It is rather easy to book an appointment with your GP. You just ring them up, and ask the receptionist to book you in between the old lady with her ‘ailment of the day’ and the kid addicted to Calpol. It is rather easy to attend this appointment with the doctor. You simply hail a cab, drive, walk or catch the bus. Entering the consulting room requires little energy and physical complications.
But sitting down and admitting to this relative stranger that you are “feeling a bit sad”. Well, that proves to be a bit difficult.
When I was 18, I was diagnosed with cyclothymia, a form of bipolar disorder. In layman’s terms, it is Diet Manic Depression. A sugar free version of the ups and downs, if you will. But what did this mean? Have I finally been classed as insane? Are they going to give me one of those jackets that make me hug myself?
Naturally, I did my research. This involved watching the delightful Stephen Fry front a documentary called The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive and spending most of my days on some sort of Wikipedia treasure hunt. I found out that I was certainly not alone on my journey.
There were other ‘sufferers’ out there. Although, I hasten to add that I dislike using the term ‘sufferer’. I believe that without cyclothymia, I simply would not be Dan McLaughlin; I would not have my creativity, my passion, and my imagination. To deem this as suffering is inaccurate. Yes, I experience the crippling lows resulting in my human hating moods. During these times, I think I am an utter cunt (I never use that horrible word unless I am having a down day) but I understand that I am intelligent, and without cyclothymia, I would be the shell of Dan.
I could use this blog to chronicle the ups and down and in-betweens of bipolar, but not today. Today, I am coming out as a manic-depressive: I am a certified nutter, and bloody proud of it! Since it is a day to recognise the condition, I ought to tell you how I was diagnosed.
After four years of not quite knowing what was wrong of me, I was pushed by an ex-girlfriend to whom I am eternally indebted for giving me a kick up the arse. She had noticed the extravagant moods where I was at 200mph whilst the world was at 30mph. She cottoned on to the deepest depression, where I would hide away from anyone human. After an episode where I punched my best friend in the face, to which he responded with a hug (seriously, the best antidote to violence), I had to face it: I was not well.
To diagnose the common cold, one looks for the symptoms, which could include a fever and earache. Or for bronchitis, the lack of voice pretty much gives it away. But the bipolar symptoms are pretty crafty buggers. Sitting opposite the doctor, it is somewhat embarrassing to admit you feel a bit sad or you have ups and downs to an extreme.
To tackle bipolar, you have to understand it. It is almost an intellectual battle with your psyche. The first step to this understanding is diagnosis; this raises awareness.
Admittedly, this is not my most sophisticated piece of writing but I hope it is reassuring. To my fellow brave bipolarites, you are not alone. It is bloody difficult, I ain’t gonna lie. But we are clever buggers, and we can persevere and give the Vs to the low moods. If you feel you are in immediate danger or providing danger, get help as soon as possible. There is nothing cowardly admitting to one’s illnesses. Yes, there is a stigma but there always will be. People don’t read enough, and they never will.
Just remember: when it rains, it pours. But the rain will go away. The rain never stays, and you know there is sunshine at the end of this. You can hinder the rain by umbrellas, and it will cease. You just have to wait.
‘Bipolar’ courtesy of Brett Jordan via Flickr.
‘Tragedy and Comedy’ courtesy of Tim Green via Flickr.
‘Photo of man looking sad and happy’ courtesy of Capra Royale via Wikimedia Commons.