I may have mentioned before in this space that I started counseling at a very young age.
I don’t recall how young I was, but I would guess somewhere around 8, when I first starting going to see a psychologist, Dr. Ruth was her name. I remember being very nervous and intimidated by the experience. But ultimately I ended up really enjoying my sessions. I don’t remember much about how long I went or if there was any improvement. I have no idea if the doctor had any inclination that I was mentally ill, that is pretty early. But I was showing some signs, clearly; otherwise I wouldn’t have been there.
I remember in elementary school I would get pulled out of class for counseling as well. I remember specifically that there was like a divorced kids support group with half dozen kids who had divorced parents. I always resented the fact that I was in this group, as all the other students made fun of me for being weird.
And then for some reason I stopped. I don’t remember why but I am sure there was a reason. I must’ve improved enough to no longer warrant the therapy.
It is odd now because every doctor I have seen since I was 18 has had a rather easy time diagnosing me as bipolar, although there has been some conflict between what type of bipolar I am. But the consensus is that I am very much bipolar, in a classic text-book type of way. And my mother was mentally ill as well, diagnosed as bipolar and we all knew that long before I was born. So if it is so easy to see now, when did it become so? My family history would put me on a watch list by itself, and then my behavior from a young age required therapy, so why wasn’t it brought up before my first suicide attempt?
Of course, one possibility is that it was talked about with my parents without my knowledge. I don’t mean to imply that my parents knew and did nothing. What I mean is that it was discussed and my parents kept a closer eye on me then I realized. Another possibility is that back then, diagnosing teenagers as bipolar was not common. It still isn’t common, but it happens. But I’m not even talking about a bipolar diagnosis, couldn’t anyone tell I was depressed? I hated the idea of medication until I was in my late 20’s, so in reality, none of this probably mattered.
But I’ve never really stayed in counseling very long. I mentioned I’m not sure how long this first go around lasted, but I doubt it was more than a couple years. After my first suicide attempt as a teenager I went back to a new counselor and I saw her for a couple years, probably from ages 17 to 19. I currently see that same counselor from my teen years. And I have been seeing her pretty consistently for the last three years. But there was a considerable gap where I never went to her.
I often think about not going. Sometimes they aren’t very fruitful sessions, sometimes she talks more about her own life then my own. And it is expensive and extremely time consuming. There are a lot of reasons not to go.
I also get into spurts where I don’t want to take my medication. I’m in one of those right now. It is very common amongst bipolars, one of the hardest parts of treating the disease they claim. The nature of the disease is such that you are only noticeably afflicted by it for relatively brief periods. I had a period from 16-19 where things were rough for me. Then I felt perfectly normal, with some drinking and some sleepless weeks until about the age of 22, and only kinda weird for about 9 months. Then I was perfectly normal until the age of 28 until now.
Those periods of normalcy that last for years really make you question whether or not you were ever sick to begin with. You wonder if your doctors were quacks and just trying to sell you drugs for kickbacks. You question whether you were being yourself or fictionalizing aspects of your disease for effect. You spend a lot of time fighting your brain about whether or not you are who you thought you were. It is terrible. And I was able to convince myself twice that I wasn’t really sick. And I think that made me sicker in the long run. I will hopefully never make that mistake again.
I am much more aware of my disease and how it is working on my life in a day to day sort of understanding that I never had until a couple of years ago. I am pretty sure that my entire family is aware and on board with this as well. I always got the impression that it was a difficult thing for my parents, I have even heard my father ask if I was doing it for attention (when you read that it sounds like an awful thing to say, but I actually think it is a legitimate question. I take it more like, to what level of severity is this situation, and how much is being added to it because of some human drama. I didn’t appreciate the sentiment when I heard it, but I understand where it is coming from). I don’t think that mindset is around any longer. I think the last suicide attempt, the hospitalization that followed, and ultimately the ECT that I underwent brought everyone on the same page of understanding.
The space that I am in right now has been a dangerous space for me in my past. I feel good, in general. But I do have a few twinges of negative and dangerous thinking rolling around in my head. I feel like I can see my emotions through a glass dome that they are being harbored in. I have been very tempted to drink heavily in an attempt to throw a brick through that glass. Last week I ran out of my prescriptions and I had not called for refills and thought seriously about stopping them. I even talked to my wife about that and she told me I was crazy. I had to cancel appoints with my psychiatrist and my counselor over the last couple of weeks and I have been tempted to just not reschedule (I eventually did with both). I simultaneously feel like I need to be on more medication, or continue with a baseline treatment of ECT monthly, while feeling like I’m good enough to head out on my own for awhile.
I’ve been here before. It has always led to heavy drinking. It has always led to deep depression. It has always led to weakened relationships and poor work habits. It isn’t healthy. I know that. I know that more now than I ever have. So I am trying to stay on course through this blog, and through reading and research. I am trying to stay committee for my wife and my child and my family.
I am trying to achieve something and I do not want to let my disease get in my way.