Today I am trying something new.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably know that in addition to bipolar disorder, I have a number of other diagnoses (these are usually referred to as co-morbid diagnoses since they exist in addition to one another). Generalized Anxiety Disorder is one of the flowers in my bouquet of mental illness, I was diagnosed with it a year ago.
Just the fact that even the name has the word generalized in it makes the whole thing seem a little vague (hey, I’m a little ignorant about this world, ok?) but I know for sure that anxiety is something I struggle with on almost (if not on) a daily basis, and it is something that has been a part of my life since childhood.
I’ve been to a sizable smattering of support groups that focus on bipolar disorder, and led some, but as much as I address bipolar disorder, I am not addressing the other components. Anxiety. PTSD. OCD.
It is like being in the ocean in a small boat in the middle of an oil spill.
My boat springs a leak, and I start sinking.
My initial reaction, though, is shit. Oil is getting all over everything!
I’ve been trying to clean up this oil, cleaning and cleaning and making a tiny dent… but underneath that oil is water, and that water may seem less threatening but it is still collecting together and threatening to sink my boat.
The trouble has been that since I do not have a series of medications to help stabilize my bipolar disorder, I spend an exceptional amount of energy and attention wrestling with it myself to keep it from wreaking too much havoc. It is time consuming, it is exhausting, but the tools I’ve compiled are making a difference. I still feel like hell a lot of the time, but I can control myself enough to keep from having a huge meltdown 9 times out of 10.
Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to address anything else even remotely emotional or thought provoking because I am trying to listen to a story or look at a different part of myself while wrestling a bull. The bipolar bull. Sometimes it gives you wings, sometimes it just stomps on you with its sharp, pointy hooves.
I feel pretty confident in saying this is probably why many therapists wont work with a bipolar patient who isn’t medicated. I’ve stumbled upon the explanation by accident. I have to keep 75-85% of my brain subduing a bull, and the remaining 15% can’t absorb the information fast enough to really make a huge difference.
Of course, therapy is entirely helpful for bipolar-related stuff at this moment, and to have someone act as a non-biased level-headed advice person (always good) as described in the last post. But, if I take a minute to let go of the bull to try and focus on something else, there’s a stampede and I wind up getting trampled.
It is quite frustrating.
Anyway, the new thing that I am going to do today is go to an anxiety support group.
I love support groups of all kinds, and even with my 15% attention span I almost always find some portion helpful, and relatable, and thought-provoking.
I do, however, get anxiety (ha!) when going to a group where I know the majority of the people -well, I don’t know that they’re more sane but they generally have a lot fewer issues than I have going on. Does that make sense?
I feel like I have become accustomed to bipolar, and even schizophrenic folks in my support groups. I find solace in the idea that the people there have generally had as many, if not more struggles than I have had… and I can walk away knowing that if others can survive with more difficult problems than I have, I can do what I need to do.
I have been to a group or two in passing where I am clearly the black sheep in the room, and I don’t think it is bad, I just don’t really know how to handle myself in those situations.
My therapist wants me to practice “filtering” myself in different situations so what I say is appropriate, but I have trouble discerning where “filtering” ends sometimes and straight up lying begins… which is why I’ve avoided doing it up to this point, really. I’d rather just say nothing at all than something that isn’t true.
In any case, I think I ought to go into this as optimistically as possible. I am excited, to some degree, though a little nervous, and I’m sure if I take the time to think before I speak it should be fine.
Plus, maybe I can act as that banner for someone else.
Hell, if that odd, bipolar girl can deal with her anxiety, so can I!