in 2011 I was diagnosed Bipolar Not Otherwise Specified. Bipolar NOS is a way of saying "the way you cycle between extreme moods is reminiscent of bipolar but your symptoms don't quite match any other kind of bipolar as described in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders".
Eventually, my doctor and I decided on Bipolar II.
I was diagnosed with bipolar back around 2001, but I didn't quite trust the psychiatrist -- I was vaguely angry that he'd check his mail during our sessions. Once he told me that I was so insanely jealous because I loved too much. I thought the man was a moron, so I left him.
For 10 years I had a variety of depression diagnoses. Because none of the medication worked, I was absolutely and shamefully certain that all I wanted was attention. It's what my mom used to tell me, and my teachers and the school counselers and my doctors and therapists. It's always the mom's fault though, isn't it?
It was only the school nurse and a doctor at a psych ER that showed any kind of empathy. I avoided the school nurse because I'd sob uncontrollably in her office, while the other me watched myself manipulating her. I went to the ER during the winter break from college after I'd been fantasizing at some detail about hanging myself in my dad's shed. Then I went back to school and never saw that doctor again.
Around 2010 or so, I went completely bananas, which ironically is totally OK in Silicon Valley where superstar programmers are allowed to, even supposed to, be difficult to handle. Not that I was a superstar exactly, but I was definitely difficult. I was hospitalized, divorced, my start-up went under and I got fired from my next job.
The drama, right?
Then I started buying modafinil online. I wouldn't recommend that, of course, but I felt better. My doctor wasn't impressed. I had a bit of an existential crises when she flat out refused to prescribe it for me.
Then I met a new doctor. He wasn't exactly impressed either, but he wrote me prescription for modafinil because I told him I wasn't going to stop taking it even if the pills started smelling spring fresh. When he diagnosed me with something other than depression I was terrified he'd take it away from me. So far, he hasn't. I still feel like I somehow tricked him and that any day now he'll figure it out and toss me some SSRIs and kick me out the door.
I'm better. Sometimes I get worse. Earlier today I sobbed like my mother died because I couldn't find some health insurance papers. Now, I'm not saying those papers aren't important, what I saying is that when I pulled myself together and turned the house upside down I found them. Now I am going to have to fess up that I submitted all my no shows. I'm sure my insurance company will be delighted. I'll certainly be poorer.
Despite that and the mess I made and the cat being sick and being alone on Christmas and some other not great things I have hope.
I never had hope before.
There are no happy endings with bipolar. Nothing lasts, the hypo mania, the depression, the inbetween.
But I have hope.
P.S. If you or someone you care about has bipolar or any other mood disorder I recommend that you read psycheducation.org. I know that the website looks frighteningly amateurish, and you and I know that the Internet is full of shit, but my doctor gave me that URL and I have no doubt that Jim Phelps is who he says he is. Also, there is a reassuring absence of pseudo science.