Goodbye Crutches! Hello new stable self!

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Dealing with undiagnosed Bipolar II for several years has left me with a “toolbox” full of things or behaviors that keep me keeping on, but take a toll on my mental health. I have shaped my actions and habits around my jagged-edged life and used many unhealthy things as crutches to hide or “help” myself. The following is a list of my “crutches.” Since I started taking an atypical anti-psychotic last night, these are also things I am giving up long term.

1. Alcohol: I love greyhounds, I love tequila shots, and there is nothing like a Stella in one of those fancy glasses straight from the tap. But to be truthful with myself, I have to admit that I love these things for much more than the taste.

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Drinking has helped me many times to act “normal” when I feel anything but normal. When I was can’t-get-out-of-bed depressed as a freshman in college, my only other activity was partying. It was definitely a contributing factor for my depressed state, but in the moment, it always made me feel like a normal college freshman. It created a sense of solidarity between my dorm-mates and myself when, in reality, I was have an atypical year filled with failure and depression. It also made me happy, or at least numb.

I still use alcohol in this way. Whenever I’m a little too hyped up after work (hypomania) and can’t stop doing things (if I do I’ll be boring or lame), I am in the habit oftrying to calm myself down with a beer or screwdriver. This typically stops me from becoming hyperactive in activity, but just makes me obnoxious, loud, and overly talkative.

Using alcohol during Mania is another thing entirely. But when I get the urge to drink heavily (it’s almost like a need), it is almost always a sign of mania. The other night when I was feeling particularly rebellious and hell-bent of getting fucked up I ended up walking around downtown by myself, dodging my roommates phone calls (we had gone out together and I had flat out disappeared), and went to the sketchiest bar in town by myself. This might not seem too serious of an issue to you, BUT I live in a very bad part of town.

2. Coffee: I F*CKING LOVE SOY AMERICANOS! Giving up this one is going to be tough. But then again….I really have to admit to myself that it’s not just the taste. It’s the “happy” and warmness that comes 4 sips in.

My friend Frank actually made this photo when I was at my worst in caffeine addiction.

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It got to the point in college that I could drink a Venti Starbucks coffee and fall asleep. Oh, and then I moved on to the anhydrous caffeine pills. I am very thankful that I did not have any heart problems during this period.

3. Late-Night Adventures: The Seroquel is definitely going to make this and easy one to follow due to the extreme drowsiness.

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In college my friends and I would frequent the 24 hour doughnut shop and make spur-of-the-moment 3am trips to the beach to bonfire. I would also use staying up late to trigger adrenaline to do last-minute papers and projects. Now that I’m in the “real-world” my sleep schedule is 90% more stable than it was in college. Still, now and again I’ll stay up until 3am reading a novel when I have to go to work the next morning.