depression turned bipolar — why it’s okay to be supported

when miss karen of square peg people asked me to participate in her yearly round robin, i was honored. of course i want to be part of a project that aims to offer support and encouragement to anyone in need of it (aren’t we all, really?) — especially with the holly days getting close and cozy with all of us right now.

for some reason, though, this request seemed to trip me up. i thought to myself “what on earth do i have to offer as a means of support? my life is a bit of a mess on it’s own.”

so i’d start and then i’d stop. i’d begin it and then i’d bag it. stop, start. begin, bag. and around i’d go. (and i’m fairly certain this was NOT the ’round she asked me to do).

not sure i was going to be able to pull off this post, i facebooked (is that an official word yet?) karen and told her that despite my efforts, the right words weren’t blazing out of my finger tips while dancing on the keys of my macbook. no, instead they were poised dutifully on the home row waiting for their marching orders.

and they waited, and waited, and waited some more.

the waiting room

yesterday morning, russ (my hunky man) held my hand as we sat in a rather large room filled with southwest flare from head to toe. it belonged to one of several doctors i see on a regular basis.

i make no effort to hide that i’ve been trying to manage my depression for the better part of 2012. but what my doctor told me not only made me want to hide, it blanketed me with an immediate sadness that was then followed by shame ripping that blanket off of me and leaving me exposed.

you see, my doctor isn’t sure that it’s just your ordinary run-of-the-mill depression. no, he’s now leaning toward the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

whoa. what?!

after a 15 minute pow wow, he told me i was creative, intelligent, and loved that i now make fresh juice at home that sounded “just delicious!” he requested i see him again in two more weeks.

with an appointment reminder card in my hand, i walked out to our car and began to sob. hard.

i felt like not only was i starting all over again, but that this time i wasn’t going to be able to lean on anyone anymore. i told myself that this journey was going to have to take a new turn that would require more strength from within — that i couldn’t be a burden to those to love me. i couldn’t possibly ask for more support. hadn’t i already drained everyone enough?

the misguided pep talk

“toughen up, woz!” i said to myself over and over again as we drove to pick up our son at his nana’s house. “just face the fact that you are broken, woz!”

and i did, indeed, feel broken.

then it happened anyway. support began to appear out of thin air.

amidst texts with my ridiculously awesome brother about chili recipes, he reminded me that i’m not broken. that just because society may view me as a freak (my interpretation, not his), i’m better off not associating with that sort of society. (and to be fair, i’ve never really been one who rolled with popular opinion “just because.”)

then another friend of mine sent me a voice message bursting with love and support because she knew i’d had an appointment that morning. she offered to support me through this process — to find alternative ways to patch up the mind i was continuing to insist was broken.

and as i danced around not discussing the topic, my love took my hand once again, looked me in the eyes and said “no matter what woz, i’m here for you. nothing is ever going to change that.”

continued support

feeling loved, i still hadn’t written this post for karen. i wrote and told her that i’d had a craptastic day and shared my blow to the stomach for the day. (trust me, i wanted to lie my pants off instead). part of what she so lovingly (as a person i’ve never actually met in person) wrote back was this:

any of the diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (and, btw, we are ALL in the damn thing somewhere – aLL of us!) are just descriptions of patterns – they are not YOU (or anyone else).

They are not set in concrete – they do not define you. They’re descriptions.

A diagnosis is like the description of the fabric BEFORE we do anything with it. The description makes it helpful in some ways (like if we were working on a sewing project together somehow – across the miles, being able to describe the fabric gives me some idea what you’ve got in your hand…what you’ve got to play with. it does NOT tell me about a finished product, about what we can DO with the fabric)…

a diagnosis describes patterns – and learning about them (IF they fit – and YOU have to feel that they fit, anyone else’s word is b.s. unless it fits for YOU -the one who “wears” it!) can be helpful. But a diagnosis does NOT describe YOU.

There are scadzillion folks with clinical depression – I bet you know plenty of them. Are any two of them identical? no fricking way! Nor any two with bipolar disorder -or kidney stones, for that matter.

There are a scadzillion and six famous (and ohmygod incredible blessing to humanity) folks who’ve dealt, or are dealing, with bpd — and also probably another scadzillion and six who are a-holes, because – well, because it depends on whether people stand in love and light – or stand in the poo. you know?

it’s funny how one of the most inspirational things i read yesterday ended in the idea that some people stand in poo. LOL

the new perspective

what else is funny (in a serious way), is that i tend to decide what other people are going to think. i make up their minds for them before even giving them a chance to decide for themselves — such a tragic mistake.

so today i decide to share that story with you. to remind you that it’s okay to ask for support when you need it because, really, the people who know and love you (and in my case, never even met in person), WANT to support you. they WANT to see you happy. they WANT to help you.

many times you won’t have to ask, but remember there is no shame in asking. in fact, i’m going to walk my walk right now:

as i continue my journey, will you send me a little love now and again? i can guarantee that your love will come to me just when i need it most. it always does.

the universe is cheeky like that. 😉


now it’s YOUR turn. how can you be supported right now?

11 Responses to depression turned bipolar — why it’s okay to be supported

  1. Woz – definitely sending you encouragement. My sister’s bipolar and so was my Grandfather. Sometimes I wonder if I have a mild case of it myself (guess it runs in the family anyway). I definitely am prone to depression and that’s why I seek out so many uplifting classes (like yours) to keep me thinking peppy 😉
    In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am Thankful for YOU, Woz, who gives and shares so much of herself to the world. Your writings help support (and voice) those who might feel alone in their battle as well.
    To answer your question, hoe can “I” be supported… I can be supported simply by visiting your blog and website and community and understand I have a kindred spirit out there with just as many life struggles, yet busting through them in order to use her struggles for GOOD, to inspire others.
    Bless you, Woz!! Sending support and encouragement to you! You’ll be fine!! You are LOVED by many 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness we are so on the same page…. I just had a week of mild to severe hysteria and agoraphobia…. I had a manic tear stained cray for help to my parents which came out more like an attack and I don’t even know where we stand now. But my man was there every step every moment, I’m back on anti depressant/ anxieties Something I have refused to ever use long term and oh how I had hoped I had found my answer in my hormone treatment (boy does it help…but it does not solve) I suppose we must take this life one day at a time, good with bad and those that will be there for me will and if my parents don’t get it….they don’t (oh does that break my heart) …. Woz darling I will be there for ya…in the oh do I get it girl… that overwhelming sense nearly impossible to explain ( the good and the bad) I get…. you go girl get ALL the support you can *big hugs*!!!

    • thank you for being there for me, meg. your love and support mean the world to me. i know you understand…and please know i’m always here for you, too. love!!

  3. Hey woz, THANK YOU FOR THIS! Thank you for your story, your honesty, your perspective, and your (indirect) support. Although I can never really know what another person is going through exactly, I have been in struggle with depression and anxiety most of my life and it’s so amazing and comforting to make connection with other people’s experiences. I’m learning (again and again) that there is no shame in asking for support and that there are so many people out there more than willing to give it, without judgement. The stigma of depression and the societal grand narrative that we have to ‘toughen up and go it alone’ can be damaging when we internalize it, but we are all so much stronger than that <3

    • *happy tears* it makes me SO HAPPY that something “good” so to speak can come out of all of this. you are so NOT alone — ever. feel free to connect with me anytime, hon. i mean that. there’s nothing quite like being able to lean on someone who “gets” it, ya know. and trust me, love, i GET it. xoxo

      • Aw, what a beautiful response! None of us are ever alone, it’s best to keep on reaching out and making those connections (even when it’s easier not to sometimes!) Sending so many good thoughts your way! <3

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