Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stress, Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder

I'm tired, so tired, and have been for days.  I haven't been able to just sink into this fatigue, since there are still things to do that are time related. I've been working on deadlines for weeks.  I've been spending money I don't have, trying to get things done that will at least allow me to have an income so I can start paying off the things I couldn't pay for once my bank account was emptied but the work not finished.

I always worked on deadlines (modeling and acting) and I always spent more than I earned (compulsive shopping is a symptom of bipolar disorder).  This creates a lot of stress even without the horrifying thrill of knowing that your house might fall down around your feet. I have termites.  And it's been the rainiest spring I remember.  This is a dry climate, and so termites are not that common.  But this year it might as well be the Pacific Northwest and termites are drawn to wet wood.  So I'm exhausted and worried.  That's not a good combo for anyone with bipolar disorder.

Those of us with bipolar disorder spend most of our lives coping with the stress our disorder creates.  For people with families, bipolar disorder effects everyone.  In my case, it has effected a man or two or three.  I can only imagine how difficult it would be to know that my personal chaos was driving my children crazy.  And then there is the genetic factor.  I didn't reproduce because I'd been raised in an abusive family and wanted to stop the cycle of abuse.  But in the bipolar family, if one person is bipolar, there will be others.  Bipolar disorder is one of the few genetic illnesses that has not just one genetic marker, but two.  This is a double whammy.  There is no escaping the fact that if you have children, you will be passing this illness on to the next generation and the next and on into infinity.

I take my bipolar medications religiously.  Even when I was on bipolar drugs that made me fat and lazy, I took them as if my life depended on it.  And in truth my life does depend on it.  I have had bad psychiatric care and good psychiatric care, but no matter the quality of care, I've taken the drugs they prescribed for me.  Suicide attempts and hospitalizations for psychosis will scare the bejeezus out of almost anyone.  Years of sleeping as if you were under the spell of an evil witch will make you hate your wasted life.  Depression kills.  There is no way around that.  And after awhile, it is only on the way down or on the way up that you know you have a window of opportunity and the energy and the knowledge to plan and carry out another suicide attempt. Suicide is our leading cause of death.  I know this, and so I take my medications.

I carry thirty to forty pounds of drug weight.  But I'd rather be fat than dead.  I'd rather be fat than in a sleep coma.  I rather be fat than bankrupted by a shopping compulsion.  And even with those extra thirty or forty pounds I'm normal weight for my height and age.  It's just that as a former model I was always very slender.  I am genetically predisposed to be thin.  So "fat" to me is not "fat" to most.

Today I'm taking a day off.  I'm going to stay in my little house and putter around.  I'll do a load of laundry and make my place a little cleaner.  I'm going to let the boys do their thing without any help or input from me.  I'm going to ignore the phone.  I'm going to nap when I feel like it.  I'm going to rest my weary body and mind.