For years, doctors have not been able to figure out whether or not to diagnose me with bipolar disorder. My former psychiatrist made the diagnosis, then changed it on second thought to some sort of obsessive/compulsive disorder twinned with major depression. Just yesterday I received the diagnosis of bipolar II from a different psychiatrist, an amiable but detached older gentleman charged with treating medication-resistant mental illnesses that have apparently confounded other medical professionals to the point where they don’t return my phone calls. I’ve bewildered them and others in my life with the fierceness with which I feel not just the emotions dictated by the BDD, anxiety and depression–though certainly those emotions do occupy a majority of my days–but also infatuation, obsession, inspiration, exultation, enthusiasm, sexual desire, adoration, a thousand kinds of love. They wonder if this is mania.
It is strangely, uniquely painful to be told that the only beautiful parts of your life are caused by faulty wiring in your brain. Because oh my God, do I love those manic days. I love how everything seems romantic and tragic and literary, the way the details of my day unfold in front of me like sentences in a Woolf novel, the way it feels to press my face to someone’s cheek and feel the scratch of their beard or the soft flicker of their eyelashes. Every sensation is like its own Platonic ideal. (That being said, I have been known to make harmful, selfish, reckless, emotionally dangerous decisions in these states. But oh my God, the act of living feels so bright and sensual, a significant part of me would rather live with the consequences of these days than lose their emotional charge.)
The amiable gentleman has made several firm recommendations regarding my medications, one of which is that I be put on a mood stabilizer. My fear is that, with this alteration, the majority of my days will become all of my days. I already spend 60-75% of my time either in a state of panic or despondency. Why would they want to take away the only part of my life that lets me have faith in anything other than the inevitable victory of the black rot over my little, cowering brain? The particles in the air are beautiful on these days, and often so is my face in the mirror. I don’t want to lose that, and I don’t want to have confirmation that it is, along with most of my moods and emotional states, an artificial sensation. It’s like fervently believing in God, and then being told that this belief has been downloaded into your brain and doesn’t actually belong to you.