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The Case They Gave Me

I mentioned in my book that ‘bipolar is the case they gave me’. For those who don’t already know, Snoop Dogg is famous for the rap line, “murder is the case that they gave me”. I look at my diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder in a similar light. It’s just my plight in life; the cards that I was dealt. What does that mean? Well, a whole litany of things, but I think it first starts with the acceptance of the diagnosis in question.

How do you go from being a fully functional completely normal person to being considered crazy and ending up in a psychiatric facility? Looking back at that month to a month and a half where I was first diagnosed, it is one hell of a downward spiral. When you start to explain what happened to you to other people, many listen and begin to empathize with you by stating quite literally that they think they might be a little bit bipolar as well. It’s nice to hear other people commiserate with what you’re going through, but that self-reflective diagnosis is completely false. ‘Cause ain’t no such thing as halfway crooks’. -Mobb Deep. Even though it’s a nice gesture, you don’t want to put the label of bipolar disorder on yourself by any means. Most people who try to make the argument are just aware that people, bipolar or not, have their ups and downs; There are good days and there are bad days. You really want to be bipolar? Try tailspinning on a psychiatric bender that keeps you mostly awake for over a week. During that time you stop eating and you start fixating on just about everything that happens in front of you. Mania is no joke. Luckily I ended up in a mental hospital where I belonged at that time in my life over thirteen years ago.

So you go through the process of rehabilitation in the hospital. Doctors, nurses, and social workers attempt to put all your pieces back together again. And trust me, you are definitely in pieces, at least for that first hospital visit. Things really change drastically. For many years, I lost the ability to count money without breaking down and getting a severe case of what I call the lithium shakes. Little things like that -- things you often take for granted -- suddenly become a challenge and hurdle that you’re now faced with the rest of your life. Don’t get me started on what the lithium shakes have done to my short distant putting game. Hospitals do the best they can with simple group classes in order to try and build your confidence back up. They can never prepare you for what it is really like once you make it out.

The real obvious, and anyone who is bipolar can attest to this, problematic case that we have to deal with is our medication. MEDS SUCK. Ever since being released from my first visit at a psychiatric ward I’ve had, what I consider, the right attitude when it comes to my medication; I figure, if society deems that I am bipolar and that the medication I’m being given is what keeps me a functional part of society, then I have no other choice than to take my meds. For the first five years after being diagnosed, this attitude was exactly what I needed. The reason being is because for those first five years, I highly doubted that there was anything wrong with me. In fact, I felt that the only thing that was really wrong with me to begin with was the medication I was being ‘made’ to take. Meds really take a toll on pretty much every aspect of your life. There’s the very obvious weight gain. On top of that you’re hungry all the time. Sleep becomes sporadic. Sometimes you’re up two or three days straight, and most of the time you need anywhere from 12-15 hours of sleep at night. Essentially, you become dysfunctional on the medication these ‘doctors’ are prescribing you. Is there light at the end of the tunnel -- I sure hope so!

Unlike Snoop Dogg, who got off on his murder charges and can never be tried for the same murder again, bipolar disorder never goes away. The ‘case they gave me’ is a lifelong journey and struggle for sanity, peace, and normalcy. The ups and downs, i.e. the mania and the depression, is very real. ‘Oh, that’s what bipolar is like, I think I might be a little bit bipolar’. Don’t do it. Don’t put that evil on yourself. It’s not worth it and it’s just not true. Mania -- the highest of all highs -- straight up euphoric. Feelings of nirvana (if you don’t know what that word means, look it up). Coming down from a manic episode -- not so pretty. It’s a fall even humpty dumpty wouldn’t dare take. Depression -- the lowest of all lows -- feeling beyond useless. Incapable of moving. Thoughts that your life is over, and even believing that there’s no reason to live any longer. Even the breaths you take are wasted as you don’t feel you deserve to live. For me personally, I have dealt with depression quite well. I am lucky that I have a mind geared toward resilience. The battle continues every day. The mood swings are episodic in nature and can happen even while on the medication. Time doesn’t stop for these episodes of mania and depression. And when there over you're stuck putting the pieces of your life back together, and you are forced to hit the reset button having to almost restart your life time and time again.

The battles come and go, but the war rages on for a lifetime. It takes some getting used to, and I hope it becomes smoother sailing as I gain experience through all my episodic ventures. In the end, it’s really quite simple; it’s just the case I was given. There’s no better way of putting it. After thirteen years of this, I know I can fight on. I know how to stay strong through all the tough times and the ups and downs. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has their struggle. Each man’s (or woman’s) struggle makes up their story and who they are. I’m just happy that I got a pretty cool story.

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