Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's All In My Head

I'm Bipolar.  I'm crazy too. And to make matters worse, my pedophile dad was a psychologist.  So, even though it was important to the family that I keep my piehole shut about what my daddy had been doing to me, my daddy was always telling me that my seething fury and the self inflicted wounds of careless "accidents" was all in my head.  And it was, in the sense that I might open my mouth and spill my guts to a sympathetic stranger, and what would come out might just put my whole family in jail and me in the looney bin for life.  My mother would scream, "Snap out of it!"  My father would say, "It's all in your head."  It never helped, and though it was all in my head, I could not snap out of it.

My dad's dad was a famous surgeon here in Salt Lake City.  He was Chief of Staff of a couple of Salt Lake's finest hospitals and a high up muckymuck in the Shriners.  He too was a pedophile.  I found this out when he died and his elderly only daughter (another crazy woman) got all Doc's films and photos.  As she and her children were watching the first of Docs carefully numbered films they were surprised to see two kids, ages ten and seven, having clumsy sex with one another.  The little boy was the seven year old and he grew up to become my daddy.  The little girl was the old woman watching home movies with her children.  It was a little awkward.  The man with the movie camera was Doc and the director was his wife, my Grandmother.  And so begins the problem that would disguise my bipolar disorder with all the symptoms of an adult victim of child sexual abuse.  Turns out that's not uncommon in children with bipolar disorder.  Pedophiles either create their own victims or find them.  But the kids with underlying bipolar disorder are often also the victims of child sexual abuse precisely because they're vulnerable.

It is rare for the bipolar child to be unscathed by other victimization.  We are bullied, we are withdrawn, we are moody and sometimes full of a rage so fierce it can only be safely turned within and we are often the teens who cut ourselves or have frequent "accidents."  It is also rare for the bipolar adult to be without substance abuse.  We are mostly self-medicating, trying desperately to find a place within that feels "normal." If I'm describing your childhood here and you have been diagnosed as "depressed," that may just be your predominant pole in the bipolar swing.  It was mine.  I spent years so depressed I couldn't get out of bed.  And depression almost always begins with symptoms that seem like a serious sickness.  You ache all over; you feel so tired movement seems like walking through molasses; you might have a low grade fever, a headache that won't go away; you lose your apatite; you go to your doctor certain there will be a diagnosis and a pill to fix it.  And eventually, after a series of expensive tests that find nothing, you'll get put on an antidepressant. And there are pills to fix your symptoms.

There are so many drugs to treat depression and the mood swings that go along with it, like the occasional psychosis.  But first everything else has to be ruled out.  My thyroid was almost always suspected since my eyes are prominent, or were before the upper lid began to droop.  But, if after a month or so on a new drug, my symptoms aren't getting less debilitation, I probably need to try another drug.  There is one that will help.  And it needs to be a psychiatrist who works through that process of finding the right drug, so I can live in a place of emotional balance.  It's a process of trial and error.  The errors can feel like a full blown psychosis or a lobotomy.  And most bipolar drugs are not weight neutral as it is so genteelly described in the inserts that come with a new drug.  I gain up to forty pounds on certain antidepressants, and no amount of dieting will get rid of it.  This is one of the reasons so many women won't stay on their antidepressant.  Would you rather sleep for a couple of years or live your life with a bit more weight?

At the depth of a depression is a coma-like sleep that is dreamless and very difficult to come out of to eat, bathe, and then make it back to bed.  Eating, bathing and walking across the room all take enormous energy when in the depths.  Sorrow resides there as well as oblivion.  Regret is sorrows twin.  And it doesn't help to have a family member shout "Snap out of it! I don't believe in depression!"  That's probably just a family member who is in the hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder and hasn't been diagnosed yet.


Jennyablue said...

Wow and whoa. You tell an amazing, heart-wrenching story here. Every story of yours, really, evokes emotions and lessons. I admire you for making your way through such a quagmire. xo

PENolan said...

Girl - what's up? Why is this shit on your mind today more than usual?

Lisa said...

The horrors that humans inflict on others still astounds me. I have to wonder, like PeNolan what's up?

Tessa said...

The horrors you describe are hard to comprehend. But I know for sure that, after reading your post, I will never mistake the occasional "down" day for depression again. I really hope you feel better soon.

Fran said...

I'll join you in saying I hate when people come up with some simplistic & uneducated response such as "snap out of it" or "it's all in your head".
If you could snap out of it, you would have right?

I am currently doing battle with my sister- the nurse no less, who has given the nod for my 85 year old Mother to be on ***5*** mood meds.
One of them is NOT to be given to people w dementia/Alzheimer's. It;s got a big ass black box warning on it- mandated by the FDA after a major class action lawsuit in 2009.
All the sudden, Mom's speech became discombobulated as she struggled to get through a sentence, she stutters, and strains to fins or say a word. This is not normal Alzheimer's behavior, this is overmedicated behavior.
I guess her ego can't handle the fact I took 10 minutes to read up on this med & this is a big red flag- she should not be on Zyprexa.
She simply declared we will not discuss meds, or anything else.
So I went over her head- notified the Care Facility & the prescribing Doctor I want her off this medication. It;s one thing to naturally lose your memory, it is another to be drugged into submission.
Going over her head is something my Mom would have done too.
the Doc said he would wean her off of it-- but he had to have the consent of my wretched sister who has power of attorney.
I hate this medication roulette. She is on like 23 meds total- some for heart, blood pressure, thyroid, calcium, blood thinner, etc...
I don't fuss about those things- they all make sense. But 5 different mood meds.... WTF?
Good thing I have a half sister in Montana I can relate to.... because this sister just burned the bridge.
The only other recourse I would have would be to take her to court. Hard to do cross country, and something my Mom would not want.
But I did not stand down w/o a fight.
That was no relationship anyway.

It's so sad you had to endure sexual abuse by your Physician father. Makes it even all the more sick doesn't it since he was a medical professional there to * help people*... but he could not help himself, and certainly did not help you.

Fran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Utah Savage said...

Katie Schwartz asked me to write a bipolar post for Dear Thyroid. This was the beginning of a long rambling post about bipolar disorder and me. But I'm not so very special or unusual. There are so many women with bipolar disorder who were abused in a million different ways because they were vulnerable children.

This shit is never terrible far from my thoughts. I take a hand full of drugs every morning and every night. I'm always monitoring my mood so as not to go too far off kilter. And grief is often much like depression. But grief is normal. How bad it gets is another thing. It's hell to enter a stage of the illness where a med change is necessary. Ween off ween on and hope it isn't worse than the illness.

Fran, It sounds like your mom has vascular dementia. That could cause the word problems. Tiny strokes can eventually wipe out the speech center. But too many mood meds will make it hard to distinguish between stroke damage and med overdose. It does sound like court would be the only way to wrest power of atty from her. But if you don't live there and aren't able to see your mom on a daily basis, you won't have much of a chance of winning that battle. I'm sorry for this horror. I was the only living relative of my mom when she went down. So all her care and the decisions about her care were mine alone. It was horrible, but at least I wasn't battling a sibling for control.

Lisa, Trish, I've never told the story of my grandfather and his training his to young kids to be sexual with each other. He turned both into monsters who abused their kids. I wonder who turned him into a monster. This is why I have no children. I swore it would stop with me. I'm the last of the line.

PENolan said...

I thought movie night was an untold story. And you not only stopped the cycle, you reached out from your own isolation and given others insight and inspiration.

darkblack said...

How a spirit of beauty could emerge from such mire...