I’ve been out of balance for a couple of months now; hypomania mainly. My doctor gave me an extra 300mg of Lithium and it doesn’t seem to have worked; however, I just had a great weekend. No angry outbursts for one. I didn’t experience the great part about mania which is heightened happiness the better part of Sunday. Nothing too extreme, just a glow of euphoria. I will see the doctor this Thursday.
So, it appears that I am the classic scenario of everything is bad until the week of the visit. This happens with all many of illness with me. I have athlete’s foot at the moment, for example. I’m been struggling with it for 2 years. I’ve seen the doctor twice. As soon as I decided to go a third time, the rash went away, but it’s back. I’ll need to go in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes away again. I don’t consider myself a hypochondriac, but this happens frequently enough that I have to wonder.
Mental illness is described as an illness of the mind, or an emotional problem. I really don’t like this. It is a neurological problem that affects the mind and the emotions. If it were an illness of the mind, then all I would really need is therapy. Of course, we know therapy helps. Enter my AA sponsor. This guy knows nothing about mental illness unless you count alcoholism which, to me, feels like an illness. Perhaps it’s even a disease. He’s been coaching me through this. I have daily contact. I message him or call him when I’ve had an outburst in particular; three last week….four if you count when I stepped in a puddle of urine my dad made.
He said things like:
Fighting over money is the most common disagreement with couples. It is not easy but you do have a choice. Slip into the bathroom. Lock the door. Ask God for the answer. Get quiet for awhile. It works.
Turn it over to God.
Sounds like you have an amends to make.
Can you figure out what seems to set off the anger and fear (same thing of course)?
Explore the tickle point that starts the ego ball rolling. You can’t cure something you haven’t identified.
He was asking me to take responsibility for my behavior and be open to the possibility that if I surrender it to God, that He might help. I’ll be honest. I don’t like to take responsibility for my bipolar behavior. After all, if I got cancer living a perfectly healthy life, am I responsible for putting people out while I’m in treatment? I have always felt at the mercy of my illness. I’ve cheated, abused alcohol, been mean to my family, sexually harassed coworkers, and behaved unprofessionally. And what did I do? I made excuses or else I lied and said I was sorry and remorseful for the sake of restoration.
But I did not want to do those things this time. I took my sponsor’s advice. I walked away for some alone time. I examined my feelings. I turned it over to God. And I had a very good weekend. My behavior was in check the whole time.
Now, I suspect that if it gets bad enough, there is only so much I can do to control it. When the rage happens, it happens so quick that I explode before I can do anything about it. But if I take preemptive steps of staying in touch with my feelings and surrendering the problem to a higher power, it seems to help.
So now I’m left wondering, is this in my head? Can I control my behavior as if it were an illness of the mind? Talking it out, praying, self-examination, journaling. The sad truth is that I find gratification in knowing that I have an illness that I cannot control which gives me a free pass on behavior, perhaps even sympathy. Like missing gym because I broke my leg. Some might describe that as a victim mentality. Is that what I am doing? Playing the victim?
I don’t know exactly what will happen between now and Thursday. More medicine might make life easier, but it might also cause me to miss out on an opportunity to take responsibility for my life and grow.