I am back, yet again, in my psychiatrist’s office. It’s a small room, cluttered with comfy chairs. My psychiatrist sits with his back to the window and I face it. The sun would be saturating the room with light, but for the thin curtains pulled across the window, which instead gives the room a disconcerting red glow.
I’ve been visiting this room, and this psychiatrist, regularly for the past eighteen months, full of depression and melancholy and sadness. But now I am feeling better. Too better. The severe depression I have been enduring has lifted, and my mood is rising. Too high. I am giddy. I am excitable. I am giggly. I see lights. I see bright colours. I am bursting with energy. Energy that bursts from my very soul in beams of green light that radiate the room. I am full of the joys of life. I can’t sit still. I can’t concentrate. I can’t sleep. I am full of ideas and projects. I’ll swim at the Olympics. I’ll write a book. I can’t stop. The thoughts just keep coming. Racing through my mind.
I have just finished relaying all this to my psychiatrist. He looks at me for a long time and finally says, “I think this is bipolar disorder.” I stop in my tracks. Bipolar? That’s a big diagnosis. The enormity of it does not hit me until later. That’s a lifelong illness that I will have to live with. My psychiatrist is still talking, but I am not listening. I can’t concentrate, remember.
But in my mind, something is clicking. This makes sense. I can divide my life up into periods where I have felt so depressed I have been suicidal, and periods where I am full of great plans to change my life, which at one point resulted in me deciding to move to Canada and flying there alone, with no plan as to what I would do once I got there. (I probably don’t have to tell you that it didn’t work out!).
So there we go. I leave the room with a diagnosis. It is not confirmed yet. My psychiatrist is not a specialist in bipolar and he would like me to see someone who is, so I am off to be assessed by another team in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, I am full of questions about bipolar. What does it mean for me? How will I cope? Will I ever be able to live independently? Can I work? Will I always be on medication? How severe will it get? What help will I need? What if I end up in hospital?
I have been under various mental health services for just over two years, and this is the second ‘big’ diagnosis I have had. In fact my psychiatrist said, “You are special,” referring to the unusual combination of illnesses I have. But I have never felt quite so unsure about what the future holds with regards to my mental health. I can do nothing but ride the wave of fantastic feelings at the moment and hope I don’t crash too hard.