At my last appointment with my psychiatrist, she told me I have too much anxiety about having bipolar disorder. No kidding? I mean what’s there to be anxious about? Being stuck in complete darkness with unspeakable pain that only those who have depression can understand? Or, flying so high you think you’re invincible, have no rational thoughts in your head and are dangerously capable of almost anything? Or, being so paranoid you think you’re being watched by aliens or believe that there are bugs living in computers and crawling through the power cords into the walls? No, that’s nothing to be anxious about.
It made me angry when my doctor said these things to me, and I like my doctor, I really do. She’s seen me through a lot over the past couple of years.
My doctor said this to me after I told her that I’m still experiencing some uncomfortable ups and downs in my mood. It’s only been the past three months that I can say I’ve been fairly stable, after dozens of med changes. I finally found something that is working for now.
My moods now are nothing major compared to what I’ve gone through, but still distressing enough that I wanted to mention it. She suggested that if I had more in my life to take my mind off the anxiety my mood swings might level off. She also wants me to just notice my moods and not judge them.
I know everyone has ups and downs whether you have bipolar disorder or not. But it’s frustrating, to say the least, to have mood shifts for no reason at all. Life could be going great and you feel like crap. Or, problems could be surfacing in your life and you’ve never felt better.
I do have a life. I have a husband and two teenagers. I do some part-time writing from home. I have friends I try to get together with on a regular basis. I am obsessed with riding my road bike. And I see a therapist once a week.
I don’t disagree with my doctor that finding more to do would be helpful, but it hasn’t exactly been easy, especially over the past year as I’ve been rapid cycling and not knowing from one week (or day) to the next how I’ll be feeling. Yes, it has caused a fair amount of anxiety in my life.
My last hospitalization (because of above mentioned bugs living in my computer and walls) was in February. And, like I said it’s only been the past three months I’ve been fairly stable. I think I have the right to still feel some anxiety about my mood shifts even if they are subtle.
And then there’s the double standard of comparing mental illness to another illness such as diabetes. If I had diabetes and told a doctor that I was experiencing excessive thirst would he or she tell me that I’m just having too much anxiety about having diabetes?
If you have bipolar disorder, what do you think? Do slight changes in mood cause anxiety for you or do you just roll with it? If the mood shifts make you feel lousy, but you are still functioning in life for the most part is it worth bringing up to your doctor or therapist?
In the meantime, I am taking my doctor’s advice and am working on not judging my moods and trying not to overreact when they change. It’s still a learning process for me.