Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Adrenaline Junkie?

I haven't posted in a while and this will be brief. When I'm doing fairly well, I feel more inclined to engage in the logistics of life--you know, catch up on bills, make lofty plans to organize my house and paperwork, and so forth--rather than probe the destructive intricacies of my brain or despair at the purposelessness of my life or of the universe.

So how come I am doing ok right now? Urgency. I have a project that  has outside accountability and a time constraint, and requires organizing but little executing, and is finite in nature. Most importantly, it provokes adrenaline. My therapist suggested I function on adrenaline and that I use crises as an excuse not to do ordinary life. I think he's exactly right.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with cancer (it was early stage, the main treatment phase is over, and I'm doing fine). Friends remarked how well I handled it. I explained that it was nothing compared to bipolar depression. In fact, I did not get depressed for the first six months or so after my diagnosis (and usually I cycle every few weeks). I did remarkably well, mentally.

The crisis status of the cancer diagnosis and treatment offered me several--er--benefits. It initiated an adrenaline surge; it gave me focus & purpose; it gave me a valid reason to lie on the couch and not do housework; and it gave me a sense of urgency for a specific task.

I am not an adrenaline junkie in obvious ways like jumping out of planes or driving recklessly or taking on class 6 rapids. In fact, I will not even risk buying a $70 appliance without conducting copious internet research. My cautious nature may be why I am depressed so much of the time--I thrive on crisis, but I do not seek it out boldly.

What my therapist did not tell me was how to move from a place where I seem only to be happy and productive when adrenaline is pumping through me to a place where I feel ok, and not inordinately depressed and lonely, just doing normal everyday things.

1 comment:

  1. So much of my existence is living in bipolar oblivion, denial, affect, anxious anticipation. And that's coupled with chronic, increasing pain from a serious, disabling injury approx. 25 yrs. ago. My doc suggested I be more "here and now" to avoid being caught in the web of the intellectual pursuit to get/stay better. Type-A I've been all my 60+ years of life, I've known that all too well. And hippie that I was, living life in the here and now--very cool (tried as hard as I could!)
    I've been "living the life of bipolar II for almost 2 years: plenty of depression, lots of hypomania. Sadly, I entered the ring with a long, almost fatal bipolar I manifestation/diagnosis 15 years ago. I mean NO disrespect to bipolar II. I thoroughly understand your depressions. Bipolar--forget I or II--is bipolar...and it ain't easy. (In retrospect, I wonder: perhaps the chemical cause/roots of my lifelong A-type intensity was actually bipolar disorder just bubbling below the surface, perhaps foretelling its true manifestation.)
    Now, my greatest concern is my family; my biggest terror is an episode...regardless of which mood...which or both...especially a major episode, diagnostically-speaking or "only" the way it impacts. "I", "II"...little difference here. That episodic pain results, "hypo-" or full blown.
    I'm writing because I need help. (Still in pursuit!) I know my behavior can be hurtful to my family. Feeling guilty (yes, I know it's not "my fault"); trying not to be selfish...trying to stay sane to not further the circle of mood > affecting behavior > sparking pain in my loved ones/"caregivers" (& they heartfully have always put me #1) be humbly and truly sacrificial to reach those ends and NOT being "part of the problem." To END any resentment--real or imagined/feared--anywhere in any of us. Not that my pre-bipolar track record was perfect (hah!), but my motives have always come back to true with the journey of "enlightenment" (i.e. growing up): by endeavoring to do better--on a consistent basis; by way of my committed loved one(s)' sincere help, with honesty & love (our lifetime commitment)...through blessed epiphanies...through challenging self-examination.
    To say nothing the anxiety of actually coming out, being outed and/or realizing that one's behavior can actually be a billboard to those who wonder. (This less-than-private post is a first for me.)
    It's all a convoluted dynamic. I want/hope to be the chicken who can DECIDE about the egg. I don't even know what I am asking for. Advice...a shoulder...insight...suppport. If you're bipolar, I'm sure you understand. You all truly have my heart.