, and I don’t want to sleep because I’ve got so many damned irons in the fire and they all have to be done right now.
Some people say it's all a part of my gregarious personality. To some extent that's true. But I can't help but wonder, which came first, the chicken or the egg? I am a very outgoing person. My older sister learned a long time ago that if you dare me to do something, I'll do it. No questions asked. And no thought for any possible consequences either. Some of that is me, some of that is the bi-polar taking a hold of me & steering me along that path.
About.com has a lovely section for people who've been recently diagnosed AND for those who care for or have a loved one with the affliction. There's a glossary of terms, lists of symptoms, doctors & specialists who can help with getting as much information, and aid out to those desperately need it.
And as we honor those who've fought and died for our country, there may be some who don't know what they're going through. Bi-polar is one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose because by it's very nature, it shifts from one end of the mood spectrum to the other without any warning, reservation or cause.
Bi-polar is generically classified as a "chemical imbalance in the brain." Well, yeah, but......everyone's DNA is different, and therefore, their chemical make-up should follow with that logic. So getting the right information about your affliction proves extremely difficult because it can be "masked" by the symptoms you're suffering from.
It took me a long time to come to grips with the fact that there was actually something wrong with me and to seek professional advice. "You're strong, Ang, stronger than you give yourself credit for." Seriously? Honestly? I'm not. I'm not as strong as people would like to think I am. Sometimes it galls me at how many people who know me personally think that I'm a pretty strong individual. Yes, I'll admit, there is a certain amount of resilience about me......it's been built up over a long period of time where I *had to learn* the fight-or-flight reflex in order to protect myself from others AND from myself. I'm learning now, that some, not all, but some of that strength or even some of those weaknesses are masked symptoms of bi-polar. Feeling like I can do anything (remember that dare, Sissy?), standing up to people in certain situations (more like picking a fight), and even facing the current situation with my now-estranged daughter (despite what I tell people & despite the things I am doing currently to avoid thinking about her, she's still pretty constant in the ole brainmeats....), those are all things that I don't necessarily have control over. Hell, I've even *drastically and dramatically* changed the way I do things if I even want to contemplate going to a casino. Yes, that impulse is still there. And yes, it's something I'm trying to get a handle on, but my friends.....inner strength only plays a miniscule part in the whole scheme of things.
I know, that if it weren't for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, ya'll wouldn't be reading this right now, as I would have expired on April 23rd last year.
So, here I am, it's 2012, and I am finally getting the type of assistance I need. Well, at least medically. Now that I've been given tools on how to get a handle on my mental & emotional feelings & moods, I need to find ways to get myself out of that grave I've dug for myself before I just end up buried in it.
I'm consciously taking responsibility for my past actions, i.e., impulse spending causing me to go into debt; my two failed marriages; healing from the past indiscretions which have affected my relationship with my kid - all of it.
I'm living in a two-bedroom apartment, and as I may have mentioned before, without any furniture. I'm taking a class on the state insurance licensing exam so I can help people who need extra insurance in the event they're injured or worse. And I see it as a two-fold type of giving, for others & myself. It makes me feel good to help others. Hence, the journal.
Next time, I'll talk about the stigma we "beepers" face on a daily basis. That too, isn't as easy as one would think. There are some out there, who practice the military's old "don't ask, don't tell" rule, but what you'll see, is that if you don't tell, especially in certain situations, it will do more harm for you than good.
Night all. Thank you so very much for reading. Please, go forth, spread the word & the love. Again, freaking John, Paul, George & Ringo sang it best: All you need is love.
Oh, and I'd like to make a pretty big shout out to a few people for helping my crazy ass this week. My friend stidmama babble, whom I met six years ago through a game we played together called, Babble; my sisters, Shalee & Jen Jen; and my parents. I started this last week with a bit of stress, which turned into hypo-mania, and they all helped bring me down and relax before I went completely manic. It's true, sometimes, it *is* the little things that make the biggest difference.
Peace, love & light.
*How many different uses of the word "help" can you find in this week's post? Hint: I used Dictionary.com to get the definitions. The answer will be revealed in next week's post.