I’m on three medications for bipolar now, let’s call them Huey, Dewey, and Louie. They’ve worked for a few years, but I’ve been going through some rough times, so it’s time to change the cocktail.
Unlike your plain old, garden-variety, soul-crushing depression, in which you usually can take one pill a day, and use that same medication for the rest of your days, with bipolar, it’s a constant updating. Manic depression is much like flying a single engine plane through Hurricane Katrina. Or actually, it’s more like flying a single engine plane through the spewing lava that’s burning down Hawaii. And it’s just as dangerous.
I checked in with a psychiatrist recently, who was a bit of a nutcase herself (more on the…inconsistency, let us say, in the psychiatric profession in later posts), but she did have a good plan: Huey and Louie are specifically for depression. Dewey is an anti-psychotic. They all danced together very well for a few years. But now, the two anti-depressives, in keeping me out of depression, and are throwing me into the manic, chronic camp of anxiety, torrents of shattered-glass thoughts, and basic existential dread.
We’re now lowering Huey and Louie and upping Dewey. Because, as a bipolar, I need anti-psychotics. Which means, by definition, I am psychotic.
Let’s define psychosis: “a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality, often with hallucinations or delusions.” Some choice synonyms for “psychotic” are insane, mad, deranged.
I have delusions. I don’t see people walking around who don’t exist; but reality to me constantly fluctuates. And it is always ready to attack.
Now, let’s define delusion. A delusion is a persistent, false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary.
Here is a snippet of a conversation my wife had, numerous times, in our first years of marriage. I begin it:
“I have rabies.”
“No, you don’t.”
“The dog looked at me. It gave me rabies.”
“No, it didn’t.”
“You hate me. You want me dead.”
Of course, on a blog, you can’t hear the screams.
That was before medications. Now I have Huey Dewey and Louie, who keep the Snap Crackle Pop in my head from getting out of hand. For now.