The problem with people, is that we hold on to hope when there is none. Hope is so much a part of our psyche, that to give it up entirely would be to give up on humanity. That is to say, to give up on hope, we need to be dead.
But having hope when there is none sucks balls because it arises in stupid places, at inconvenient times, over ridiculous things. And hope, when the outcome of that hope is categorically never going to happen, means you’re just left a sobbing mess of snot.
And so I found myself earlier this week after a visit to my doctor. The receptionist had called me on Saturday to make an appointment with my GP as he wished to discuss the results of some blood tests. The tests included a full blood count, liver and kidney function, zinc, iron – the whole gamut of things that might tell you if something was wrong. Not because I felt unwell but because he wanted to ensure that some new medication wasn’t having any adverse effects.
What medication is this? Ah yes, I haven’t mentioned it before even though it’s been four months since I started taking it. And maybe it’s because I wasn’t sure what I thought of it, or maybe it’s because I didn’t want the stigma attached to it. But let’s backtrack.
In my final days in Nepal last November, I had what I call a crash. Yep, these are becoming something of a specialty of mine, prone to occur when I am overwhelmed by a situation, when I’m off my meds or when I give in to all my impulses at once and end up blind-drunk, drugged up and usually in a comprising position naked somewhere.
But this one was different. I had just finished hiking to Everest Base Camp. I’d met amazing people, seen incredible sights, had a newfound sense of patience and determination and was generally feeling pretty fucking awesome. Life was good. So why the crash?
I don’t know, and that’s what troubled me. I found myself crying and alone in a hotel room in Kathmandu wanting to disappear, to vanish, to bury myself. It was frightening to be honest. And on the other side of the world, my support network was hours ahead of me which made talking to someone difficult. I managed a few Facebook conversations with D, with whom I felt closer than ever. I had even decided I wanted some type of “normal” relationship with him when I got home, although he didn’t get the memo and that didn’t eventuate.
Are you ok
The other day you were a bit meh re life
Yeah I’m good. How’s you tho
Honestly, I’m struggling a bit.
Well I’m here if you need a download
I’m just struggling to control my demons … dark thoughts
It’s kind of bothering me
Fuck. You’re always welcome to work through anything you need with me.
I know … I just … I should be really happy. And I am. And then out of nowhere it goes dark
It’s tough. But it’s important to see that there’s more than that dark part of you going on.
I know and it’s eating at me that it’s happening despite the amazing things I’m experiencing
Just stay focused on what’s around you and enjoy it.
I know you’re right
And there’s people who give a shit about you back here too
Rational me knows that. Irrational me wants to disappear.
Stay rational. Let’s be irrational in bed when you’re back.
D and I were irrational when I got back but I couldn’t shake that crash. I didn’t like the idea that I found myself feeling that way in a foreign country with no one around to talk to. All my other crashes could be linked to the context I found myself in – diagnosis of infertility; discovering a man you loved wasn’t who he said he was; being raped etc. This crash made no sense to me and in some ways this was worse than knowing exactly why I was dying at the bottom of a bottle.
I saw my GP and psychologist and expressed my concerns and it was at that time that they suggested that I might have bipolar, or some other mood disorder. And I categorically dismissed the idea. Depression ran in my family, it was a tried and true diagnosis, but I agreed to see a psychiatrist and have an evaluation. This was November, but it took another two and a half months to actually get in to see one. Access to mental health care in this country is shameful, although I can’t fault any of the psychologists I’ve seen over the past few years.
So, by now it’s late January, and I have an appointment with a psychiatrist who will charge me a bomb to tell me I have depression, to keep taking my meds, exercise more, eat better, drink less, stop taking drugs and continue seeing my psychologist.
Except they didn’t. I walked out with a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder (I had been unaware there was more than one type) and displaying traits of borderline personality disorder, which I did know a little about because it was scorned by most medical professionals as crap. So, what the fuck did this mean?
Well, it meant that the anti-depressants I had been taking for the past three years were likely not helping me, sending me into hypomanic states as well as keeping me out of depressive ones. Ok, so let’s back up so you don’t need to go Google this. Bipolar II disorder is same same but different to your standard old bipolar. The difference is I experience more depressive episodes that normal bipolar, and don’t quite achieve hypermania, just hypomania.
Commonly, depressive episodes are more frequent and more intense than hypomanic episodes and I have shorter intervals of well-being. Finally, bipolar II is associated with a greater risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours than bipolar I or unipolar depression. Sounds fun huh?
I have my diagnosis, and I finally have meds that I’m told will “balance me out”. So what’s all this got to do with my trip to the doctor and hope.
Well, my blood tests showed I had a severe B12 deficiency. Big whoop, you say, although yeah I mean it takes some fixing. A few injections every week etc. But the reason it was such a fucking traumatic experience for me is because I had somehow convinced myself that the doctor was ringing to tell me something else.
Some part of my stupid, bipolar addled brain had convinced myself that maybe, just maybe, some miracle that could rival a virgin-birth had occurred. I thought he was going to tell me I was pregnant.
Irrational. Illogical. Not to mention I’m pretty certain he didn’t even test for pregnancy. But there you have it. I worked myself into a state where I thought the impossible was possible. The unbelievable, believable. The never have I ever, my drink.
But I wasn’t. Obviously, and so I came crashing down to reality, to that black pit of self-loathing and hate for my flawed eggs. And this time I was on the right medication. I was doing the right things to manage my illness and yet still the crash.
Hope. It’s a dirty, not a mother, fucker.