Be Careful what you wish for…

I remember sitting across from a psychiatrist my mother used to work with in, of all places, a mental health clinic she worked in, and he looked at me and said, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Bipolar disorder (and in junior high, ADHD, but I was never medicated) was one of the first things I spent any time faking. And not very effectively. I had a borderline personality, which comes with severe mood swings, but they come and go in a few days (usually). I guess I thought maybe someone would care about me if I were sick, be it with bipolar or anything else. It was less about getting some kind of attention (because negative attention is better than no attention), and more about simply feeling like someone cared, even if it was someone I did not know.

Five-and a half years ago, I had a traumatic brain injury (a real one) from an electrolyte abnormality that causes brain swelling, so the injury was a global one. After TBI, anything goes, you can see anything from depression and anxiety to mania and psychosis. And I was delirious for two months. After that, I had my first real manic episode. Back home where everyone was already familiar with my BS, the reaction would have been “same old &$@#, different day.” And it would likely have gone untreated.

Fortunately I had just moved (again, but this time to put down roots, which I have done). And I live close to a well-known hospital system and their doctors diagnosed me with bipolar I disorder. And yes, I disclosed the FD to them, but stated I was working a 12 Step program and I wanted all my cards on the table. And that I wanted a clean evaluation. I stayed about a week and they observed the legitimate signs (objectively observed things that others see) of bipolar disorder, and I was then placed on medication, which I have done well on since.

God has an excellent sense of humor.

Last year, my family doctor diagnosed ADD (inattentive), and no, I am not a fad faker as I call it. If I do not take my medication, I will literally stare at the same page for thirty minutes. Makes grad school a challenge.

Be careful what you wish for-you may get it. Bipolar and ADHD are no picnic when you are working a 12-Step program presents the challenge of managing them without the use of addictive substances. It can’t always be avoided but in working with your doctor and being honest about your addiction, you can still manage without it being considered a relapse.

And when you tell a member of the opposite sex whom you are dating (at the appropriate time in the relationship) that you have it (honesty is best), it can be a mood killer-and you may find that they move on after finding out. Mental health has a huge stigma, as you undoubtedly know.

As many are who have had history of a FD, you wind up with legitimate and often serious medical (and in my case, mental) conditions that require treatment. No better way to muck up your legitimate health issues that to feign something else-you can frequently make the legitimate stuff worse.

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