Give it to me straight, Doc

(This post is no longer relevant to my life, at least, for the moment. I started it a few months ago, and though it no longer holds much meaning to me, I chose to finish it in the hopes that it will help someone else.)

Well it seems that’s a more difficult question than first thought.

So, I have always sort of wondered if I were to be bipolar or something, though I’d never been formally diagnosed as such. To my mind and observation, I’ve always had a fairly… unstable emotional balance. High highs (occasionally) and low lows. I finally brought this up actively to my psychiatrist. I’m sick of it, and I want to know what’s wrong with me.

Because of my concerns, he decided to indulge my question, and he broke down for me why he disagrees with my suggestion, helping to educate me a bit in the process. For starters, bipolar disorder consists of highs and lows often far more severe that I’ve experienced myself. His feelings are that I’ve had no symptoms that approach a mania – when I’m feeling good, it’s only so high relatively speaking to my lows, so I have no good floor off of which to judge myself. Another common symptom is extremely rapid changes in mood, and the periods are much shorter than my own usually are.

An alternative he suggested that more closely fits my symptoms, though which he still believes doesn’t fit me is “unipolar depression.” Much like my symptoms, I never really pass the level people might define as “normal.” My happiness is never within the range of mania, nor am I prone to extensive fits of impulsive behavior (despite being something of an impulsive person – though relatively controlled). On the other hand, I still experience severe depression (though again, not as strongly these days comparatively).

One of the keys to his belief that neither of these fit me is that, typically, both of these respond strongly to anti-depressant medications. In my case, while I have stabilized significantly, symptoms are far from gone or managed. Anxiety, depression, and other personality traits are still present (if reduced in severity). Instead, he noted that my symptoms are much more closely tied to my self image.

I’m not a happy person. I don’t like me. Tegan and Sara’s song “You Wouldn’t Like Me” says “I feel like I wouldn’t like me if I met me.” Well, few things ever rang truer to my self-reflection. Even now, feeling like I’ve dealt with and managed some of these things, I know that this issue is far from over for me, sadly. But that said, slowly, I’m learning to like myself.

Recently, I mentioned my extraordinary luck and joy in meeting a woman who I sincerely thought I might marry. We dated for two months, and that’s a big statement, to say the last. Still, I just knew she was the one for me, in a way I’d never felt before, I cite her as being my first “adult” relationship, then approaching 30 years old. I didn’t recognize it then, but the reality was that I had no reason to doubt myself or dislike myself. She saw in me nothing but good, aside from perhaps some nervous energy and a lot of self doubt.

When she told me that she couldn’t see me anymore, that I was too much work, and that she was in the process of preparing for the next big jump in her life, that hurt. She didn’t have the time to manage her own life, and worry about being responsible for my emotions too. Truth was that she was right, though, as hard as it was to hear. In fact, while I did ask her to reconsider – she wouldn’t, she had already agonized about it, despite caring about me a great deal – I knew even then that it was too much to ask.

In time, I figured out some of the things she saw in me, who I was, and why it was that she was able to love me even though I didn’t love myself. She even remained my friend long enough to help me remove some of the mental blinders I had to things that made me hard to be with, as well as those that made me easy to love. I had won – and lost – someone who said from the very start that it would be impossible for us to stay together, because her life was more important than romance, and it wasn’t even a cold statement to my mind, just fact.

I may not know all there is about me to love, to be proud of, to enjoy, but I do know this: Other people do know, and even if they can’t share it all with me, that’s ok, I’m good. I’ll figure things out as I go along, and one day, she’ll come around again, even if she’s not the same person, and by then, I will be able to manage my own emotions.

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